Most accident victims have never hired a lawyer in their lives. You probably need information about your right to personal injury compensation and the process for seeking financial redress to cover your medical bills and lost income.
Fortunately, injury lawyers usually offer a free consultation for new clients. This allows you to gather information about your case and the lawyer so you can decide how to proceed.
Below, you will learn what to expect during a free consultation and six questions you should ask a personal injury lawyer before hiring them.
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The Free Consultation
Lawyers offer free consultations for a few reasons. A free consultation allows the lawyer to meet possible clients. They can introduce themselves and explain what they can do to help the client.
Lawyers also use free consultations to screen cases. As devastating as your accident was, it might not provide the basis for a legal case. An experienced lawyer can usually tell whether you have a case after a brief discussion about your accident and injuries.
Similarly, you will use the free consultation to screen lawyers. As you talk to a lawyer, you can assess whether the lawyer is right for your case. You will evaluate the lawyer’s communication skills and legal knowledge. You can also ask about the lawyer’s experience.
Based on this discussion, you can determine whether to hire the lawyer to handle your case.
6 Questions to Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer
When you make your appointment, the law firm’s staff will tell you how long your consultation will take. You should plan the questions and topics you want to cover with the lawyer to make efficient use of this time. Lawyers can get busy, so you should not expect to take longer than your scheduled time.
Some questions you should ask during your consultation include:
1. How Much Do You Charge?
Injury lawyers charge for their services. But unlike many other lawyers, you will usually pay an injury lawyer based on the results they obtain through a contingent fee.
A lawyer calculates a contingent fee based on a percentage of the compensation you receive in a settlement or damage award. For example, a lawyer might charge a contingent fee of 30%. This means the lawyer will receive 30% of anything recovered for you in the case.
A contingent fee provides several benefits to clients, including:
- No upfront fees
- No fee for a losing outcome
- The lawyer has a financial incentive to maximize your compensation
- Your compensation will not get eaten up by lawyer fees
During your free consultation, discuss the lawyer’s percentage. Also, ask about litigation costs. Costs include the expenses the lawyer pays on your behalf during the case. At the end of the case, you might need to reimburse the lawyer for these costs.
Ask the lawyer if they bill for costs even if you lose your case. Also, find out how the lawyer will ask for your approval before paying costs on your behalf.
2. Who Will Update Me About My Case?
In Nevada, lawyers must keep clients reasonably informed about their cases and promptly comply with reasonable requests for updates. At the same time, lawyers can become busy working on your case and other clients’ cases.
One of the most common complaints about lawyers is that they do not return phone calls, emails, or text messages. Before you hire a lawyer, explain your expectations for updates.
Make sure you understand how often you will receive updates and who will provide them. Often paralegals and legal assistants have information about your case and more free time than the lawyer to provide updates.
Get the contact information for the person at the law firm who can access your file and update you about any deadlines or developments in your case.
3. What Experience Do You Have With Cases Like Mine?
Personal injury cases might all seem the same. But some cases require skills, knowledge, or expert contacts that others do not. For example, some firms do not have the resources to handle medical malpractice cases.
Ask the lawyer about their experience with cases like yours. If the lawyer has handled similar cases, ask about the outcomes the lawyer has achieved and what they can do in your case to achieve similar outcomes.
4. What Range of Outcomes Can I Expect?
An experienced lawyer will usually not give you the exact amount of compensation you will receive from your case. But the lawyer can often estimate a range of outcomes for your case based on prior cases.
This estimate will depend on many factors, including:
- The severity of your injuries
- The duration of your injuries
- The coverage limits of any insurance policies
This discussion will help you set your expectations for your case. It will also guide a discussion with the lawyer about documents the lawyer will need to prove your damages in your case.
5. How Much Time Will My Case Take?
Once again, a lawyer will probably not provide the exact time that your case will take. But the lawyer can probably estimate how long a settlement or lawsuit will take based on prior or current cases the lawyer has against the same insurance company.
Nevada law identifies the practices and procedures insurers must follow when investigating and paying insurance claims. But the time to settle the claim will often depend on the insurer’s handling of the claim.
Insurers often do the bare minimum to comply with the law and take additional time to negotiate a fair settlement. Some will even persist in their denials of your claim and force you to file a lawsuit.
6. What Can I Do to Help?
Your claim will require your participation. A lawyer may need information from you to best pursue your claim, such as:
- Medical and other bills
- Wage records
- Witness lists
- Photos of your accident and injuries
The lawyer will also give you instructions about what you should and should not do during the duration of your claim. For example, the lawyer will probably advise you not to post about your case on social media. Insurers can use social media posts to deny or reduce your claim.