Make The Most of Your Free Consultation With a Personal Injury Lawyer

Many people suffer injuries and damages due to the fault of another person.  Damages suffered as a result of a personal injury accident can be physical, mental, emotional, financial, temporary, or even permanent.   A free consultation with the right Personal Injury Attorney can prove to be an extremely valuable tool that personal injury victims should always take advantage of as soon as possible whether your injuries and damages arise out of a car accident, wrongful death, medical malpractice, slip and fall.  or defective product.

Statute of Limitations

A person who has suffered a personal injury through the carelessness of another should take advantage of a free law consultation as soon as possible.  You should do this right away because you only have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit.  In Michigan, the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit is set forth in the Michigan Statute of Limitations.    You should discuss this immediately with an attorney during your initial free consultation because if you fail to file your lawsuit in a timely manner as set forth in the Michigan Statute of Limitations, you will be forever precluded from filing a claim for your injuries and damages.

Do Not Be Afraid to Call For A Free Consultation

It may seem ironic, but even though attorneys advertise and invite people to call for a free law consultation, people are hesitant to do so.  Some people feel uncomfortable calling a law firm regarding their personal injury accident.  Some people believe speaking with an attorney will be an intimidating experience.  This should not be a concern, however.  Whether you were injured in a car accident, suffered a fall, or were a victim of medical malpractice, a good law firm will be able to put you at ease during your initial interview and make you feel comfortable speaking about your accident and your injuries.

What is a  Free Consultation?

What does a free consultation include?  One thing that a free consultation should include is a lawyer.  Some firms are structured so that you will speak only with secretaries and paralegals and rarely with an attorney.  You may not meet your attorney until long after you sign an attorney fee agreement with a law firm.  That may be fine for some people but unacceptable to others.  You can discuss how the firm is structured in that regard during your free initial consultation so that there are no surprises.

At the outset, you would really like to meet the attorney who will be handling her case.  This gives you the opportunity to determine whether you feel comfortable with your attorney.  Ideally, your free consultation should include a conversation with a lawyer, not just a secretary or paralegal.

Your free injury consultation should be “free.”  Some lawyers actually charge a fee prior to an initial consultation.  You should never be charged any money by an attorney just to learn whether or not you have a case, whether the attorney is interested in accepting your case, or whether or not you wish to hire that attorney.  Imagine paying an attorney prior to an initial consultation only to realize you don’t want to hire that attorney.  If an attorney insists upon money up front before he or she will talk to you, don’t bother with that attorney.  The majority of lawyers provide an initial free consultation.  Additionally, in disability and injury cases which usually involve percentage fee agreements only if you win, all consultations are free consultations, not just the initial interview.  You should always be able to speak with your attorney for free during all communications before, during, and after the completion of your case.

Your attorney consultation should be “free” and it should actually be a “consultation.”  Sometimes law offices that supposedly provide free consultations merely ask a few questions and, for whatever reason, indicate they are not interested in your case and say “goodbye” without advising whether or not you have a case and why they have declined to take yours.  You deserve much more than that for reasons explained below.

During your initial consultation which may be over the phone, you want to explain what happened to you and you want to be told what you can do about it legally.  Sometimes a person sustains injury but there may be no legal remedy.  If that is the case, the attorney should be able to explain that to you during your free consultation and he or she should explain why.

Sometimes, somebody may have committed some form of negligence upon you but you may not have incurred any injuries or damages.  Again, if that is the case, the attorney should explain this to you during your initial conversation.  You want to know where you stand legally and the Lawyer should explain your rights to you during your free injury consultation.

Sometimes, you may have a legitimate personal injury case but the particular law firm providing may not have sufficient expertise or experience in handling your specific personal injury case.  Rather than simply saying “good luck” and “goodbye”, a good attorney can direct you to law firms which concentrate their practice on your type of case and even your specific type of injury.  This is a very valuable function of a free consultation with an attorney because attorneys know who the best attorneys are in various areas of law and can best tell you who you need to see for your specific type of case.

You should never sign a contract with an attorney for legal services unless and until you are completely comfortable with that attorney and you are satisfied that a particular lawyer is the best fit for your specific case.  When hiring a law firm, you have the right to know who your particular attorney is going to be.  People frequently complain that they hired a law firm thinking they were getting the attorney they saw in the advertisements but instead they were assigned to a very young inexperienced attorney or their file passed through several different attorneys in the law firm that they hired.  If that is how a firm is structured, you should be entitled to know that before you hire that firm.  That is something you can discuss during your free lawyer consultation so that there are no surprises in that regard later.  You have a right to know which attorney will be handling your case.

Prepare in Advance of Your Free Consultation

It is a good idea to prepare and organize things prior to your free consultation.  Depending on the circumstances, your initial interview could actually turn into a series of free consultations as you and your prospective law firm may be exchanging and gathering information which can lead to more information down the road.

How do you prepare for a meaningful free consultation with a lawyer?  There are several things that you can do that will help you learn about the mechanics and inter-workings of a personal injury case.  Likewise, there are several things that you can do to help your lawyer maximize your recovery.

Prepare Questions in Advance of Your Free Consultation

When people call a lawyer for a free consultation, they have many questions they would like answered.  Unfortunately, during the consultation, people often forget several questions they intend to ask.  Don’t be afraid to jot down questions as they pop into your head prior to calling for your initial consultation.  Don’t hold back.  No matter how silly you think a question might sound, always ask it anyway.  When attorneys listen to and answer your questions, we learn more about you and your case and we become better prepared to effectively represent you.  Likewise, you will become more educated as to how a personal injury case really works.  Some common questions during a free injury attorney consultation include:

  • Is the consultation free?
  • How long does the process take?
  • How long do you have to file suit?
  • Who pays the medical bills?
  • Are you entitled to lost wages?
  • What expenses are you entitled to receive?
  • What types of damages are compensable?
  • What information do you need to provide?
  • Do you need any money to hire a personal injury lawyer?
  • Does the law firm you called regularly handle your type of case?
  • Is the law firm that you called familiar with your type of injury?
  • Does the law firm you called go to trial when necessary?

Remember, the above list is just an example of questions that you may have.  You may have more questions or different questions and you should certainly ask them during your initial consultation.

Gather Information Prior to Your Free Consultation

In addition to jotting down questions you would like answered, the attorney will need a lot of information from you to assess your claim.  You should gather up anything that you feel may be helpful to your claim including:

  • photographs – photographs of injuries, car damage, accident scene,
  • police reports – the names of any responding police agencies whether city or state police,
  • traffic citations – tickets and/or written warnings,
  • other driver information – any information obtained from other driver, homeowner, business, or at-fault party,
  • witnesses –  contact information,
  • medical information – contact information for hospitals and doctors you visited or saw after the incident,
  • medical bills
  • letters – letters from insurance companies, attorneys, or anybody regarding the incident,
  • insurance information – regarding your insurance company or any other insurance company that you are aware of that may have an interest in your claim or who may have tried to contact you,
  • medical insurance – health insurance cards and information,

In addition to the above, gather any information you believe may be helpful for your free consultation.  The more information we have, the more we have to work with regarding your personal injury claim.

Keep Notes

It is a good idea to write notes regarding any information you believe may be helpful to your claim.  This will help with a more meaningful initial meeting with your lawyer and it will help you recall things further down the road as memories sometimes fade with time.

In its basic simplicity, a personal injury case will involve two inquiries.  First, what did somebody do or fail to do that caused you to suffer injuries and damages?  What happened?  What did they do wrong?   How were they negligent?  Ultimately, we will have to show why a defendant should be held responsible for your injuries.  Careful notetaking as soon as practical will help us prove how and why a defendant should be held responsible for your injuries and damages.

Next, it’s not enough to simply show that a defendant is negligent, we must also show that the defendant’s negligence caused you injuries and damages.  Were you injured?  How were you injured?  How were you damaged?  How serious were the injuries?

The above issues will be constant from your first initial free consultation through final resolution of your claim.  Consequently, the sooner and more accurately you can record information, the easier time we will have proving your case.

You should write notes about anything you feel is important to your claim.  The following list is just an example of some things you may wish to write notes about:

  • Time and place of the incident –
  • Weather conditions – hot, wet, cold, snow,
  • Visibility – was it light or dark outside, hazy or other,
  • Vehicle speeds –
  • Defendant’s actions –
  • Defendant’s statements – what did the defendant say?
  • Witness statement – names of witnesses, contact information, what they said,
  • How you felt immediately after the incident,
  • How you have felt since the accident,
  • Injuries –
  • Pain – where, intensity?
  • Ambulance involvement –
  • Loss of consciousness –
  • Medical treatment –
  • How your injuries affected your home, social, and work life,
  • Whether you missed any time from work,
  • Whether your injuries prevent you from performing activities previously enjoyed,
  • How your injuries affect your activities of daily living,
  • Whether and how your injuries have affected your family relationships,
  • Whether your injuries have affected you mentally or emotionally,

Again, the above list is not all-inclusive.  You should always feel free to keep notes regarding things you feel are important in your case.

Give Full Disclosure During Your Free Consultation

As you have probably noticed by now from reading all of the above, it is extremely important that you give full disclosure to your attorney during your free consultation.  This includes providing as much detail as possible about yourself, what happened, and how your life has been altered since the incident.  The above note-taking advice will help you do this.  You should not be afraid to talk to your attorney about anything.  Everything you talk about with your attorney in private is strictly confidential according to the attorney-client privilege.

By providing your attorney with detailed full disclosure during your free consultation, your attorney can accurately evaluate your credibility, strengths and weaknesses of your case, and your likelihood of success.   Also, your candor will help your attorney prepare your case for success, prepare for weaknesses, and will help eliminate any possibility of being taken by surprise during the litigation.

Finding A Comfortable Fit

During your initial free consultation, you and your consulting attorney will be exchanging a lot of information.  This will help determine whether you have a case worth pursuing and if so, whether your consulting attorney is interested in representing you.  Conversely, your free consultation will provide you with an opportunity to decide whether the law firm you called is a good fit for you.

Sometimes, the consulting attorney may feel you have a good case but that because of the type of case or certain specifics of your case, you might be better served by another law firm that concentrates its practice in your specific type of case.  In those situations, it makes perfect sense for the consulting attorney to refer you over to another law firm to maximize your recovery and you should not feel put off at all if this happens to you.  This can mean the difference between a mediocre recovery and a maximum recovery.

Discuss and Understand the Fee Agreement During Your Free Consultation

Once you have decided during your free consultation that a particular attorney or law firm is a good fit for you, you should discuss the attorney fee agreement.  You should never sign a contract without reading it until you fully understand it.  The same holds true with an attorney fee agreement commonly called a “retainer agreement.”   Read the attorney fee agreement over as many times as you need to and then ask the attorney as many questions as necessary until you fully understand the attorney fee agreement.  Asked the attorney to explain any part of the agreement until you are satisfied that you understand it and you are happy with it.

Most personal injury attorneys charge on a percentage fee basis known as a “contingency fee.”  Under this type of attorney fee arrangement, you don’t need any money to hire your lawyer.  Your lawyer will receive only a percentage of your recovery.  If you fail to receive compensation for your injuries in the form of money damages, your attorney will not receive any attorney fee whatsoever.  You should ask about this and your attorney should explain this to you during your initial free consultation.

When you are satisfied that your attorney is a good fit for you and your type of case and you are comfortable with the attorney fee agreement, you can then sign your attorney fee agreement and other documents such as medical records release forms and your attorney can begin working on your case.

Law Office Of Donald Peters – Free Consultation – Personal Injury

Thank you for taking the time to read this article about “free consultations.”  If you feel you have been harmed as a result of the negligence of another, please feel free to call our office and speak for free with a personal injury lawyer regarding your claim.  We will provide you with an initial free consultation and subsequent consultations if necessary to determine the likelihood of winning your case and how best to pursue it.  We will help match you to the best and most effective attorney whose skills are tailored to your specific type of case and specific type of damages.   Contact us at (248) 549-3485 for a confidential Free Consultation regarding your claim