What You Need Before a Free Consultation

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Most personal injury attorneys give potential clients a chance to speak with them over the phone or in person before the client decides to retain the attorney. The free consultation typically lasts around 30 minutes and gives the client the opportunity to get to know the lawyer, learn about his/her rights, and explore legal options. Save your attorney time by arriving at your consultation prepared.

Follow these steps to get what you need before a free case review:

  • Go to the hospital immediately following your accident.
    • Your lawyer will want you to seek immediate medical care after suffering a personal injury. Request treatment for your injuries right away to help your prognosis and strengthen your insurance claim. Obtain copies of your medical records for your accident lawyer.
  • Bring copies of all accident-related documents.
    • The lawyer may request various documents relating to your case, such as medical records, the police report, workplace accident reports, notices from your employer about time off, insurance company correspondence, and letters from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Bring anything you think may be relevant to your case to the meeting.
  • Get details about your accident.
    • Your lawyer will ask for a breakdown of events, as you know them, leading up to your accident. Take notes at the scene of your accident, while the details are still fresh in your mind. Bring your notepad with you to the free consultation, to provide information as well as to take new notes based on what the attorney says.
  • Talk to eyewitnesses.
    • If anyone saw your accident happen, get names, contact information, and statements, if possible. Find out what they saw and whether they would be willing to record the statement for your case. If you called the police to the scene, the officers should have gotten this information on your behalf.
  • Consider your goals before the meeting.
    • Are you seeking a lawyer during personal injury settlement negotiations, or looking for someone to take a major product liability case to trial? Entering the free consultation with an idea of what you would like to accomplish will save time and help you get the most out of your experience.
  • Write down questions for the lawyer.
    • Bringing a few prepared questions with you to the consultation can ensure you do not forget something important during the meeting. Think about – and let the attorney know – your main goals for the future. It may be to get the most money possible, or perhaps you would rather have a fast settlement. Preparing your notes, questions, and concerns ahead of time can give you the information you need.
  • Make sure the attorney is right for you.
    • Although part of a free consultation is to find out if the client gets along with the attorney, you should at least verify that the lawyer represents cases like yours before the consultation. Look for a list of practice areas, past results, and client testimonials to check out the lawyer before your meeting.
  • Ask about the cost.
    • Inquire about the costs of services. Most personal injury attorneys accept cases on a contingency-fee basis. This generally works in your favor, as you would not pay anything if the lawyer does not win your case. Some lawyers operate on a fixed rate basis while others use a percentage scale. Decide how much money you can afford to spend.
  • Be yourself.
    • Arrive on time, dressed professionally, and with your documents in hand. Tell your story, giving a summary of events. Ask questions and take notes. Be yourself during your meeting, always telling the truth and voicing your concerns and goals openly. Speak up if you do not understand something.