How to Prepare for Your Free Personal Injury Consultation
When you’re hurt, know your rights. Talk to a personal injury lawyer.
One of the most important things you can do after an accident is to speak with an experienced attorney about your potential legal case. We understand that this can be awkward or even scary, especially if you’ve never hired a lawyer before. We also know money is tight after an accident and the last thing you need is a bill from a law firm.
That’s why we offer free consultations for all prospective clients, and we do our best to make the process as easy as possible. Here’s what you need to know to make the most of a free consultation with a personal injury attorney.
Bring documentation, if you have it
Personal injury claims depend on evidence, so to assess your case, we need to get a sense of how much evidence there is to support your case. Some of the things you should bring to your free consultation include:
- Any evidence you have from the scene of the accident, such as photos. Bring names and contact information for people who witnessed the accident, too.
- Medical records related to the accident, including bills, doctor’s orders, visit summaries, prescriptions, and so on.
- Verification of income, such as pay stubs, W-2s, or 1099s.
- Official accident or incident reports, such as police reports or reports created by the property owner.
- Insurance policy documents, plus any correspondence you have already had with an insurance company.
We may not review all these documents in detail during the free consultation, but we will at least take a look at what you have to get a general sense of the scope and strength of your case.
However, under no circumstances should you delay a free consultation because you don’t have documentation. Some types of evidence take time to become available – the police report may not be available for weeks – and it’s in your interest to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. Bring us whatever you have, and we can investigate to find the rest.
Come prepared to answer some tough questions
Personal injury claims tend to be, well, personal. It’s a legal matter, but it’s all rooted in your injuries and the effects they have had on your life. Be prepared to talk about your pain, your symptoms, and the way those symptoms have affected both your work and your home life. We also have to talk about fault for the accident – it’s not fun, but it’s much better to have that conversation with your lawyer before you deal with an insurance adjuster or insurance defense lawyer.
That said, while the subject matter we discuss isn’t easy, we do our best to make you feel comfortable and at ease during free consultations. We are sensitive to the tough situation you’re in, and our goal is to help you find your path forward with clarity and compassion.
Ask the attorney questions, too
A consultation is intended to be a two-way street. As the lawyer evaluates your potential case, you also have the opportunity to evaluate the lawyer. Asking the right questions will help you find the right personal injury attorney and go into your claim with confidence that you have effective representation.
Some of the questions you should ask in a free consultation include:
- How long have you been handling personal injury cases? What percentage of your practice is dedicated to personal injury?
- Which member(s) of your team will be handling my case? Will I be able to speak with my attorney directly if I have questions or concerns?
- Do you take cases to trial? What is your success rate in court?
- Have you handled cases similar to mine? What was the outcome?
- How long do you think my case will take to resolve?
That last question can’t be definitively answered in the free consultation, since the time it takes to resolve your case depends on how your medical treatment goes and how difficult the insurance company decides to be. However, an experienced personal injury lawyer should be able to give you a reasonable estimate based on their experience and explain why there is uncertainty.
Ask about fees and costs
The standard fee agreement in personal injury law is called a contingency fee. That means you don’t pay your lawyer out of pocket and we don’t bill by the hour. Instead, if we win your case (either through a negotiated settlement or a jury verdict), our fee is a percentage of the money you recover. If we don’t win, there is no fee.
While the vast majority of personal injury lawyers work on contingency, there are important differences in contingency fee agreements between law firms, including the percentage charged and whether the client is responsible for other expenses to move the case forward (such as court costs and filing fees). Be sure to discuss the fee agreement during the free consultation and make sure you know what you’re signing.
Remember, time is of the essence
It’s important to do your due diligence and make sure you hire the right lawyer, but it’s just as important to act quickly. Again, personal injury cases are won and lost based on evidence, and some of that evidence can disappear quickly. Moreover, once you have a lawyer, we can start dealing with the insurance company on your behalf and protect your rights while you focus on healing. The sooner you get an attorney involved, the better.
If you’ve been hurt in the Tampa Bay area, we strongly encourage you to meet with us in a free consultation as soon as possible. There’s no cost, no obligation, and no pressure, just answers about your legal options. Give us a call or contact us online to schedule your consultation today.