9 Things You Should Know About a Free Lawyer Consultation

January 5, 2023
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 received an injury from a car accident, slip-and-fall accident, medical malpractice, or any other unfortunate event, you may be wondering about a free personal injury attorney consultation. Once you have conducted some research for a personal injury attorney in your area, you should schedule an initial consultation where you can get some answers to the questions that have been building up about your damages and injuries.

Most personal injury attorneys do not charge for an initial consultation, and Dolman Law Group 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. Here are 9 things you should know about a free lawyer consultation.

What Can You Expect At This Free Consultation With a Personal Injury Attorney?

During your initial meeting with an injury attorney, your personal injury 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 ensure 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 more straightforward cases, like car accidents with personal injury protection, the first meeting most likely won't take very long. The initial interview will usually last longer in more complex cases, like medical malpractice or defective products. No case, however, is simple or straightforward.

The following are the nine things you should know about your free consultation and personal injury case:

#1: What is the Statute of Limitations for Your Personal Injury Case?

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. This doesn't apply to most people since it is common to seek compensation immediately after an injury. However, sometimes a client may wait years to file a personal injury lawsuit.

In Florida, the statute of limitations for a personal injury case, according to Florida Statute 95.11, is four (4) years from the date of the incident. If the claim is against a government agency, like the city you live in, 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, you meet the necessary requirements. You will not have a timing issue that will prevent you from pursuing compensation. You can advance in your initial consultation with your personal injury lawyer to discuss the particulars of the case and get to know your potential attorney.

#2: Getting to Know Your Attorney

Before you select an attorney to consult with, you want to do a 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.

This initial consultation is not only about whether you think you can work with them but whether you feel they have the qualifications, experience, and expertise to handle your personal injury case. Remember, the personal injury lawyer you choose represents your chance at pursuing compensation for your personal injury damages, such as medical bills, property damage, and lost wages.

Aside from general first impressions, consider if you feel the attorney will handle your specific case well. Do they seem comfortable with the material? Do they seem confident in their abilities? Do they seem believable? 

#3: What Should You Bring With You to Your Initial Consultation?

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

The following are some of the records, statements, and information you should bring to your initial consultation:

  • 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
  • Medical records
  • 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 allows your personal injury attorney to have the complete picture of your case possible so they can provide you with answers on your potential for pursuing compensation. The more thorough the information the attorney has to assess, the better. With all this information, your personal injury attorney can give you the basics on how they would pursue compensation, which gives you a chance to determine whether their action plan is something you can get on board with.

#4: Bring Notes and Records About Your Personal Injury Accident

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?

Since 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, where it happened, who was involved, and how your injuries affect your daily life. This will almost surely help strengthen your legal claim.

The following are some of the pieces of information about your personal injury accident that you should have a record of:

  • What exactly happened before, during, and after the incident
  • Time and place
  • Weather conditions
  • Witnesses and what was said
  • What you experienced during and after the accident
  • 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 understanding of what happened and how it has affected you. It allows them to come up with a list of damages that you can pursue through a personal injury claim and gives a full picture that ensures you receive appropriate compensation. If you do not tell them about 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. Remember to always put your health first following a personal injury accident.

#5: Give a Detailed Account of the Personal Injury Accident

Most of your time during your initial 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. Your personal injury case may develop in a way where you will have to give this account in front of a jury during a trial

This initial consultation serves as a trial run, where the personal injury lawyer can learn the facts of the accident from your recollection and assess the client's believability. Although this may not sound "nice," it's important to understand how you present yourself when speaking about a personal injury accident. Juries believe some people and not others, for whatever reason. 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 to Ask Your Personal Injury Lawyer

This initial consultation is as much about you learning about the personal injury process and your potential lawyer as it is about them learning about the specifics of the case. Before your appointment with your attorney, be sure to write down all the questions in your head.

Consultations cannot last forever, so it is best for both you and the attorney 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]

The following are some of the topics you could ask your potential personal injury lawyer questions about:

#7: Find Out the Viability of Your Personal Injury Claim

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. 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 you want to continue, seek a second opinion.

The attorney may also refer you to another attorney at this point. This uncommon occurrence can happen if your case does not fall within the area of expertise of that particular attorney or if 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 understand why that attorney is qualified and what they can do differently to help you out.

What Laws Can Affect Your Personal Injury Claim?

If you and your attorney are ready to proceed with your case, they will present the laws covering your situation to you. Each type of personal injury accident has its own set of laws that govern how to process these claims. They all have different rules for statute of limitations, what constitutes liability, and what behavior is considered negligent. Make sure to ask your personal injury lawyer about what laws affect your specific case, so you can do your own research after you leave the initial consultation.

Once you have discussed the viability of your case and any pertinent laws, your personal injury lawyer can tell you 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 Compensation for the Personal Injury Lawyer

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 of pocket for an attorney. This allows people to obtain legal representation who otherwise couldn't and gives the attorney incentive to work as hard as possible to get the most money possible. If you paid a flat fee, the attorney would get paid no matter what and would have little incentive to work for more.

Signing the Contract With Your Personal Injury Lawyer

At this point, you will sign a contract in which you and the attorney agree to the fees discussed and give them partial power of attorney, which means they have limited permission to sign documents on your behalf. This is used for things like medical releases and documents submitted to the court.

You will also sign a HIPAA 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: Discuss What Your Next Steps Are For Your Personal Injury Claim

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 potentially a lawsuit will ensue.

Before you leave the meeting and let the personal injury lawyer handle the case, it's important that you know what this process is going to look like. Ask what they are going to be doing over the next couple of weeks and months, so you can have an idea of what you should be doing while you wait.

You still have to worry about recovering from your injuries, and medical bills will pile up. Make sure you have a way to contact your personal injury lawyer to get consistent updates on the claim process and to provide them with details on your medical treatment costs and any other damages that pop up.

Contact Dolman Law Group for Help With Your Personal Injury Claim

Our clients and community have come to expect a great deal from Dolman Law Group. We believe that communication between a client and their attorney is essential to providing quality, personable legal representation, and we take pride in remaining accessible to our clients. For this reason, all of Dolman Law Group's clients receive the personal cell phone number and email address of the attorney who will be working on their case. Potential clients can also expect that their cases will be handled with the appropriate attention and utmost professionalism.

For a free consultation with a personal injury lawyer, contact Dolman Law Group. We are proud to represent clients in our community and are happy to listen to the details of your case. Consult our legal services page to see if we can help with your type of case. If you have any questions about your injury or claim, contact us at (727) 451-6900 or fill out our contact form.

Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers,
PA 800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
727-451-6900

https://www.dolmanlaw.com/florida-car-accident-lawyer/

Matthew Dolman

Clearwater Personal Injury and Insurance Attorney

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess or $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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