Key questions to ask before retaining a PI lawyer
By Kirsten McMahon, Associate Editor
Rastin, managing partner of Rastin & Associates, says that choosing a lawyer is one of the most important decisions a person can make after being injured in a serious accident. If an accident victim makes a hasty decision, their file could be under-settled or mismanaged.
“The stakes are high," he says. "You're dealing with a potential multimillion-dollar issue, yet people spend more time researching their next pair of running shoes than they do the personal injury lawyer they're going to hire."
If you are critically injured in an accident, Rastin suggests looking for a lawyer with a track record.
“If a prospective lawyer has never been inside a courtroom, they may be inclined to quickly settle your case at mediation," he says. “Ask them the last time they were in a courtroom. Ask them the last time they sat first chair in a trial. Ask them if they're a member of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association.”
As a long-time Barrie-area practitioner, Rastin has seen a number of law firm satellite offices open in Simcoe County. He suggests someone looking to hire a lawyer should consider the potential logistical challenges.
“Ask them where they live,” Rastin says. “If you’re a Huntsville resident and it turns out the lawyer you’re meeting lives 300 km away, will they be able to serve you?”
Rastin says an accident victim should ask themselves how they came to know the potential lawyer.
“Did you call them because they have a good reputation, was it through a trusted referral or was it because you saw their advertisement at a football game?”
Rastin recommends accident victims ask their potential legal representative:
- Do you have the time and resources to devote to my case?
- Will you handle my case on a day to day basis, or will it be handled be a junior?
- When is the last time you personally did a trial?
- Will you handle my case locally or will you run it out of Toronto or elsewhere?
- Where do you actually live?
- How and when will we communicate? How will you keep me informed?
- Will you handle my case and only bill me once it’s been won?
- What process will we need to follow?
- How will you help me?
He says a good lawyer will patiently respond to your questions in simple language that is easy to understand.