Airplane crashes are no joke. More than 1,200 plane crashes occurred in the United States in 2021, with 376 casualties. An airplane crash can lead to hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages and medical expenses.
If you want to get your life back on track after an airplane wreck, you must consider talking to an airplane crash lawyer. But picking the wrong lawyer can mean years of delays that culminate in an unsuccessful case.
The best way to find the right aviation lawyer is to ask a series of questions. Here are seven questions you must ask an attorney during an initial consultation.
1. What Is Your Experience in Airplane Accident Law?
The best airplane crash lawyer will have years of experience dealing with airplane accidents. A personal injury attorney who doesn’t specialize in aviation or airplane accident law can be helpful, but they lack the expertise and knowledge of a lawyer with a specialty.
Ask your lawyer how many years they have had in airplane accident cases. Ask them for specific examples of cases they’ve won and lost, ideally similar to yours. If you were in a small plane accident, ask your attorney about small or private plane accident cases.
2. What Trial Associations Do You Belong To?
Trial associations are legal industry-specific groups with high membership requirements. Members must have extensive experience in the law, and they must have impeccable track records. Prominent trail associations include the National Aviation Trial Lawyers Association.
You should also ask your lawyer if they are on any committees within their organizations. Attorneys in leadership roles tend to have the most experience and results. You can ask your attorney if they are a member of civic organizations, including charities.
3. How Will You Handle My Case?
To get a good answer to this question, you should bring documents about your case with you. Bring any medical records describing your injuries and how much money you spent on medical treatments, including psychological ones. Show photographs of your damaged airplane, the accident site, and first responders.
Give over your information to your attorney and ask them for their initial thoughts. It’s okay if they need a little time to read through everything, but they should give you their impression of how strong your case is.
They should also talk about the resources and tools they will use to bolster your case. Many lawyers like to invite expert witnesses who can explain difficult aviation concepts to the judge and jury.
4. What Is Your Legal Strategy?
Once you get a better understanding of your case, you should ask about your lawyer’s overall strategy. You can hire an attorney with any strategy that makes sense to you and helps your case.
The important thing is that you understand what your lawyer is saying and agree with their overall approach. If you think your lawyer is too vague or passive, you should look for someone else.
Keep in mind that only 1% of civil cases filed in federal courts go to trial. The overwhelming majority of cases result in settlements before the plaintiff and defendant step into the courtroom. If your lawyer advocates for a settlement, you should consider it carefully and not think of your attorney as being passive.
5. Will You Be the Lawyer Litigating My Case?
Some law firms say they offer free consultations with lawyers who will then take your case. In reality, the lawyer you are speaking with may be a junior partner or paralegal with nothing to do with your case.
Ask the lawyer you are speaking with if they will handle your case for you. It’s okay if they need assistance, especially if you’re part of a large group suing an airline or airplane manufacturer.
But they should tell you outright if they are not the person who will handle your case. You should then ask to speak to the attorney who will handle your matter.
6. How Long Will This Case Take?
A civil case can take weeks, if not months or years, to play out, even if the case ends in a settlement. Ask your attorney for an estimate of how long the case will take and what you can do to expedite the process. Do not panic if your lawyer tells you it will take a long time for your case to finish.
You should also think about how long hiring a lawyer will take. Though you may want to get your case started immediately, you should spend a few weeks hiring an attorney and comparing your options for aviation lawyers.
7. How Much Will Your Services Cost?
At the end of your consultation, you should ask the attorney how much their services will cost. Some attorneys charge by the hour, while others receive a lump payment. Some lawyers also accept contingency fees, getting paid only if they win their cases.
You can pick an attorney of any payment method as long as you’re comfortable with how they are compensated. Do not hire an attorney just because they are cheaper than their competitors. They may offer fewer services or have less experience than others, which makes it harder for you to win at trial or get a settlement.
What Questions Should You Ask an Airplane Crash Lawyer?
You must meet with an airplane crash lawyer and ask them questions before you hire them. Start with their background, asking them about their qualifications in aviation law.
Then go into your case and their strategy for a settlement or trial. Figure out if they will be handling your case and if they will handle it with others. Then ask about how much time and money your case will require.
Once you’ve done your research, you’ll find that Heard Merman Law Firm has the best team of Bellaire airplane crash lawyers. Contact us for a free consultation today.