Most personal injury lawyers offer free initial consultations to new clients. After you get injured in an accident, these meetings allow you to interview lawyers and ask questions. Used efficiently, consultations can give you enough information to choose the right lawyer for your personal injury case.
How a Free Consultation Works
Free consultations are conducted without the obligation to hire a lawyer. You will explain your situation and ask the lawyer questions. The lawyer will provide as much feedback as possible about your case. But lawyers sometimes cannot answer your questions without gathering all the facts about your case.
You do not need to make a decision at the end of your conversation unless your case has impending deadlines. You should take time to consider all your options based on your discussion. When you decide, you will sign a fee agreement, and the lawyer will start on your case.
9 Things To Know About a Free Consultation
If you are ready to schedule a free consultation with an attorney for your case, keep these nine things in mind to make the most out of your time:
1. Your Time Is Limited
Most free consultations last 30 minutes. But some law firms offer up to an hour, while others offer only 15 or 20 minutes. Make sure you understand how long you have.
Lawyers will often spend as much time as necessary to answer all your questions, even if your consultation ends up running late. But you should still respect the lawyer’s time and try to finish within the scheduled appointment.
Since you have a limited amount of time, you should arrive prepared. Think through your conversation and the questions you want to ask. And think about the facts of your case and how you can explain them efficiently in the time you have.
2. You Should Have an Open and Honest Conversation
California law protects the confidentiality of your conversation. This means the lawyer typically cannot disclose anything you say during your free consultation, even if you do not hire them.
As a result, you should talk about everything involved in your case, including the facts that do not favor you. For example, if you were texting right before someone ran a red light and hit your vehicle, make sure you tell the lawyer that fact. It will allow the lawyer to prepare some defenses for your car accident claim instead of getting blindsided.
3. You Should Discuss Fees
Most injury lawyers charge a contingency fee. During your free consultation, ask how their contingency fees work and how much the lawyer will charge you for your case.
Lawyers receive contingency fees at the end of the case based on the amount of compensation they win in a settlement or trial verdict. If the lawyer loses the case, you pay no fee. But if you win or settle the case, you pay a percentage of the compensation as a fee.
Ask the lawyer about the percentage charged and what is, or is not, covered by the fee.
4. You Need To Ask About Deadlines
Personal injury cases usually have an impending deadline. This deadline, called the statute of limitations, determines how long you have to bring a lawsuit for bodily injuries.
Generally, you have two years from the date of the injury to file a lawsuit. You should discuss your deadline so that you do not miss it.
Also, statutes of limitations have many exceptions that may extend or lessen the time to file a lawsuit. Even if you think your time may have expired, you should talk to a lawyer to find out whether any of the exceptions apply to your situation.
5. You Can Bring Documents With You
Injury cases involve many types of documents, such as:
- Medical records
- Bank statements
- Pay stubs
- Accident reports
- Employment records
If you bring the documents with you to your consultation, the lawyer can give more accurate answers to your questions.
6. You Can Ask About Your Case
Lawyers often avoid predicting the outcome of cases. But if you can show the lawyer documents relating to your case and describe what happened, they might have a good enough understanding of your claim to predict some possible outcomes.
You should also ask the lawyer if your case has any weaknesses. You might have information that helps the lawyer overcome problems with the claim. And a good lawyer will bluntly assess your case, even if it means giving you bad news.
7. Discuss the Mechanics of the Representation
You should get a feel for how the lawyer will handle your case. You want to feel comfortable with the lawyer since you will entrust them with your financial future.
Some issues you might consider discussing include:
- How you will receive case updates
- How long your case will take
- What you can do to help
The answers to these questions might help you choose between two equally qualified lawyers.
8. Talk About the Lawyer’s Experience and Background
Experience matters when you have a personal injury claim. An experienced lawyer knows the legal issues you will face. They will also have connections with expert witnesses that can help you prove your case.
Talk about the lawyer’s experience and how closely it relates to your case. Remember that an excellent car accident lawyer might not necessarily have the knowledge or connections to handle a medical malpractice case, or vice versa.
9. You Can Have More Than One Free Consultation
You can talk to multiple lawyers. By talking to a few different lawyers, you will gain different perspectives on your case. It will also help you find a lawyer who has a personality that matches your needs.
Hiring the Right Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer for You
Your consultations will give you the confidence to hire the right lawyer for your case. By keeping these nine tips in mind, you can use your consultations efficiently and gather as much information as possible to start pursuing compensation with a lawyer you trust.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in Los Angeles, CA
If you were injured in an accident in Los Angeles, CA or you lost a loved one and you need legal assistance, please contact us to schedule a free consultation. One of our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers at M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers will get in touch with you soon.