How Much Does It Cost to Talk to a Lawyer?Personal Injuries
Talking to a lawyer about a possible injury-related matter does not cost you anything. Personal injury lawyers offer complimentary consultations, which are cost-free opportunities to speak with a law firm. If you have suffered injury or illness or lost a loved one and believe another party is at fault, it may be worth speaking with a car accident attorney.
What Is a Free Consultation?
A consultation is a formal discussion. When you are having this discussion with a personal injury law firm, the consultation is typically free of charge hence, it is a free consultation.
A a free legal consultation allows you to:
- Help the client understand if they have reason to pursue legal action and hire a lawyer to help
- Familiarize a prospective client with a law firm
- Provide answers to any questions the client has about the law, their case in particular, and the law firm in particular
- Help a client determine whether they want to hire the law firm
A consultation is as helpful as the client and law firm make it. If a client asks relevant questions and a law firm’s representative provides clear and honest answers, then a consultation can benefit all parties.
Who Should Complete a Free Consultation?
You should complete a free legal consultation if you have suffered injuries, become ill, or lost a loved one. If you have reason to believe that another party is responsible for these harmful outcomes, you can hire a lawyer to seek the money you deserve.
Specific circumstances that may prompt you to complete a free legal consultation are:
- A motor vehicle accident
- A pedestrian accident
- A slip-and-fall accident
- Injuries from nursing home neglect or abuse
- A workplace accident
- A criminal act that causes you harm
- Injuries that occur because of a defective product or drug
- Illness resulting from contamination, unsafe work conditions, or other circumstances caused by another party
- Fatalities due to someone else’s conduct
These are just a few of the many case types that personal injury attorneys handle. Motor vehicle accidents are the most common reason for personal injury cases, but they are far from the only grounds for a lawsuit.
If you have suffered harm and believe someone else caused that harm, you may have reason to pursue a lawsuit or insurance claim. A lawyer can help.
When Is the Right Time to Complete a Free Consultation?
You should complete a free consultation as soon as possible following an injury. Even if you are not certain that you want to hire a lawyer, remember that consultations are free, and simply speaking with a lawyer does not obligate you to hire them. If you do ultimately pursue legal action but wait to speak with a lawyer, you may compromise your case’s eligibility.
States have deadlines for filing personal injury and wrongful death cases. The length of these deadlines varies from state to state but is generally not more than a few years (and can be as short as one year or even a few months).
Complete your free consultations with personal injury lawyers as soon as possible so that:
- You do not risk the statute of limitations for your case expiring.
- Your attorney can gather evidence as quickly as possible (some evidence, like video footage of an accident, may soon become unavailable)
- You may get the money you need and deserve as soon as possible.
- You can focus on your recovery while a lawyer pursues compensation for you.
If you are considering hiring a lawyer, you have a reason for doing so. You may be in physical pain, emotional anguish, facing financial pressure, or living with other types of harm. You may be suffering through some combination of these damages. To get justice for your losses, hire a lawyer to fight for your financial recovery.
Questions to Ask During a Free Consultation
Many victims of negligence have not hired a personal injury lawyer before. You may now know which questions to ask.
As a general guide, ask the law firm’s representative:
- What experience the firm has in handling cases like yours
- What settlements and judgments the law firm has gotten for clients with cases like yours
- Which attorney will be overseeing your case
- Whether the firm is willing to take your case to trial, if circumstances warrant
- What the law firm will do to ensure your satisfaction as a client
These are general questions that any personal injury firm should answer without hesitation. If you have any other questions about the firm or your case, ask them during the consultation.
A consultation is the law firm’s audition. If the firm does not provide convincing reasons to hire them for your case, consider looking elsewhere. Hiring a car accident lawyer is a major choice, especially if you’ve suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one. Weigh your options carefully before hiring any firm.
Criteria You May Use to Choose a Personal Injury Lawyer
No matter where you currently reside, multiple personal injury firms are likely serving your area.
When you vet potential law firms, consider:
- Practice areas: A law firm’s practice areas tell you which cases they handle regularly. A firm’s website should advertise its practice areas prominently. During your free consultation, you may ask how extensive the firm’s experience with your case type is.
- Longevity: Though a law firm’s longevity does not tell the entire story, it is worth considering. If a law firm has been handling car accident cases for years, you may value this extensive experience.
- Client testimonials: You can review client testimonials on a law firm’s website. Also, consider reviews posted on public forums like Google. The law firm may be unable to control such public reviews, so you may get a more honest assessment of the law firm’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Case results: This is the primary metric by which clients usually judge their attorney. The success of your case hinges on one primary question: Did your lawyer get the compensation you deserve? Reviewing a firm’s case results will show how they have succeeded (or not) for their clients.
You should also consider how a law firm’s branding, and its consultation, make you feel. If you believe that a law firm is honest and trustworthy, feel free to trust your instincts. If you do not trust anything about the law firm, you may give this feeling a similar weight.
Complete a Full Investigation of Your Harmful Circumstances
Before they enter settlement negotiations, your lawyer should have a detailed understanding of your case. They may rely on investigators to help gather facts related to your lawsuit or insurance claim.
Gather All Evidence and Documentation for Your Case
As they complete their investigations, your lawyer may gather evidence, including:
- Video footage of any incident that caused you harm, such as a motor vehicle accident
- Witness accounts of any event or circumstances that are relevant to your case (such as dangerous working conditions, a car accident, or an instance of medical malpractice)
- A police report for an incident that has prompted your lawsuit or claim
- Expert testimony
- Reconstructions of any event that is relevant to your lawsuit
The types of evidence your lawyer collects may vary by case type. In a truck accident case, your attorney can secure a police report. In a medical malpractice case, no such report may exist. An attorney should gather and preserve any evidence that can be helpful during settlement negotiations or at trial.
Deal with Insurance Companies and Others Involved in Your Case
Insurance companies do not always honor their contracts. Insurers have a financial reason to withhold fair compensation from policyholders and victims of policyholders’ negligence.
An insurer may try to deprive you of fair compensation by:
- Blaming you for the circumstances that have caused you harm
- Denying your claim
- Taking your words out of context or trying to have you admit fault
- Offering a settlement that is less than you deserve
- Delaying your claim in hopes that you will accept the lowball settlement offer
A single misspoken sentence can play into insurance companies’ agendas. Your attorney should deal with insurers to protect you. Your lawyer should also deal with civil defense attorneys and others involved in your case. The less you say, the safer your case for compensation may be.
Represent You in Settlement Negotiations
Most civil cases end with a settlement. In most civil cases and insurance claims, a personal injury lawyer will work to get a fair settlement for their client. Whether they negotiate with an insurance company or an attorney, your lawyer will likely seek a settlement for you, too.
Take Your Case to Trial
Some civil cases require a trial. Though it is not always the reason, a case may go to trial because an insurance company or other liable party does not offer a fair settlement.
Before hiring a law firm, you should see if it has obtained financial judgments by taking cases to trial. This will prove a firm’s willingness to take your case to trial if necessary.
What Compensation May a Lawyer Get for You?
Your attorney should fight for a financial recovery that equals or exceeds your damages. The severity of your injury, or the fact that you have lost a loved one, will be relevant to your case’s value.
For example, the National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that a fatal motor vehicle accident costs at least $1.75 million (on average), while an accident that causes disabling injuries costs at least $101,000 (on average). Of course, each case is different, and you might seek much more or less than the “average” car accident victim.
Some recoverable damages common to personal injury cases include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Lost earning power
- Pain and suffering
- Treatment for psychological and emotional injuries
- Vehicle repairs
- Temporary transportation
- Repair or replacement of damaged property
Every victim has unique damages. It is a lawyer’s job to identify and value your losses.
If you pursue a wrongful death case, additional losses may include:
- Funeral expenses
- Lost financial support
- The decedent’s pain and suffering
- Loss of spousal companionship
- Loss of parental guidance
- Loss of the decedent’s household contributions
It can be difficult for a plaintiff to relive the details of their losses. Having a lawyer to investigate, value, and seek money for your damages can protect your mental health.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?
Personal injury lawyers typically use contingency fees. This fee structure ensures that clients do not pay out of their own pocket. If you hire a law firm that uses contingency fees, you will agree to give your attorney a portion of your financial recovery. The law firm will cover all case-related fees and expenses.
In this fee structure, the law firm only gets its fee if it wins for you. If the firm does not get you a financial recovery, you pay the firm nothing.
What Are the Benefits of the Contingency Fee Structure?
The contingency fee structure can be a win-win arrangement for lawyers and their clients.
As a client, you may prefer this structure because:
- You do not have to pay anything out of pocket for a lawyer, which is critical at a time when you may be facing abnormal financial pressure.
- The law firm only receives compensation for effective legal services (i.e., if it wins for you)
- You will know exactly what percentage of winnings the law firm is entitled to before your case begins.
- Any payment the law firm gets will come from your financial recovery, not from your own pocket.
Even if you prefer to pay in a different manner, contingency fees are the most widely-used pay structure among personal injury lawyers.
Call Personal Injury Lawyers Today to Complete Your Free Consultations
Remember that you may have a limited time to file a lawsuit. Research and call a personal injury law firm today to start your legal case.
Nathan Hughey, an attorney and fourth-generation South Carolinian, founded Hughey Law Firm in 2007. Before that, he spent five years defending nursing homes and insurance companies. Leveraging his experience, he now advocates for those injured or wronged by such entities, securing over $220 million in verdicts and settlements.