Whether you’re dealing with the aftermath of a work-related injury or you were the victim of malpractice, you shouldn’t handle the recovery on your own. Hiring a personal injury lawyer allows you to receive the counsel and protection you need. But before you officially hire a personal injury attorney, you’ll first have a free consultation. So what can you expect, and what should you know?
Do some preparation and research
Before the consultation, make sure that you prepare and research the firm and its practice areas. The general rule of thumb is the more serious your injury, the more research you should conduct to ensure the attorney you select is right for your case. A little bit of time spent researching an attorney and law firm you’re considering can pay big dividends, and your odds of having a satisfactory experience will improve greatly
Expect to give a detailed description
The majority of your time at a consultation will consist of you giving your account of what happened during your accident, injury, or illness. During or after you give your description, the attorney will ask you detailed questions to provoke more information and to gain a greater understanding of what happened. It is best for everybody if your attorney has all the facts.
Come with questions
Prepare some questions and discussion points that will help you determine whether the attorney is right for your case. Ask about a timeline, how bills will be paid, and what damages you can claim. Do not be afraid to ask the attorney about his or her record of success. Keep in mind: A lawyer’s past results do not guarantee that the same or a similar result will be reached in your case. Ask your attorney about his or her trial experience, including the most recent trials. This information may help you to feel assured that, if your claim is contested, your case will be in good hands.
Prepare to answer questions, too
The attorney you meet with will also have questions about you and the accident, so be ready to field their inquiries. Lawyers are looking for a variety of information during a free case evaluation. Some things your attorney is likely hoping to learn about your case include where and when the accident happened, who was involved, how the accident occurred, etc. Do not be surprised if the attorney asks a lot of questions, including some questions that may seem personal. These questions are all asked in order to form an accurate picture of your claim.
When you prepare for a consultation, bring with you any evidence you’ve gathered. Your personal injury attorney will want to review your case using as much information as possible. For this reason, it’s important to bring with you any and all documentation that you have regarding the injury and accident. This includes photographs of the accident and injury(s), accident reports, police investigation notes, citations or tickets, witness statements or contact information, doctor’s notes and emergency room notes, and anything else that will benefit your case.
Bringing all this information gives your attorney the biggest, most complete picture of your case possible so that you can receive the most accurate information possible. The more thorough the information the attorney has to assess, the better.
Be prepared to review the laws and viability of your case
Once the attorney has heard your account, they will present to you the laws that cover your situation, what they feel are your best possible options, and the strategy they will employ to get you compensation. Obviously, they will not have a detailed plan of action ready to go in 30 minutes, but they can give you some ideas. This is often an exciting part of the consultation for clients as they feel relief that they’re on the track to healing and compensation.
Discuss legal fees
Toward the end, you’ll discuss legal fees. Most personal injury attorneys take cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning that they will only be paid for their work if they recover compensation for your injuries. This is the best plan for both parties. Talking money with your lawyer is an excellent way to judge how he or she treats clients. No matter which type of fee agreed upon between you and your lawyer, always obtain proof of the agreement in writing.
Sign the documents
If you feel the attorney you’ve consulted with is the right fit, you’ll then sign the documents and contract. At this point you will sign a contract in which you and the attorney agree to the fees discussed and give them limited permission to sign documents on your behalf—this is called the partial power of attorney. This is used for things like medical releases and documents submitted to the court. You will also sign a HIPPA release form so that your attorney can request your medical information and records. This way, they can handle the majority of the work for you, without you having to run around town or spend hours on the phone searching for documents.
At Harrell & Harrell, P.A., we’re proud to be a team of experienced personal injury attorneys who fight to win the compensation our clients deserve. Schedule your free consultation today.