When you suffer a serious injury, you can incur significant losses. Medical bills and income losses can strain your finances, while pain and mental anguish can erode your quality of life. Fortunately, you can seek compensation for these losses when they result from someone else’s negligence.
Most victims of traumatic injuries do not know where to start with an injury claim. To successfully navigate the claim process, you need to know personal injury law, insurance company procedures, and court rules. Finding a lawyer with these skills may determine the outcome of your case.
How Free Legal Consultations Work
After an injury, you will have many questions. Injury lawyers offer free consultations to answer them. Use consultations to educate yourself about your legal rights and options. Gather information so that you can make informed decisions.
Free consultations also give you and the lawyer the chance to learn about each other. The lawyer needs to understand your case to know whether they can help you. You need to interview the lawyer to decide whether they fit your needs.
To request your consultation, you will contact the lawyer’s office by phone or online. The lawyer’s staff will screen your case to make sure it falls within the lawyer’s practice area. A staff member will set an appointment for your consultation.
You have no obligation to hire a lawyer after your free consultation. You should consider meeting several lawyers to compare them and pick the right one.
Prepare Questions to Ask a Lawyer During an Initial Consultation
First, find out how much time you will have. The lawyer might have other appointments, so you should not expect your consultation to run long. You should also be respectful of the lawyer’s time and try to finish as scheduled.
To gather the information you need, arrive prepared with important questions to ask.
1. How Much Do You Charge?
Lawyers typically charge a contingency fee for injury cases. This fee gets quoted as a percentage of the compensation the lawyer recovers for you. Suppose that a lawyer quotes a 35% contingency fee to handle a car accident claim. If you receive $40,000 from the at-fault driver’s insurance company, you will pay a legal fee of $14,000.
Different lawyers charge different percentages for a contingency fee. Variables like their experience and the difficulty of the case will affect the rate you will pay. Talk to the lawyer about the legal fee they will charge for your case. Also, ask about any additional costs, like court filing fees, that you must pay.
2. What Experience Do You Have With Cases Like Mine?
Every lawyer has a unique background. As you interview the lawyer, ask about their experience with cases similar to yours. You should look for something beyond general experience with personal injury cases.Instead, look for experience specific to your type of case.
Relevant experience will help the lawyer anticipate potential legal issues that may arise. The lawyer may also have connections with expert witnesses you need. For example, after a truck accident caused by faulty brakes, you may need an expert in truck maintenance and repair.
3. Can You Take My Case?
Lawyers turn down cases for many reasons. You should make sure the lawyer can take your case before you or the lawyer waste too much time discussing it. Sometimes, the lawyer must turn down your case.
A lawyer may not take cases where a current or former client is on the opposing side. If there is a conflict of interest, an attorney can decline to take your case.
Lawyers also refuse representation if you do not have a case. This can happen for many reasons. Your filing deadline might have already passed under Tennessee’s one-year statute of limitations. If you do not have an excuse to pause the time from running, the lawyer cannot assert your claims.
A lawyer might not have the time or experience to handle your case. The lawyer might refer you to another practitioner who can provide the level of service you need.
4. What Range Of Outcomes Can I Expect?
Lawyers wear two hats. When representing you in court or with insurers, the lawyer is your advocate. But when acting as your legal advisor and counselor, the lawyer must provide blunt, objective assessments.
During your discussion, you should ask about the outcomes you can expect.
To get a more accurate understanding of the value of your case, take documents with you to the meeting, such as:
- Accident reports
- Medical records
- Wage stubs
- Financial statements and receipts
The lawyer can review the information you provide to estimate your economic losses. The lawyer will also ask you how your injuries affected your life to estimate your non-economic losses. Your final recovery will represent the sum of these losses.
5. How Will I Get Case Updates?
Many disputes between lawyers and their clients arise from a lack of communication. Lawyers can get busy, and clients may feel neglected. Some clients have high expectations that the lawyer will immediately return all their calls and reply to their emails.
Rule 1.4 of the Tennessee Rules of Professional Conduct requires lawyers to keep clients reasonably informed of the case status and promptly comply with reasonable requests for information.
Talk to the lawyer about your expectations for communication. Listen to the lawyer’s explanation about who you can contact in the firm for case updates. In many cases, you can get quicker responses from legal secretaries or paralegals. Discussing these issues before hiring a lawyer can reduce the risk of miscommunication.
6. What Can I Do to Help?
You play an important role in your case. The lawyer will depend on you for information and direction, so you should discuss what the lawyer will need and when they will need it. The lawyer will also advise you about what not to do during your case, such as posting about it on social media.
Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
Once you find the right lawyer, you will sign a fee agreement. Before you sign, review the agreement carefully and clarify anything you find confusing.