Most lawyers that represent injury victims only charge a fee if they collect money for you. They all offer a free initial consultation, but until there is a settlement or judgment, ALL discussions with your lawyer are free.
Think of free consultations as an opportunity to research the lawyer, his or her knowledge and whether hiring the lawyer would be a good fit. Free consultations are designed to discuss the client’s case while getting to know the lawyer and get the lawyer’s experienced opinion, without the stress of paying for the information. It is important to understand what a free consultation entails and what you should bring.
Statute of Limitations
Is the client’s case within the statute of limitations; the legal time frame to act? Some people will pursue their legal actions right after an accident has occurred. However, others may be reluctant to take legal action until they are overwhelmed by mounting medical expenses or only finally realize the extent of their injuries. The most important thing you can do is contact a lawyer as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the harder it will be for your lawyer to gather evidence and protect your rights.
Getting to Know Your Lawyer
Online reviews and testimonials will paint a picture of what to expect from a law firm, but don’t always give you a clear idea of the service you will get. Occasionally, a firm will boast about their size or have great reviews but can’t provide the one-on-one attention that your case will need. Use the meeting as an opportunity to meet the firm that will be representing you and taking your case. A good way to get an idea of a lawyer’s qualifications is to ask:
- Is injury law the main focus of your practice?
- How long have you been practicing?
- Do you have a lot of experience with insurance companies and facing their lawyers?
- How many cases have you won?’
- Will you be handling my case personally?
Take the time to make your own assessments about the attorney. Are they genuine? Are they confident? Will they give your case the attention it deserves? A lawsuit can take years to complete- the most important area for you to decide is do I trust this law firm, and will I be comfortable with them for the long haul? Selecting the right law firm involves more than just looking at numbers, and is the most critical factor in a successful end to your case!
The more information you can provide, the better the attorney can evaluate your case. Some of the items you can bring with you include:
- Photos of the accident scene and cars or dangerous condition and/or injuries
- Accident reports
- Witness statements and/or contact information
- Police notes
- Doctor’s notes
- X-ray and/or MRI results
- The other involved party’s information
- Notes about the incident
The goal is to be as detailed as possible with your attorney so they can accurately understand the case. Because it is important to talk to an attorney as soon after an injury as possible, you may not have some or even most of these items. That is okay! A good lawyer can figure out how to proceed by hearing your story about what happened.
When making notes about your incident, there are two key pieces of information to include. What happened during the accident? And what kind of injury was sustained? Other important facts:
- Time and place
- Weather conditions
- What was said and by whom
- What happened before, during, and after you got hurt
Again, be as detailed as possible, so the attorney can add it to a claim and make sure you are compensated properly.
Just as you have to assess the lawyer, the lawyer has to assess you and your case. They have to make sure that you are consistent and truthful in what you’re claiming. They may ask you more detailed questions to get as much information as possible, and to help prepare for future situations.
Have Questions Prepared
Have questions involving your case prepared for your attorney, since this is one of the primary reasons for the consultation. Ask about anything that is on your mind! While some questions may not be important to the case, the law firm’s answer and how they respond to you gives you some insight into how the representation will go.
Fees and Documents
How you will be charged is important. Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. This means that they will only be paid if they recover compensation for your injuries. There are two reasons this is beneficial. It allows injured victims, who cannot afford an attorney, to have access to the best representation available, and it gives the attorney incentive to work toward the best possible outcome of a case. For contingency cases in Missouri, fees range from 33 1/3 % to up to 50% of recovery, plus expenses. Most lawyers advance the expenses as litigation proceeds and you are only responsible to pay them at the end of the case, if you get money damages. Ask what the maximum fee could be and what expenses you should expect from your settlement.
The legal documentation involves signing a contract that agrees to the discussed fees and giving them limited permission to sign documents on your behalf. The attorney will have you fill out a HIPAA release form and releases for work information so they can gain access to medical information and records. Hiring a law firm is a partnering relationship, and you will be expected to provide some documents from your injury. Be wary of a law firm that expects you to do all of the leg work in gathering your records.
What happens after
After all of the information has been disclosed and the documents have been signed, the attorney will start working on your case. The law firm will investigate, gather supporting documents, contact the insurance company and begin settlement negotiations once your medical condition is stable. If the insurance company is unwilling to negotiate fairly, the next step is to file a lawsuit and prepare for trial.
If you are hit by a car, injured due to negligence, or injured at work, contact The S.E. Farris Law Firm for a free consultation. You can depend on us for honest, prompt answers to your questions, professional expertise, and dedication to your needs. Call us at 314-252-9937 24-hours a day or send us a message.