Most personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation to prospective clients. These meetings serve two primary purposes. First, they allow you to interview the lawyer to determine whether to hire them for your personal injury case. Second, they provide an opportunity for the lawyer to assess your case and ensure you have a valid claim.
To gather the information you need, you should arrive with a list of questions and discussion topics. You will use the answers to these questions to help you decide how to proceed with your case.
Start by Setting up a Free Consultation
When you make your appointment, the firm will tell you how much time you’ll have with the attorney. You should plan the questions to ask with this time limit in mind so you can get through all of them.
You will begin your consultation by explaining your accident and the injuries you suffered. The lawyer will then assess your case and determine the strength of your claim before explaining your options and how they can help you.
At the end of the consultation, you have no obligation to hire the law firm. You are free to consult other lawyers and hire them if they are a better fit for your needs.
The Best Questions to Ask a Personal Injury Lawyer During a Free Initial Consultation
The questions you ask a lawyer should cover the terms of your possible representation and how they would handle your case if hired. At the end of the consultation, you should have gathered enough information to determine whether you have a case and whether you’ve found the right lawyer to represent you.
Some questions can be especially helpful for making this assessment. They include the following:
1. How Much Do You Charge?
All injury lawyers charge for their services. However, the billing system that personal injury lawyers commonly use differs from the way that other lawyers charge for their services. The contingency fee favored by these lawyers gets calculated and paid at the end of the case based on the compensation recovered.
This type of fee has several benefits for injured clients:
- You only pay if the lawyer settles or wins the case
- You do not pay any upfront fees
- The lawyer calculates your fee based on the amount recovered
Contingency fees can vary based on the lawyer’s experience and the difficulty of your case. Illinois also has a law that caps contingency fees in medical malpractice cases. But fees in other cases, like those involving car accidents, can vary widely. Take the time to ask any lawyer you might work with about the fees they charge.
2. Who Will Be Responsible for Updating Me About the Status of My Case?
Lawyers have a duty to provide updates about your case as it progresses and to respond to reasonable requests for information. But lawyers can get busy. Don’t be surprised if your case updates come from a legal assistant or paralegal.
Discuss how often you will receive case updates, and ask the lawyer who to talk to when you cannot reach them directly. Maintaining an open line of communication with the firm ensures you and your lawyer remain on the same page about your case.
3. Have You Handled Similar Cases in the Past?
Experience matters to your case’s outcome. When you meet the lawyer, ask about their experience. It’s important that the lawyer has a history of handling cases similar to yours. For example, one who typically handles medical malpractice claims might not be able to handle your workplace injury case.
The best lawyer for your case will:
- Understand the relevant laws
- Know experts who can provide helpful testimony
- Have experience dealing with the insurers handling your case
During your discussion, you can also ask about the outcomes of similar cases they have handled. Understanding the possible outcomes will help you set expectations for your case.
4. Are There Any Deadlines I Should Be Aware Of?
Illinois has a statute of limitations for personal injury claims. But the application of this law and its exceptions sometimes require complicated legal analysis. Discuss any impending deadlines in your case so you know how long you have to hire a lawyer and file your claim.
5. Will I Run into Any Problems with My Claim?
Lawyers have a duty to give clients like you an objective assessment of your case, including any problems you could face along the way. You need this information to decide how to proceed.
To get the clearest and most useful assessment of your situation, disclose all relevant information to the lawyer. Your conversation is covered by attorney-client confidentiality, which means you need not worry about the lawyer using or disclosing your private information.
As the lawyer reviews the strengths and weaknesses of your case, listen for their ability to analyze and explain the law. A lawyer’s job requires strong communication skills. If you have difficulty following the lawyer’s explanation, you should consider hiring someone else.
6. How Can I Support a Successful Outcome?
Your case will require a strong working relationship between you and your lawyer. Each of you will play a part in getting the best possible outcome for your claim.
Your lawyer will do the heavy lifting in your case by gathering medical records, accident reports, and other evidence. They will also act as the point of contact with the insurance company and any opposing lawyers.
But you also play a role in your case. The lawyer may need your help with getting access to documents. You will need to keep your attorney in the loop on your medical treatment and any out-of-pocket expenses you incur.
You also need to follow the lawyer’s instructions. For example, an attorney may ask you to refrain from posting about your legal matter on social media. Working closely with your lawyer will put you in the best position to win or settle your case.
Choosing the Right Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer for Representation
You should select a lawyer based on your personal preferences and goals. It’s best to choose someone who communicates clearly and logically and with whom you can develop a strong working relationship.
These characteristics will give you a lawyer who will be the trusted advisor, advocate, and negotiator you need for your case. Contact our to our Chicago personal injury attorneys at (312) 929 2884 for a free consultation to discuss your situation and how Attorneys of Chicago Personal Injury Lawyers can help you.