Most injury lawyers offer a free consultation to new clients. This allows the lawyer and client to meet and discuss the case before the client engages the lawyer.
Ideally, you will meet with several personal injury lawyers before hiring one. Lawyers have different backgrounds. You want a lawyer who understands you and your case and has the skills and experience to reach your goals. Asking questions during the free consultation will help you choose the right lawyer for your case.
Here are six questions to ask a personal injury lawyer during a free consultation.
Using the Free Consultation
The free consultation serves several purposes, including:
- Get feedback on your situation
- Learn your legal options
- Interview lawyers to handle your case
The most important goal for free consultations should be gathering the information you need to choose a lawyer for your case.
You want a lawyer who has the skills and experiences to meet your expectations and accomplish your goals. You can figure out which lawyer is best for your case by asking questions such as:
1. How Much Do You Charge?
Lawyers in private practice charge fees for legal services. Your injury lawyer will charge a fee to help you with your case. Your lawyer will explain their fees and answer any questions you have about them.
Most injury lawyers charge a contingency fee. With this arrangement, you only pay fees if your lawyer recovers compensation for you first. You will pay a pre-agree-upon percentage of your settlement or verdict (usually 33% – 40%) as payment for the attorney’s services. For example, a lawyer who charges a 35% contingency fee earns $35,000 for getting a $100,000 settlement in your case.
You should discuss the percentage charged by the lawyer for handling your case. A typical contingency fee can fall anywhere within a wide range. Some lawyers also charge a different percentage if the lawyer resolves the case before or after filing a lawsuit.
You should also discuss litigation costs. These costs include:
- Filing fees
- Court reporter fees
- Expert witness fees
The lawyer will pay these amounts on your behalf to keep your case moving. But at the end of the case, you will need to reimburse the lawyer. You should discuss typical costs incurred in a case and whether you must pay them if you lose.
2. How Will I Get Updates on My Case?
One of the most common disputes between lawyers and clients is communicating updates about the case. Under the Florida Bar rules, lawyers must keep clients reasonably informed about their cases and respond promptly to reasonable requests for information.
At the same time, lawyers can get busy. Your lawyer might not always respond immediately to emails or phone messages.
You should discuss your expectations for updates about your case. You should also find out who else in the firm can provide case information. Oftentimes, the lawyer’s paralegal or legal assistant can respond to your requests quicker than the lawyer.
3. Does My Case Have Any Deadlines?
Every state has a statute of limitations for injury cases. In Florida, you have four years to bring a case based on negligence, such as a car accident or a slip and fall accident. You only have two years to bring a case based on medical malpractice.
These periods might seem long. But when you suffer a serious injury, significant time can pass while you focus on your medical treatment and therapy.
You should ask the lawyer if you have any impending deadlines in your case. This will help you avoid missing any deadlines. It will also tell you how much time you have to pick a lawyer for your case.
4. What Experience Do You Have with Cases Like Mine?
Experience makes a difference in the outcome of an injury case. Lawyers who have handled similar cases will know:
- The law covering the case
- Potential issues that could arise
- Expert witnesses to help support the claim
Not every lawyer has handled every type of case. Medical malpractice cases, for example, fall into a niche that not every lawyer covers. Ask the lawyer about prior experience with similar cases and the outcomes the lawyer obtained in them.
5. What Range of Outcomes Should I Expect?
A lawyer cannot predict what will happen in your case. But an experienced lawyer can explain the range of outcomes you can expect from your case. This discussion will help you set your expectations for your case. It will also help you quantify the likelihood of losing your case.
The discussion will also help you assess the lawyer’s skills. Effective lawyers have strong communication and logic skills. They need to explain your case clearly and logically to the opposing lawyer, judge, and jury to resolve your case successfully.
Talking to the lawyer about the possible outcomes of your case should showcase the lawyer’s skills.
6. Does My Case Have Any Problems?
Almost every case has problems. For example, Florida uses pure comparative negligence to allocate fault after an accident. If you played a role in causing your accident, a judge must reduce your damages in proportion to your percentage of the fault.
You should ask the lawyer about any problems in your case. More importantly, this discussion will help you assess the lawyer’s honesty. The lawyer must speak to you honestly and openly when providing legal advice. The lawyer must step back and view your case objectively to give you trustworthy advice.
Picking a Personal Injury Lawyer
Unless you have an impending deadline in your case, you should speak to several lawyers and take your time picking one. If a lawyer pressures you to decide, you should carefully consider whether you want that lawyer to represent you.
You should also ask any additional questions you have before hiring the lawyer. You might think of more questions after the free consultation, and you should feel free to ask them.To speak to an experienced injury lawyer about your case, contact or call Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers at (561) 556-7873 to schedule a free consultation.