You always hear about “free consultations” by lawyers, but what does that really mean, and what should a great consultation look like for someone who needs legal help?
Accident and injury attorney Matt Clark of Chain | Cohn | Stiles answers this frequently asked legal question in a new video below, and we share everything you need to know below about consultations from an accident and injury lawyer.
Accident and personal injury claims can be complicated, which is why it’s most important to hire an experienced and reputable attorney. There are three main points to keep in mind when beginning the hiring process and meeting with a lawyer for a free consultation:
1) Make sure it’s a reputable law firm or lawyer giving you a consultation. Do your research. Look at reviews and comments from past clients. Negative reviews and lack of client feedback is a big red flag. Remember, personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers should be helping clients move forward with their lives. Don’t hesitate to ask a potential lawyer for references.
2) Make sure you’re meeting with an actual attorney. You’d be surprised how often injured clients never get to meet with an attorney either before their case is signed up, or during a case. That is unacceptable. A lawyer should always be available to meet with you and answer any questions you may have about your case from the first meeting on.
3) A consultation should be free, confidential, and with no obligation to commit. Anything other than free, confidential, and no-pressure meetings is never OK.
Once you decide which attorneys you’ll meet with about your case, you’ll want to be aware of several things in preparation for the initial consultation. Most injury lawyers offer an initial consultation at no charge. Here are 5 points to keep in mind before you sit down with an attorney to discuss your case:
1) You Can Ask Questions: You want to make sure you hire someone you feel comfortable with, who you can trust, and who has your best interest at heart. Here are a few questions you can ask:
- What is your experience with my type of case?
- What is your success record?
- Who will actually be working on my case? Make sure your case isn’t handed off to a paralegal or legal assistant. You want to make sure an actual lawyer is taking care of your case.
- Who can I talk to if I have questions during my case? An attorney should always be available to answer any of your questions.
- How long does it take to resolve a case like mine? Potential lawyers should be able to give you a rough estimate.
- What is my case worth? A good, experienced lawyer should also have a good idea of what your case is worth. Be wary of attorneys who make estimates that seem unrealistic.
2) Fees: A consultation should always be free and confidential, and the injury lawyers should always work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you pay nothing out of pocket until the legal team recovers money damages in your case through a settlement or verdict. At that point, the lawyer is given a percentage of that award, typically between 33% and 40% if the case is taken to trial. Review the contract and agree on the structure before signing it. In this format, the attorney is responsible for any legal costs if a case is unsuccessful, not the client.
3) Gather Evidence: The lawyer, too, can decide whether or not he or she wants to take your case. Be sure to come to your free consultation with any evidence of you incident and subsequent injuries. This could include photographs of the scene or injuries, a police report, and medical records. Don’t worry if you don’t have all of the records; if a lawyer is interested in your case, the legal team will be able to gather all of that information for you. The attorney will also have some questions, including detail about any accident.
4) Legal Team: You need to feel comfortable working with and trusting the attorney and legal team you ultimately choose. Some law firms send non-attorneys to sign up your case, or even pretend to be local when their offices are actually in another city. Still others shift work to non-lawyers. Many lawyers, also, will take on too many cases, causing unnecessary delays. Lawyers should also focus on taking each to a jury trial, even this likely won’t be necessary. This guarantees each case reaches its fullest value, and your case isn’t settled for less.
5) No Agreement: While you have a choice on who to hire, the attorney too might not accept your case due to a number of factors: conflict of interest, statute of limitations expired, minor injuries and small recovery, you caused the accident, or the attorney doesn’t have expertise in your case. If a lawyer can’t help you with your case, he or she should be able to refer you to someone who could help.
If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form at chainlaw.com.