5 Things to Should Know About a Free Consultation With a Personal Injury Lawyer
Michele Mirman | Personal Injury | January 8, 2020
When you get hurt in an accident, you may have a legitimate claim for damages against a negligent party and/or their insurance company. Personal injury claims in New York can get pretty complicated. That’s why it’s often smart to hire an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you and handle your case.
Most injury lawyers in NYC offer an initial consultation at no charge. Here are 5 things you need to know about this preliminary meeting before sitting down with an attorney to discuss your case.
Bring Any Evidence You Might Have Gathered
Don’t show up to your free consultation empty-handed if you have evidence to support your arguments. Why? You want to persuade the lawyer you’re meeting with to take your case. Telling your side of the story is a great start. However, having evidence to corroborate what you’ve told the lawyer can be incredibly helpful.
Take anything that might be helpful, including photographs of the scene or your injuries, a copy of the police report, and medical records. The attorney might not review them in detail during this first meeting, but they will be able to quickly scan what you’ve brought and get a better understanding of the strengths (and possible weaknesses) of your case.
You’ll Get a Chance to Ask Questions
Your choice of attorney is incredibly important. You’ll want to make sure that you hire someone you feel comfortable confiding in and working with. You’ll want an attorney you can trust and rely on. Use the free consultation to learn about the attorney you’re sitting down with. Consider asking questions like:
- How long have you been an attorney?
- How long have you focused on personal injury law?
- Do you have experience handling cases like mine? If so, how did those cases turn out?
- Who in the law firm will be working on my case? How much time will you personally spend on it?
The answers to these questions can begin a conversation about what your case might look like, should you agree to hire that lawyer. If you don’t like the answers, or if the lawyer doesn’t feel like a good fit for you, don’t hesitate to meet with another lawyer or two. Remember, you need to feel comfortable working with and trusting the attorney you ultimately choose.
The Attorney Will Ask Questions, Too
The attorney you meet with will undoubtedly have some questions for you after you’ve given a detailed account of your accident. They’ll likely ask pointed questions to identify if you might be allocated some of the blame. They might ask the same question a few different ways to see if your answer changes – this can be helpful in determining if you’re being forthcoming and truthful, or to help you find an answer that’s elusive. The point of these questions is to help the attorney decide if yours is a case that they’d like to take on. Attorneys consider a lot of different factors, including the strength of a case and the projected recovery.
Be Prepared to Discuss Attorney Fees and Court Costs
Most personal injury attorneys across the nation, including those right here in NYC, work on a contingency basis. This means that their attorney fee depends on the outcome of your case. A fee is only paid if the lawyer recovers a settlement offer or verdict in your case. In New York, there are strict laws that govern how personal injury attorneys can charge for their services. It’s important to broach this subject and have the attorney explain to you – in plain meaning – what you’ll be expected to pay, and when.
The Lawyer Might Not Take Your Case
Again, just because you’ve scheduled a free consultation and discussed your accident with an attorney doesn’t mean that they’ll agree to take your case. Common reasons for this include:
- The attorney has a conflict of interest
- The statute of limitations for your case has expired
- Your injuries are minor and the projected recovery is too small
- Your case has been rejected by several other local attorneys, and that’s a red flag
- You share too much responsibility for your accident and injuries, or
- The attorney doesn’t regularly handle cases like yours
- The fit just isn’t right.
If a lawyer doesn’t want to take your case, they might offer to refer you to another law office that might be able to help. If they don’t, don’t be afraid to ask for one.