Most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations to new clients. These consultations give you the opportunity to meet the lawyer and decide whether the lawyer meets your needs. It also allows the lawyer to evaluate your case and decide whether they can do anything to help you get compensation.
Before you meet with a personal injury lawyer, you should know the goal of your initial consultation. This will allow you to consider what you want to discuss so you use your time efficiently.
What Is the Role of a Personal Injury Lawyer?
A lawyer contributes to an personal injury case in many ways, including:
- Advising you about your legal options for compensation
- Gathering evidence about your accident and injuries
- Preparing and filing your insurance claim
- Corresponding with the claims adjuster to try to overcome any claim denials
- Negotiating for a fair settlement of your case
- Drafting and filing a lawsuit against the at-fault party if you cannot settle your case
- Litigating your case through discovery and pre-trial motions
- Presenting your case to a jury
As you meet with lawyers, you should keep the lawyer’s role in mind. You can ask questions and review the lawyer’s skills and experiences based on the tasks you need them to perform.
9 Things to Know About Free Consultations With Personal Injury Attorneys
Before you have your consultation, you should understand the following:
1. Free Consultations Do Not Obligate You to Hire the Lawyer
Lawyers must conduct free consultations without any obligation. You are not required to hire them, and they are not obligated to represent you. Instead, you and the lawyer must reach a mutual agreement to enter into an attorney-client relationship.
You will formalize this agreement by signing a fee agreement with the lawyer. This agreement will usually outline the terms of the engagement and the fee you will pay for legal representation.
2. You Have a Limited Amount of Time With The Personal Injury Lawyer
A free consultation is not an unlimited consultation. You will have a limited amount of time to discuss your case with the lawyer. When you make your appointment, a staff member will tell you how long you have for your consultation.
While a personal injury lawyer may spend additional time with you to make sure all your questions are answered, you should respect the lawyer’s schedule. Write down all your questions so you can ask them in the time allotted.
3. You Should Discuss the Attorney Fees
One of the most common disagreements between lawyers and clients surrounds fees. You should understand the lawyer’s fee from the very start of your relationship. This will reduce the risk of misunderstandings later on.
Most injury lawyers charge a contingency fee. These fees get paid at the end of a case based on the compensation secured by the lawyer. This means you will not need to pay any upfront fees to hire a personal injury attorney. It also means you will only pay a legal fee if your lawyer wins or settles your case.
4. Free Consultations Are Job Interviews
A free consultation is your opportunity to interview a lawyer for the job of representing you in your case. Think about what you want in a lawyer and ask questions that will help you determine whether the lawyer meets your expectations.
For example, consider asking:
- How strong is my case?
- How would you handle my case?
- Do you see any weaknesses in my case?
As you discuss your case with the lawyer, you should listen to the lawyer’s answers. Lawyers are primarily communicators. You want a lawyer who can analyze an issue and explain their analysis clearly.
5. Understand the Personal Injury Lawyer’s Past Experience
Experience can give a lawyer enormous advantages in a case. Experience can tell a lawyer how much your case is worth. It can help them project how long your case will take to resolve. It can even guide the lawyer in developing a strategy based on what worked in past cases.
You should look for a lawyer who has experience relevant to your case. While medical malpractice cases require an enormous amount of skill and knowledge, experience with these cases might not speak to a lawyer’s ability to handle a truck accident case.
6. Talk About Communication
Lawyers must keep clients reasonably informed about their cases. They can also get busy with other cases. Talk to the lawyer about the process for getting case updates. And make sure you know who you can talk to in the lawyer’s firm about the status of your claim.
7. Ask the Attorney About Filing Deadlines
California’s statute of limitations in personal injury cases is two years. However, these deadlines can change from time to time.
For example, Florida recently changed its statute of limitations for negligence cases to two years from four years. Regardless of the reason for the change, the result will be that you need to act fast after you get injured to make sure you preserve your claim.
8. Explain the Lawyer the Entire Story
During the initial consultation, your lawyer will preserve your privacy. This means the lawyer cannot disclose anything you discuss during your consultation except in very limited circumstances. These confidentiality rules were created so you could have open and honest discussions with an attorney.
You should tell your lawyer everything about your accident, including the facts that do not favor you. For example, suppose that you were injured in a car accident. If you were not wearing your seat belt, you need to tell the lawyer so they can deal with that fact.
9. Most Personal Injury Lawyers Will Outline Possible Results
Lawyers are often reluctant to discuss specific outcomes in a case. But many will give you a range of possible results. These ranges will help you mentally prepare for the eventual outcome of the case.
Scheduling Consultations With Multiple Personal Injury Lawyers
The best lawyer for your case will not necessarily be the one with the most billboards or the loudest commercials. You need a lawyer who understands your goals and will fight to achieve them.
Free consultations are the best way to narrow down your options for hiring a lawyer. These consultations allow you to talk to a lawyer before hiring them to get a feel for how you and the lawyer will work together. This will ensure you pick a lawyer who is on the same page as you from the start.
Mark Yonker is the co-founding attorney at Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers, a top-rated Tampa Bay personal injury law firm. He has over 29 years of experience practicing personal injury law and helping accident victims. He has recovered millions of dollars for his clients. Contact Winters & Yonker Personal Injury Lawyers today to schedule a free consultation.