People who have been in an accident are often at a significant financial and physical disadvantage, and have no idea what their legal rights are after an injury. In order to give victims a convenient and low-risk way to get specific and relevant information they can use, many personal injury and wrongful death attorneys will offer a free initial consultation, particularly if they take injury cases on a contingency-fee basis.
What Can I Expect During a Free Consultation?
Before an attorney and client can get started on a case, they will need to have a face-to-face meeting to see if they can work together. The attorney will sit down with the prospective client, listen to the client’s story, and offer some initial thoughts and suggestions about the case. A free consultation will usually last an hour, and the prospective client will not be billed for the lawyer’s time.
During your free consultation, you should be able to determine:
- Whether you have a valid claim. The attorney should be able to tell you if you have a case from a legal standpoint, taking state negligence laws and statutes of limitations into consideration.
- Whether you need a lawyer’s help. A good attorney will tell you whether you need a legal representative for your case, or whether you may be able to resolve the case on your own.
- Whether this particular attorney can help you. The best attorney for your case is one who has experience winning your specific type of injury case. If the attorney does not handle your type of accident case, he or she may refer you to someone who does.
- What you should do next. At the end of the consultation, you may sign an agreement for the lawyer to take the case, decide that you do not want to hire the lawyer, or the lawyer may decide that he or she cannot help you.
How Can I Prepare for My Initial Consultation With an Attorney?
The best way to prepare for an initial meeting with an attorney is to bring all documents that could be relevant to your case. This can include medical records, communications between you and an insurance company, wage loss statements, and photos of your injuries and the accident scene. The less time it takes for the lawyer to understand your case, the more time you will have to discuss potential solutions.
In order to get the most out of your free consultation, you should:
- Be honest. An attorney cannot help you if you do not tell him the truth, even if that may include embarrassing or sensitive information. Any contact you have with an attorney is private, so you should answer any questions the lawyer puts to you honestly.
- Make the most of your time. Attorneys have a time limit on their consultations (usually 30 to 60 minutes), so you will want to stay focused to get the best and most relevant information. It may feel good to express your frustration, but sticking to the facts will be more beneficial to your case.
- Listen closely. Lawyers give advice from a legal and professional standpoint, and your best options may not be what you were hoping for. Remember that the attorney is working for your best interests, but can only do what he can considering the facts of the case.
- Ask questions. A lawyer may wish to proceed with your case in a specific way, use acronyms you do not understand, or take one approach over another. If you do not understand something, do not hesitate to clarify details with the attorney.
- Take notes. It helps to write down any notes, such as outlining the different legal procedures, noting how long the case may take to resolve or what your responsibilities are while your case is pending.
- Determine the attorney’s fee. A lawyer should tell you at the first meeting how much he or she charges, as well as what court and filing costs you are expected to cover. If the attorney charges a contingency fee, the percentage of the recovery used to pay legal fees should be spelled out in the fee agreement.
The injury attorneys at GriffithLaw are proud to provide initial consultations to victims free of charge, and we do not collect any legal fees until your case is resolved. To learn more about your rights, simply fill out the short contact form on this page or request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.