Matthew Minner | January 12, 2021 | Personal Injury
If you have been hurt in an accident, you may want to consider discussing your case with a personal injury attorney. Whether you sustained your injury in a car accident, as a result of nursing home abuse, or from a defective product, seeking legal counsel is a smart choice.
Many injury victims worry about the potential costs of hiring a lawyer. The good news is that most personal injury attorneys will happily provide you with a free initial consultation. During this first meeting, you can get answers to any questions you may have about your case and determine your best legal options.
Nine Relevant Factors for a Free Lawyer Consultation
Most injury victims do not have previous experience with the legal process. Because of this, some feel unprepared when they need to speak with a personal injury attorney. Below, we will discuss nine important factors to consider when arranging your free lawyer consultation.
#1. Statute of Limitations
If you are considering filing a personal injury lawsuit, you should consider whether your case is still eligible for legal action. In most cases, the statute of limitations will not be an issue. Most people seek financial compensation very soon after their injury occurs.
But, in some cases, a victim may attempt to file a suit years after their accident. Each state has different statutes of limitations on personal injury claims. In Kentucky, the deadline to file a lawsuit is typically one year after the accident occurs. If your deadline has passed, an attorney probably won’t be able to help you pursue a claim.
#2. Researching Your Attorney
Before you decide which attorney should represent your case, it is important to conduct some basic online research about the ones you are considering. There are several useful databases for such research, including Avvo.com, superlawyers.com, and the Kentucky Bar Association. Any reviews online can also be helpful for learning about a lawyer’s reputation and expertise.
The purpose of a free consultation is about more than just familiarizing the attorney with your injury case. You should think of the initial meeting as a job interview. Speaking with a lawyer can help you decide if you want this legal professional to represent your interests.
During your consultation, consider the following questions:
- Do they seem trustworthy?
- Does it seem like you would work well together?
- Do they have the necessary expertise in your type of injury?
- Are they confident in their ability to represent you?
- Can they discuss their prior experiences with this type of case?
Deciding to hire an attorney to represent your case is a very personal decision. It is important to gather detailed information about any of the lawyers that you are considering. You need to hire the best choice for your representation.
#3. Bring Relevant Documentation
Plan to discuss the basic facts of your case during your initial meeting. It is important to have any relevant documentation on hand.
Bring the following documents to your legal consultation:
- Photographs of your injury/accident
- Accident reports
- Notes about your case (see #4)
- Tickets or citations
- Medical records, bills, and documents
- Doctor’s notes
- Insurance information
Provide as much information as possible during the initial meeting. This will help your attorney determine the best legal strategy in your case.
#4. Notes About Your Case
As soon as possible following your accident, you should start taking notes to record your experiences. They will function as a clear record to back up your version of events. Detailed notes will also ensure that you are not relying solely on your memory, which can become unreliable as time passes.
Write down and date the following:
- The events leading up to the accident
- Where and when it happened
- Weather conditions
- The type and severity of your injuries (e.g., broken bones, burns, brain injury,)
- Medical treatments you received
- The effects of your injuries on your daily life
Writing as many accurate, and specific, notes as possible will strengthen your personal injury case.
#5. Prepare a Detailed Account
The primary topic of conversation during your consultation will be your explanation of the accident. Be prepared to answer any detailed questions that your lawyer may pose. In addition to gathering the facts of the case, the attorney will also be determining your “believability.”
While this may sound unpleasant, it is an unfortunate truth of the legal system that juries tend to believe some victims and not others. A skilled lawyer will need to know how you respond to questions in order to make your case as strong as possible.
#6. Prepare Questions
You should also write down any questions that you have before your initial consultation. This will ensure that you do not fail to ask an important question because you forget it in the moment. Remember, this consultation is just as much for you to decide whether this lawyer is right for your case, as it is for the lawyer to learn about it.
Clients often wonder about the following topics:
- How will medical treatments be paid for?
- How long will the lawsuit process take?
- Is legal representation necessary for this case?
- What amount is reasonable to expect?
- How does legal fee payment work?
This is only a preliminary list. You should spend some time thinking about any questions that you have regarding your specific case or the legal process in general.
#7. Viability of your Personal Injury Case
Not every personal injury will present a viable legal case. Others may not require a lawsuit at all in order to secure financial compensation.
Once the lawyer understands the factors involved in your case, they will help you to determine your best legal option. In very rare cases, they may refer you to an attorney that they believe is better equipped to represent you.
#8. Discussing Payment and Signing Documents
Near the end of your consultation, if you decide to hire the attorney, you will discuss payment. Personal injury lawyers are typically paid with contingency fees. In short, this means that they are only paid for their work if they secure a financial recovery for you.
After you have talked about the specifics of payment, you will sign a contract that formalizes the attorney-client relationship. This documentation provides your lawyer with limited power of attorney, giving them the ability to sign certain documents as your representative.
#9. The Next Steps
After you have discussed your case thoroughly and signed the appropriate paperwork, your attorney and their legal team will begin working on your case. They will inform the insurance providers of your demands and begin negotiations. If the insurance company operates in bad faith or is uncooperative, your lawyer will see your case through mediation and arbitration. Finally, if necessary, they will file a personal injury lawsuit.