Initial consultations with lawyers can be intimidating. It’s hard to know what to expect, especially when you’re injured or grieving the loss of a loved one. You may feel overwhelmed, vulnerable, and even angry. Talking about personal injury claims or other factors in such a situation might seem unbearable but is necessary.
This article aims to help you prepare for your first meeting with a personal injury firm by outlining the questions you should ask and the topics covered during the initial consultation. We’ll also provide some tips on how best to prepare for your first meeting to get the most out of it and leave feeling confident about taking the next step toward seeking justice and compensation under applicable law.
Be Prepared to Answer Some Tough Questions
During the initial call, you might be connected with a non-attorney to collect all the fact-based information regarding your case. However, if you desire to directly connect to a personal injury attorney, you can ask for it.
Once you’re connected to a personal injury lawyer, be prepared to answer some common questions for the attorney to get a sense of your situation. After arranging a face-to-face consultation, the attorney would ask some tough questions to get a detailed account of your incident. These exact questions may require you to share some details regarding your personal life and details of the incident that may be painful to recall.
A personal injury attorney’s responsibility is to provide you with a safe environment to talk in so that you feel comfortable discussing details regarding your case. This information will help determine how viable your personal injury claims are and the potential amount of compensation claim you can receive.
Be Prepared With the Correct Set of Documents
The more information you can provide your personal injury attorney, the better. A good lawyer will be able to look at all of the information they have and assess whether or not there is a viable case. You may be asked for some documentation as they are reliable pieces of information that support your claim and make it stronger.
What documentation do you need to pursue a personal injury claim?
Due to the support that documents provide to your case, it is essential to bring as many documents as you have regarding your case. A few critical pieces of documentation include:
- Medical records (if applicable)
- Police reports (if applicable)
- Insurance documents (if relevant)
- Witness statements (if appropriate)
- Receipts for medical bills and lost wages (if applicable)
Aside from those documents, additional documentation may include photographs of the accident scene or other relevant documents such as medical charts or receipts.
Be Prepared With the Information Regarding Financial Costs
It’s crucial to have some information regarding the cost you might need to bear during the legal process of making personal injury claims.
How much will your case cost?
You should know that the cost of your case depends on its complexity. If your case is simple, with no problems with evidence and witnesses, it might not be costly. On the other hand, if your case is very complicated and involves lots of evidence and witnesses, it may be more expensive because of the required time to resolve your case successfully.
The cost also depends on what type of case you have. For example, suppose you were injured in an accident at work. In that case, this will be much more expensive than having been hurt by someone else who has no insurance coverage or by yourself (if you tripped over something).
The price also depends on the lawyer: some lawyers charge more than others because they are better at what they do or because their offices have expensive equipment needed for their work (such as computers). Finally, it all boils down to experience – older lawyers tend to be more experienced, which means less time spent working out a strategy, which means lower costs!
What is the fee structure of your personal injury firm?
Fees are usually a percentage of the compensation received in an injury claim. The personal injury lawyer will charge for his work from the beginning of your case until it is resolved. Still, they may also charge an additional sum known as “post-judgment costs,” which are related to enforcing your judgment. Fees can be paid in installments, so you need not pay all at once. Attorneys may also want their fees paid out of any award or settlement you receive from an insurance company or other party responsible for your injuries.
The fee charged by a personal injury attorney varies depending on how much time is spent working on your case and how complicated it is. In addition to legal fees, some lawyers will require payment for medical records copies and faxes sent out on behalf of clients.
Will there be other out-of-pocket case-related costs you need to pay in advance?
You may not be required to pay any out-of-pocket expenses related to your case. The lawyer will explain the costs involved in pursuing a case and whether or not you will need to pay anything upfront.
Be Prepared With Some Questions of Your Own
While an experienced injury lawyer at a reputable personal injury firm will make the legal process transparent and digestible, it is good to be equipped with some questions of your own. Such questions will clear your doubts and provide a firm ground for basing your decision to move forward with an attorney.
Are you entitled to compensation?
The first question a personal injury lawyer will ask is whether you have suffered an injury. If you have, they will want to know what type of injury it was and how severe it was. They’ll also want to hear about any other injuries you sustained in the same accident.
They’ll ask whether someone else caused your injuries—if so, this person or entity could be held liable for your damages (what you’re entitled to be compensated for). In some cases, such as when a car accident has been caused by another driver’s negligence (i.e., speeding), there will likely be no dispute as to why the accident happened: someone else’s actions led directly to its occurrence.
But if another driver wasn’t at fault for causing your injuries—for example, if he was rear-ended by someone else—then proving liability could be more complicated and require further investigation by your lawyer before awarding damages can begin.
What is a retainer agreement?
Do you have to sign one before an attorney starts representing you?
A retainer agreement is a contract between you and your lawyer. It outlines the terms of the relationship, including how much you will pay your lawyer to handle your claim, whether or not they will be paid any additional fees as work progresses on it, and what happens if they are unable to complete their work for some reason.
You do not have to sign a retainer agreement before your lawyer starts working on your case (though it’s certainly recommended). If your financial constraints don’t allow you to pay the fees upfront, but you’re sure about who you want as your representative, that should be okay with the law firm. Before starting the work on the legal process of filing the case and other procedures according to the law, your lawyer can meet you to discuss your case further and understand it in detail to identify any other possible claims.
However–and this is important–if an attorney does take on cases without first signing an agreement with clients about what kinds of fees will apply during different phases of litigation (like when filing motions), then they risk losing out on potential profits if clients decide later down the line that they don’t want him anymore because there wasn’t enough money coming in through fees collected at various points throughout litigation processes like discovery requests made by opposing counsel.
When can you expect to hear back from your attorney after the initial consultation?
It depends on the complexity of your case. Suppose there is a lot of information to gather and communicate with other parties, such as an insurance company. In that case, it may take time before you hear back. However, it is advised to seek general follow-up but not pressure your attorney. Be assured that your personal injury lawyer is working on your case. Suppose such a trust is missing between you and your attorney in the initial meeting. In that case, you must think it through and talk to other lawyers until satisfied.
If a personal injury firm accepts your case, who will work on it, and how involved will your lawyer be?
Once your case has been accepted, you can expect your lawyer to be the primary contact throughout the process. They are responsible for all aspects of your case. They will handle it from start to finish, including negotiations with the insurance company and medical providers. In addition, if anything else needs to be done related to your case (such as taking photos of injuries), your lawyer will oversee this as well.
It’s important to note that since only one person—your personal injury attorney—will have access to all records about your personal injury claims, no other person in the firm will be able to answer any questions about it or provide updates on how things are going.
If you have questions about what’s happening with something specific or want more information about why something isn’t happening yet (e.g., a doctor is refusing treatment but hasn’t officially denied care), ask for clarification from whoever handles communications at their law firm rather than reaching out directly; otherwise, there may be some confusion among staff members about who said what when.
Can your family or friends accompany you during meetings?
When you meet with your lawyer, it is good to have someone who can help you remember all the vital information. Your lawyer will probably ask you to provide a list of people present at the consultation and may want one or more of them to stay for the entire meeting. Your lawyer may also ask that the family leave the room during some parts of their consultation with you.
Be Prepared for the Next Step
You don’t necessarily need to decide right after the initial consultation. Nonetheless, it is good to be aware of the following steps you’d be required to take if you choose to go forward with an attorney.
How long will the claim process take?
The time frame of your claim will depend on the complexity of the circumstances surrounding your accident. If you have suffered a severe injury or wrongful death, it can take six months to 8 years to settle in court. However, suppose you have experienced less severe injuries and do not require surgical intervention. In that case, you could settle your claim within one year or sooner.
In addition to determining how long it will take for a case to settle, other factors influence this process:
- What type of personal injury lawyer do you choose (in-house or independent).
- Whether or not there are multiple parties involved in the suit (insurance company).
- Whether it’s being litigated in state or federal court.
It’s essential to have a free initial consultation with a personal injury attorney because it allows you to ask questions and better understand the situation. The more information you have, the better your chances of deciding on what course of action to take.
Other than discussing your case with your lawyer, there are some things you can do before your first meeting that will make the process smoother:
- Prepare for what will happen during and after the meeting. Consider how much time is needed for each aspect of this process so that everyone involved knows what’s expected from them. For example, the time required between meetings.
- Bring documentation related to your case, such as medical records or receipts for expenses incurred since the accident occurred. These documents will help track how much money has been spent on medical bills/rehabilitation costs.
An initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer offers an opportunity to get to know each other. This consultation will allow you to make sure that the lawyer’s personality, expectations, and legal strategy align with yours. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions you might have!