Brian White | November 8, 2020 | Personal Injury
Most lawyers offer a free consultation to potential clients who are in the process of seeking legal representation. These meetings are mutually beneficial. Lawyers have an opportunity to share information about themselves and win a client’s confidence, and clients have an opportunity to “interview” the lawyer, talk about their situation, and get some initial advice.
At the end of the meeting, you are free to decide that you do not want to hire the lawyer, and the lawyer is free to decide that he or she cannot take on your case..
If you’ve been injured in a car accident or as a result of medical negligence, you might be on the hunt for an attorney to help you pursue compensation. Here are nine things you should keep in mind as you prepare for a free legal consultation.
Ask to Meet in Person
Meeting in person, especially at their office, can be really helpful. Why? It can give you a sense for their office environment, how established their practice is, how seriously they take their practice, and how professional they are in their interactions with you.
What You Discuss is Confidential
What you discuss with a lawyer during a free consultation is protected by attorney-client privilege. You should feel free to share what you think is necessary for the lawyer to effectively review your case. Even if you choose not to hire that particular lawyer, what you discussed during that meeting is confidential and protected.
Prepare Questions You Want to Ask
Come to the meeting with questions you would like to have answered. This is the time for you to request all the information you need in order to determine if the lawyer is a good fit for your needs. Good lawyers will always welcome your questions and will do our best to provide you with a thorough response.
Examples of pertinent questions you may want to consider include:
- How long have you been practicing law?
- Do you have experience in these types of cases?
- What is a typical range for damages in a case like mine?
- How do you structure your fees?
- What are possible outcomes of my case?
- Can you share your record on cases similar to mine?
- Do you settle most of your cases or do you go to trial?
Writing these questions down will help you remember to ask them and do so with confidence.
Be Prepared to Answer Questions About Your Injury
The consultation is a chance for the lawyer to ask questions to learn about your case. You should be ready to answer detailed questions about the circumstances surrounding your injury, including whether you may have contributed to the negligence that resulted in the accident that caused your injury.
You should be forthcoming and honest so the attorney can offer some initial thoughts on whether you have a case. Texas is a comparative negligence state, which means if you are more than 50% responsible for the accident, you cannot recover compensation.
Bring All Relevant Documents
Make the most of your free legal consultation by bringing in documents and other material related to your case.
This can include:
- Photo or video evidence
- Insurance Information
- Medical records
- Witness reports
- Accident reports
Bringing all these important documents to your initial consultation will provide the lawyer with the details necessary to determine if representing you is a good fit. It will also give them the information they need to provide you with likely outcomes in your case.
Gauge Your Comfort Level
A key reason for meeting with the lawyer in person is to gauge your comfort level during the initial meeting. You need a lawyer with whom you feel comfortable and with whom you can communicate with easily and honestly.
Personal injuries can be sensitive to discuss, and if you do not feel like you can share potentially embarrassing or delicate details about your body and injury, then you will not get the level of legal representation you deserve. A strong lawyer-client relationship is a vital element in the success of your case.
Listen and Take Notes
Even if you do not hire the attorney you are interviewing, there is still much to learn from each interaction. Take detailed notes during the meeting regarding what you like or dislike about the attorney, any perspectives he or she offers on your case, any issues you want to follow up on with them.
You want to be sure you have what you need in order to make a confident decision on whether or not to hire that lawyer.
How Will You Be Charged?
Costs are an important factor to be discussed during your consultation. Be sure to ask about the fee structure as well as court costs. Most personal injury attorneys operate on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay nothing unless they win for you.
Can the Lawyer Take Your Case Right Away?
During your meeting, make sure to ask if the lawyer will be able to immediately begin working on your case. This is important because the sooner they can begin working on your case, the more time they will have to build a strong case with a greater chance of a successful outcome.