Most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations. This consultation allows the lawyer to review your case and meet you. The lawyer can help you decide whether you have a personal injury case after a car accident, slip and fall, or other incidents.
The free consultation also allows you to interview the lawyer. As you speak to lawyers, you will gather information to decide which lawyer will provide the best fit for you and your case.
If you are looking into hiring a lawyer, it is essential to learn more about free consultations and what questions you should ask to gather the information you need.
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How a Free Consultation Works
Free consultations help both lawyers and clients. These consultations give lawyers an opportunity to evaluate the merits of your case in order to give you the most accurate expectations. For clients, free consultations help you learn about your case and pick the right lawyer for it.
When you schedule your consultation, the receptionist or legal secretary will typically tell you how long your consultation will last. You should write down some topics you want to discuss beforehand to make sure you use your time wisely.
6 Questions to Ask During a Free Consultation
During your consultation, you want to learn as much as you can about:
- The lawyer
- The law firm
- Your case
The questions you ask will cover many of the topics that will decide how the lawyer will handle your case and whether the lawyer is a good fit for you.
Some questions to ask include:
1. How Much Do You Charge?
Fees can cause friction between you and your lawyer. Before you hire an attorney, make sure you understand how much you will pay for the lawyer’s help.
Hourly fees and flat fees depend on the amount of work a lawyer puts into a case. Contingent fees depend on the results the lawyer produces. A contingency fee has several benefits for the client, including:
- No fee unless you win or settle your case
- No upfront fees to start your case
- A fee that is proportional to the compensation you receive
The value of a contingency fee depends on the firm and the complexity of your case, but you will usually have most of your settlement or damage award left over after you pay your lawyer. In an hourly or flat fee case, by contrast, your legal fees could eat up the entire amount won.
Talk to the lawyer about the fees the lawyer charges. Also, make sure you discuss any additional litigation expenses the lawyer charges, so you know the entire cost of the case.
2. How Will I Get Updates?
Another factor you will want to establish in your consultation is your respective communication preferences. Clients rightly want to know the status of their cases. When they call, text, or email, they expect a response.
At the same time, lawyers need to work on cases to get results. They often spend their day on the phone negotiating with insurers, preparing motions, and appearing in court. They cannot always respond to phone messages or emails immediately.
During your consultation, discuss your expectations for updates. Rule 4.1-4 of Florida’s ethical rules entitles clients to reasonable updates and responses to reasonable requests for information.
Make sure the lawyer understands how often you expect updates about your case. Also, find out who will have information about the case if you cannot reach the lawyer. You will often find that a phone call with the paralegal on your case will give you detailed information about the status of your case.
3. Who Will Handle My Personal Injury Case?
Some law firms use partners to bring in new cases. These partners then hand off the case to less experienced associates. While the partner retains supervisory control, the associates perform legal research, prepare court filings, and appear in court on your behalf.
Find out who will handle your case within the firm. If the lawyer you meet during the free consultation will hand off your case, ask to meet with the lawyer who will handle it.
4. Do You Have Experience with This Type of Case?
Some cases involve issues that most injury lawyers encounter daily. For example, most injury lawyers handle hundreds of car accident cases during a typical year.
But other types of cases might require more focused experience. If your injury involves an airplane crash, you probably want a lawyer familiar with aviation accident cases.
5. What Outcomes Can I Expect in My Case?
When you ask this question, you want to listen carefully to the answer. First, you need to know whether you have a good case. If a lawyer says you might lose the case, learn as many details as you can as to why.
Second, listen to the lawyer’s enthusiasm about the case. If the lawyer feels strongly about the case, the lawyer will fight harder for you.
Third, pay attention to the lawyer’s ability to explain the legal issues in your case. The most important skill of a lawyer is communication. If the lawyer cannot explain your case to you, the lawyer might have trouble explaining it to a claims adjuster, judge, or jury.
6. Do I Have Any Impending Deadlines?
Injury cases in Florida come with deadlines. A statute of limitations decides the time limit for filing an injury case. Florida usually gives four years from the date of the injury. But some cases, like medical malpractice cases or claims against government entities, might have shorter time frames for filing.
Discuss any impending deadlines in your case, so you know how quickly you need to choose a lawyer.
Hiring a Tampa Personal Injury Lawyer
The relationship between you and your lawyer requires trust. Asking the right questions during a consultation can ensure you choose the best fit for you and your case. To learn more about your case and what we can do to help, contact our Winters & Yonker, P.A. lawyers for a free consultation at (813) 223-6200.