A free consultation with an injury lawyer can be an important step in choosing the right lawyer for your case. Lawyers have different personalities and levels of experience. Some lawyers may be better suited for your case than others.
To find out what a specific lawyer can bring to your case, you need to understand your goals for your case.
Here are six questions to ask a personal injury lawyer during a free consultation to help you choose the right lawyer for your needs:
1. What Kind of Experience Do You Have in Cases Like Mine?
You should approach a free consultation in the same way that you would approach a job interview. Have a give-and-take conversation with the lawyer to understand what that specific lawyer can bring to your case.
Ask about any relevant experience that the lawyer has. This will tell you whether the lawyer has prior knowledge about the legal issues that will apply to your case. It will also help you to gauge the likelihood of success in a case like yours.
For example, if you suffered from a brain injury in a car accident, ask whether the lawyer has previously handled brain injury cases. If the lawyer has not, you should consider talking to another lawyer.
The answer may also suggest what you can expect from your case. Although every case has different obstacles to overcome, the answer might suggest a range of outcomes that you can use to set your expectations.
2. How Much Do You Charge?
One of the most common disputes between lawyers and their clients centers around fees. Most injury lawyers charge a contingent fee. But the rate and calculation method for that fee may vary from lawyer to lawyer.
Discuss whether you will need to reimburse the lawyer for litigation costs. These costs include filing fees, deposition expenses, and expert witness fees. Some lawyers will reimburse themselves for these costs from your settlement or damage award, while others add them to the contingency fee.
You need to understand who will pay for litigation costs before you decide to hire a lawyer.
3. How Can I Reach You to Talk About My Case?
Lack of communication forms the basis for many disputes between lawyers and their clients.
- Promptly inform the client of any decision or change in circumstances surrounding a case
- Reasonably inform the client about the status of the case
- Promptly reply to reasonable requests for updates
If you don’t receive a reply after sending emails, calling, or leaving voice messages, you may feel ignored. To avoid this problem, discuss the ways that you can reach the lawyer to talk about the case. You can also ask them to identify others in the firm who can provide status updates and information about your case.
4. What Outcomes Can I Expect from My Case?
Your case will involve two parts: liability and damages. To prove liability, you and your lawyer will probably need evidence of the at-fault party’s negligence. To prove damages, you will need evidence of your economic losses and the diminishment in your quality of life.
Some of the documents that could help a lawyer to explain potential outcomes for your case include:
- Medical records
- Medical bills
- Wage records
- Accident reports
- A witness list
A lawyer might hesitate to discuss outcomes without any records to review. But with these records, you and the lawyer can discuss specific scenarios for your case.
5. Does My Case Have Any Deadlines?
Statutes of limitations provide certainty. They allow businesses and individuals to know when liability for past actions no longer poses a risk to them.
But for accident victims, statutes of limitations create deadlines. For most injury cases, Florida provides a four-year statute of limitations. This means that you will have four years after an accident occurs to file an injury claim.
Four years seems like a long time, but for severe injuries, like a spinal cord injury or a brain injury, your focus on your recovery and rehabilitation could distract you from pursuing an injury claim.
Discussing any impending deadlines at your free consultation will ensure you do not accidentally miss a filing date in your case.
6. What Legal Strategy Will You Use for My Case?
Every lawyer draws unique experience and knowledge from their legal career. As a result, each lawyer has a few obstacles that they’ve overcome that they can reference when they’re handling a case.
When you discuss your case during your free consultation, ask the lawyer about their legal strategies.
This will give you insight into the lawyer’s handling of cases, including their:
- Level of aggressiveness
- Negotiating strategy
- Ability to litigate the case if you do not reach a settlement
There is no “right” answer that the lawyer should give for these issues. But the lawyer’s answers should match your expectations for your case. For example, if you expect to negotiate a quick settlement, choosing an aggressive litigator might not suit your needs.
Choosing a Lawyer After Your Free Consultation
You typically do not need to decide whether to hire a lawyer at the free consultation. You can think about your choice and about consulting with a few different lawyers.
When you choose a lawyer, you will sign a fee agreement. A contingent fee arrangement will not require you to provide any upfront fees. The lawyer will begin work on your case immediately by collecting evidence and filing claims with insurers for fair compensation for your injuries.
To schedule a free consultation with an experienced injury lawyer, contact Catania & Catania, P.A. We’ve helped countless clients to obtain justice and compensation for their injuries. Reach out to our office today to learn more or to set up your no-obligation consultation.