Jason Stephens | January 7, 2021 | Personal Injury
If you have been injured through little to no fault of your own, you might be considering hiring a personal injury attorney. Whether your injury is the result of a car accident, slip & fall, or a defective product, having an experienced attorney represent you can be very beneficial.
But many people who are considering hiring an attorney have concerns about the costs. This is understandable. The good news is that most personal injury attorneys offer free initial consultations.
During a free lawyer consultation, you can discuss the circumstances of your case and determine the right legal approach for you. The personal injury attorney will ask you questions about your case to establish if and how they can help you secure financial compensation.
Every personal injury case is unique. Therefore, the length of the initial legal consultation will vary depending on the nature of the claim. However, there are some commonalities and standard factors to consider.
Below, we will examine nine things that you should know about a free lawyer consultation.
#1 – Statutes of Limitations
When you are initially considering hiring a personal injury lawyer, it is important to consider statutes of limitations. A “statute of limitations” refers to the length of time after an accident that someone can legally seek financial compensation.
For most people, this will not be a concern. Most victims seek legal recourse as soon as possible after their accident. In some rare cases, claimants will attempt to file lawsuits years after the event.
The statute of limitations for personal injury suits varies from state to state. In Texas, for example, the statute of limitations on most personal injury claims is two years.
#2 – Research and Getting to Know Your Lawyer
Most claimants will consider several different personal injury lawyers before scheduling a consultation. It’s a good idea to conduct some basic internet research to learn about the attorneys you are considering. There are internet databases available for this type of search, such as SuperLawyers.com and The State Bar of Texas.
In addition to basic research, consultations provide the opportunity to get to know your potential lawyer. An initial consultation is not only about the attorney considering your case. It is also a chance for you to decide whether you believe they can be trusted with your case.
Does the attorney seem comfortable with your type of case? Do they seem confident and trustworthy? A consultation is a great way to find out.
#3 – Things to Bring to the Consultation
Because the attorney will want to review the details of your case, you should bring the following items with you to the initial meeting:
- Photographs of your injuries/the accident
- Any reports of the accident
- Related tickets and citations
- Witness names and contact information
- Medical documentation (doctor’s notes, emergency room reports, etc.)
- Vehicle and health insurance information
This is only a partial list. Be sure to bring anything that documents your accident or injuries. This will help your lawyer determine the best legal approach to your case.
#4 – Your Notes Regarding the Injury and Accident
The two most important questions for building your legal case will be:
- What events led to the accident and caused the claim?
- What kinds of injuries or harm resulted from the accident?
It is important to write some notes recording what you know about the incident. Over time, our memories fade and become less trustworthy. That is why it’s important to take detailed notes immediately after the injury takes place.
Also, take notes about your experiences in the days and months following the accident so that you have a detailed record of how your injuries affect your daily life.
#5 – Provide a Detailed Account of the Accident
An initial legal consultation will mostly involve providing your account of the accident to the attorney. They will ask specific questions so that they fully understand your version of events. Your lawyer can build the strongest case for you if they have all the relevant facts.
#6 – Prepare Questions Beforehand
Before your initial meeting, write down any questions that you have about your case, the lawyer, or the services that they will provide. It’s best to have your questions prepared beforehand so that you don’t forget to ask something important.
Consider asking some of the following questions during your consultation:
- How will my medical treatment be paid for?
- How long is this personal injury case likely to take?
- What other types of evidence would be useful in my case?
- What role do insurance providers play in the process?
- What range of compensation could I expect?
- How are legal costs handled?
Getting answers to questions like these will help you to determine the lawyer’s competency and to decide if they are well-suited to represent you.
#7 – Relevant Laws and the Viability of Your Case
After providing the attorney with the facts, they will be able to determine the viability of your case. Not every personal injury case is appropriate for a lawsuit, and some cases do not result in financial compensation from insurance providers. Unfortunately, this is just a fact.
An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to determine the limits and viability of your claim. Although it is rare, an attorney also may refer you to another legal professional if they do not believe that they are best suited to take your case.
#8 – Determining Fees and Signing Documents
Once you and the lawyer have discussed all of the above factors, you may decide to hire them. If so, you will discuss the payment of your legal fees and sign documents formalizing the attorney-client agreement during the initial meeting.
Typically, you will sign a contract providing them with partial power of attorney and detailing how you will pay. Most personal injury lawyers are paid through contingency fees. That means that you don’t pay anything unless they secure monetary compensation for you.
#9 – Next Steps
At this point, your attorney and their legal team will start to build the strongest case possible for you. They will inform the insurance provider of their financial demands and begin negotiations.
If the insurance provider is uncooperative, they will take further legal action. Your personal injury attorney will lead your case through mediation, arbitration, and, if necessary, a lawsuit.