Why Free Consultations are Crucial
Someone injured in a car accident, medical malpractice incident, slip-and-fall, or any other unfortunate event may be considering scheduling a free initial consultation with a personal injury attorney. This meeting provides a chance for clients to see whether they feel comfortable with a given lawyer or firm before hiring them to represent their case, with no required commitment or financial strings attached.
It is common to feel skeptical about anything “free” these days, as free offers are often seen as too good to be true. However, free personal injury consultations do exist, and they are extremely beneficial for both attorneys and injured victims.
Why Free Personal Injury Consultations Exist
Law firms offer free consultations in the hopes that people are comfortable seeking professional advice. A client should feel relaxed and not rush while communicating the facts of the case. This can be a confusing situation where clients may not understand the laws and their rights under them. At the end of the meeting, the client and attorney mutually decide if the representation is a good fit for both.
When working on personal injury or workers’ compensation cases, attorneys are usually compensated on a contingency basis. This means they are paid based on a percentage of what damages the client ultimately recovers. Since these case fees are based on a percentage of a yet-to-be-known amount, charging an initial consultation fee does not fit into the equation. Instead, personal injury attorneys consider the free initial consultation as an opportunity to learn the facts of the case and determine if it is worth pursuing by the client and the attorney. This saves everyone involved time and money if the facts do not warrant further representation or legal action.
Additional Reasons Free Consultations are Important
- A chance to ask questions: the biggest reason injury victims schedule free consultations is to ask the questions that keep them awake at night. No one plans to be injured and people want this part of their lives to be over. A consultation gives them the chance to hear answers about how to move forward from an accident.
- Test authenticity: good lawyers know that it is impossible to magically know the value of a person’s case before it is fully investigated. They may be able to provide a rough estimate based on their expertise and experience, but the true value may change through the process and is ultimately decided either by negotiation or in court. Be wary of lawyers who are quick to estimate the value of a claim and those with eager solicitation letters. Often it is these attorneys who are quick to settle claims for less than might otherwise be achieved.
- Risk–free feedback: further, good lawyers will disclose any potential challenges you may expect to face. Personal injury claims can be a long and tumultuous. Some lawyers may try to get a client to trust him or her by saying it won’t be hard or prolonged. It is crucial for clients to actually learn what they can expect from the case from start to finish.
- Test compatibility: a free consultation offers the risk-free opportunity to make sure the attorney suits the needs of the client beyond experience and qualifications. It would be a disservice to proceed with an attorney who isn’t sensitive or compassionate towards the situation.
- Learn about fees and payment beforehand: while most lawyers work on a contingency basis, some will require being paid by the hour. A risk-free consultation allows for clients and attorneys to discuss payment terms and agreements that work for both of them.
- Learn about all potential services: it is important to understand the extent of what your lawyer can help you with. Representation is more than just showing up if you go to trial; your legal team can help from start to finish with, but not limited to, the following:
- Gathering evidence to support your claim and conducting a detailed investigation into the cause of your accident
- Collecting medical records and organizing the administrative side of your claim
- Communicating with insurance company on your behalf
- Consulting with relevant experts about the nuances of your case
- Confidentiality: At the end, if a client decides not to go forward and hire the attorney, the conversation remains confidential. Overall, there is nothing to lose.
Questions a Personal Injury Lawyer May Ask in a Consultation
The first objective of a free personal injury consultation is to understand what a victim has experienced. Lawyers are eager to hear the facts, but they also want to understand how the accident has changed the everyday life of the victim. Every person and each case varies greatly, but the following questions can be expected at the first consultation:
- Were there witnesses to what happened, and do you have their phone number?
- What type of medical treatment have you received? How is your condition now and what do doctors say to expect in the future?
- Which insurance companies are involved? What conversations were held with them so far?
- How has your injury affected your work, personal and social life?
- What effect has your injury had on your personal relationships?
What to Ask your Attorney in a Free Consultation
To make the most from the session, here are some valuable questions to ask:
“What are the strengths and weaknesses of my case? What similar cases have you worked on in the past, and what type of outcomes resulted?”
Many experienced lawyers can estimate the chances of winning a case, it is important to ask this early in the process. He or she might need some more time to study a complicated case but can most of the time provide a general idea. It is important to choose a lawyer who has represented similar clients in the past.
“How much will my case cost?”
Most lawyers will discuss contingency fees, but some will charge an hourly rate. Unfortunately, there are also many other service fees that can come with filing a personal injury claim in court. A free consultation can only provide a rough estimate of what a client will spend but having a general sense of fees and expenses is a good guide to know if one is comfortable pursing a case in the first place.
“How much do you believe my personal injury claim is worth?”
It is typically a wise move to ask the lawyer how much a case is worth. Doing so can help the client understand how the potential attorney thinks and give an idea of how much money he or she can expect to recover. Every personal injury claim is unique, and no law firm will be able to exactly say how much a claim is worth. However, an experienced legal team should be able to generate a rough estimate based on a variety of factors specific to your case, including but not limited to:
- Fees associated with initial medical treatment
- Cost of ongoing healthcare needs
- Expenses attached to therapy and rehabilitation
- Funds required to repair or replace damaged property
- Amount of time missed from work due to injury
- Impact from injury on ability to earn an income
- Mental anguish because of the injury
- Effect the injury will have on overall quality of life
“Who can I communicate with when more questions arise, and how can I get in touch?”
It is important to establish how communication will take place early on. Ask if the attorney prefers email, text messages or phone calls. This will limit any frustration down the line if pressing questions come up, especially when dealing with an injury.
“How long will my case take to complete?”
Difficult to pinpoint, no lawyer will be able to provide an exact time frame, but they can give reasonable estimates. Case length can help in the total decision-making that needs to be done.
How to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation Today
You can schedule a free consultation today by contacting Sobo & Sobo online, calling us at 855-468-7626, or by visiting one of our offices conveniently located in Manhattan, the Bronx, Middletown, Monticello, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, and Spring Valley. There is no risk or downside to talking with one of the qualified personal injury lawyers at Sobo & Sobo. Knowledge is valuable, but it won’t cost you anything to learn more about your rights and options from a law firm with over 50 years of successful experience.