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9 Things You Should Know About a Free Lawyer Consultation

Helpful hints about a Free Consultation with a Personal Injury Law Firm

If you’ve been injured in an accident, slip-and-fall, medical malpractice, or any other unfortunate event, you may be wondering about a free attorney consultation. Once you have conducted some research for a personal injury attorney in your area, you are ready to schedule an initial consultation where you can get some answers to the questions that have been building up in your mind. Most personal injury attorneys do not charge for an initial consultation, and Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA is no different. We offer legal advice during an obligation-free initial consultation with any person who has been injured and needs answers.

So, what can you expect at this free consultation with an attorney?

During your initial meeting with an injury attorney, your lawyer will first want to hear a detailed account of what happened. They will be collecting a variety of information from you during this process, but for the most part, it’s nothing that you do not already have the answers to. This article will help you to be sure that you are prepared, know what to expect and bring the necessary documents to make your initial consultation as fruitful as possible.

You should know that the length of the initial interview varies widely, depending on the type of negligence and the circumstances that led to your injuries. For cases that are more straightforward, like car accidents with PIP, the first meeting most likely won’t take very long. In more complex cases, like medical malpractice or defective products, the initial interview will usually last longer. No case, however, is simple or straightforward.

The nine things you need to know about your consultation:

#1 Statute of Limitations

Before you give much thought to pursuing a personal injury lawsuit for your injury, you must first consider whether or not your case has expired. For most people, this doesn’t apply, since it is common to seek compensation right away after an injury. However, in some instances, for whatever reason, a client may be wanting to file a lawsuit years later.

All states are different, but in Florida, the statute of limitations for a personal injury case is four (4) years from the date of the incident. If the claim is against a government agency, like the city you live in, then you only have three (3) years. For wrongful death suits, the limit is two (2) years from the date of death.

If your incident happened less than the above number of years ago, you are good to go.

#2 Getting to Know Your Attorney

Before you select an attorney to consult with, you will want to do some basic internet research on them. Look at websites like Avvo.com, SuperLawyers.com, the Florida State Bar Association, and of course, Google Reviews. These are great places to start.

Remember, the consultation is as much your time to get to know the attorney(s) you will be working with as it is their time to understand your case, answer your questions, and provide basic legal advice. Most people know right away if they like someone, trust someone, or think they will be a good match. Aside from general first impressions, consider if you feel like the attorney will do a good job handling your specific case. Do they seem comfortable with the material? Do they seem confident in their abilities? Do they seem believable? 

#3 What to Bring With You

Your personal injury attorney will want to review your case using as much information as possible. For this reason, it’s important to bring with you any and all documentation that you have regarding the injury and accident. This includes:

  • Photographs of the accident and injury(s)
  • Accident reports
  • Police investigation notes
  • Citations or tickets
  • Witness statements or contact information
  • Self-taken notes about your injury (see #4)
  • Doctor’s notes and emergency room notes
  • X-Ray and MRI results
  • Automobile and health insurance cards/information
  • Other driver’s information or information about the property where your accident occurred.

Bringing all this information gives your attorney the biggest, most complete picture of your case possible so that you can receive the most accurate information possible. The more thorough the information the attorney has to assess, the better.

#4 Notes about Injury and Claim

There are two critical issues that will arise over and over again during your injury claim:

  • What exactly happened during the incident that caused the claim?
  • What kind of harm or injury resulted?

Because these issues will come up at almost every stage of the process, it is important to have a clear record to refer back to so you don’t forget important points. See this article for more detailed information about what to do at the scene of an accident.

In order to preserve this information, take detailed notes immediately after the incident and throughout the process, including what happened and how your injuries affect your daily life. This will almost surely help strengthen your legal claim.

As soon as possible, write down everything you can think of that relates to:

  • What exactly happened before, during, and after the incident
  • Time and place
  • Weather conditions
  • Witnesses and what was said
  • What you experienced and felt
  • Type and extent of your injuries (both physical and mental)
  • Any medical treatment you receive and any 
  • The effect of your injuries on your work, social, and personal life
  • Time missed from work, as well as any events you had to cancel
  • The effects that your injuries have had on your close family relationships

This information, both at the consultation and later, can help your attorney to gain a greater understandinga of what happened and how it has affected you. This way, they can be sure that you are compensated appropriately. If you do not tell them about something, or forget to mention something, the attorney couldn’t possibly include it in a demand or claim.

If you cannot collect some of this immediate information because of the seriousness of your injury, be sure to have a trusted friend or family member do so.

#5 Give a Detailed Account

The majority of your time at a consultation will consist of you giving your account of what happened during your accident, injury, or illness. During or after you give your description, the attorney will ask you detailed questions to provoke more information and to gain a greater understanding of what happened. It is best for everybody if you attorney has all the facts.

The attorney will also use this time to assess the client and their believability. Although this may not sound “nice,” it’s a fact of life. Juries believe some people and not others, for whatever reason. Of course, an attorney will not turn down a viable case because of this, but they may use this information to help coach you for future scenarios, like a deposition.

#6 Come Prepared With Questions

Before your appointment with your attorney, be sure to write down all the questions that have been gathering in your head. Consultations cannot last forever, so it is best for both you and the attorney you meet with that you have your questions already prepared. Make sure you cover anything that you have been wondering about. This is half the reason for a consultation in the first place.

[Here are some answers to Frequently Asked Questions]

Some good question topics to be thinking about include:

  • Ask about how your medical treatment will be paid for.
  • Understand how long the process will take.
  • Evidence you were able to collect and some other types of evidence you could still gather.
  • Things you should avoid after your car accident or other personal injury accident.
  • What can I expect to happen after my free legal consultation?
  • Information about your, and the other parties, insurance companies and how that works.
  • How much time do I have after my accident to decide whether or not to sue?
  • Is hiring legal representation necessary to handle my case?
  • How long will it take to resolve my personal injury case?
  • What can I expect if I choose to hire Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA?
  • Get to know what damages you could expect for you specific situation during the consultation.
  • How is my legal representation paid for?

#7 Viability and Laws of Your Case

Once you have given your account of what happened and told the attorney about your injuries, they will present you with information about the viability of your case. Not all cases need lawsuits, nor are all cases capable of receiving money from an insurance company. This is just how it is. It is better to know now if your case is not worth pursuing than to waste your own time. If this happens, and you feel that you want to continue on, seek a second opinion.

The attorney may also refer you to another attorney at this point. This is not a common occurrence, but it does happen. Perhaps your case does not fall within the area of expertise of that particular attorney, or maybe there is a class action lawsuit you can be a part of. A good attorney will always know their limitations and not just take on any case as a way to make more money. If an attorney refers you to someone else, they probably have a decent understanding about why that attorney is qualified and what they can do differently to help you out.

If you, and your attorney, are ready to proceed with your case, they will present to you the laws that cover your situation, what they feel are your best possible options, and the strategy they will employ to get you compensation. Obviously, they will not have a detailed plan of action ready to go in 30 minutes, but they can give you some ideas. This is often an exciting part of the consultation for clients as they feel relief that they’re on the track to compensation.

#8 Discuss Fees and Sign Documents

Once you and your attorney have discussed possible options, strategies, and a general plan of action, it is time to handle the logistics. Most personal injury attorneys take cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning that they will only be paid for their work if they recover compensation for your injuries. This is the best plan for both parties. Often, injured victims cannot afford to pay out pocket for an attorney. This allows people to obtain legal representation who otherwise couldn’t. It also gives the attorney incentive to work as hard as possible to get you the most money possible. If you paid a flat fee, the attorney would get paid no matter what and would have little incentive to fight for more.

At this point you will sign a contract in which you and the attorney agree to the fees discussed and give them limited permission to sign documents on your behalf—this is called the partial power of attorney. This is used for things like medical releases and documents submitted to the court. You will also sign an HIPPA release form so that your attorney can request your medical information and records. This way, they can handle the majority of the work for you, without you having to run around town or spend hours on the phone searching for documents.

#9 What’s Next?

After you have covered all the information above, and the contract and documents are signed, the attorney and their team of paralegals will begin handling your case. At this point, they will start notifying the insurance company(s) of their demands, and negotiations will begin. If things cannot be worked out directly with the insurance company, then mediation, arbitration, and eventually a lawsuit will ensue.

For more information about the possible outcomes of your case, check out this article.

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA Free Consultation

Our clients and community have come to expect a great deal from Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA. We believe that communication between a client and their attorney is essential to providing quality, personable legal representation. For this reason, all of Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA’s clients receive the personal cell phone number and email address of the attorney who will be working on their case. We take pride in remaining accessible to our clients. Potential clients can also expect that their case will be handled with the appropriate attention and utmost professionalism. We are proud to represent clients in our community and we will be proud to represent you also. If you have any questions about your injury or claim, contact us at (727) 451-6900 or fill out our contact form.

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 727-451-6900 https://www.dolmanlaw.com/florida-car-accident-lawyer/