Questions to Ask Your Personal Injury Attorney During Your Free Consultation
You’ve been injured, and you think you need to talk to a personal injury attorney. You know they offer a free consultation. But what does that mean, exactly, and what questions can you ask during that initial call?
What is a Free Consultation?
Most attorneys offer an initial free consultation. The attorney will listen to what you have to say and give you some initial thoughts about what she can do to maximize your recovery. All this is provided free of charge. Usually, this call lasts about 15-30 minutes, and being prepared can help both you and the attorney discuss your claim properly.
The nice thing about this type of consultation is it gives you a chance to talk with your lawyer to determine if she can help you with your case.
Preparing for Your Consultation
Whatever your situation, you want to hire the right person to represent you. You have a better chance of doing that if you do a little research first. Look for an attorney who has expertise with your type of injury. If you were injured by a defective drug or medical device, for example, seek out personal injury lawyers who have done well in these areas.
Top 5 Questions to Ask Your Lawyer During a Free Consultation
Before you go into your meetings, write down the questions you want to ask. Keep your questions in front of you to make sure you’ll get the information you need.
1. What kind of experience do you have with cases like mine?
This is often the most important question as there’s no better teacher than experience. Ask the attorney about her experience in the area of defective drugs, for example, or defective medical devices, and ask how often she handles cases like yours.
2. What strategy will you use in my case?
Don’t look for specific legal advice in your initial consultation, as that’s what you’ll be paying your attorney for. But you can ask about strategy or “approaches” she may use to handle your case. The attorney’s answer can help you learn what to expect as far as procedures that will take place, how long the case may take to be solved, and other options may exist (besides going to trial).
3. What are my possible outcomes?
Some lawyers will promise you the moon, but those aren’t necessarily the most effective lawyers for you. Instead, you’ll want someone who will give you a realistic idea of what could happen so you’ll be fully informed. Will there be any major issues that may take up a lot of time? What are the odds of an out-of-court settlement? In the end, will I be better off if I pursue litigation?
4. Who will handle my case?
One lawyer may meet with you in the beginning, then hand your case off to someone else—either another attorney or paralegal. Most attorneys have paralegals or legal assistants who may handle much of the paperwork and scheduling. It’s important to know who your contact will be at the office, as well as how often you can expect to be updated on the progress of your case.
5. How much is this case likely to cost me?
Most personal injury lawyers charge based on contingency, meaning you won’t have to pay them unless they win your case. Ask about the firm’s fee structure, possible additional costs, and see if the lawyer will give you a basic estimate of what your total costs may be.