Accident attorneys, like those at Hinkle Law Offices, offer free initial consultations to individuals who have been injured because of someone else's actions and who are interested in obtaining financial compensation. That means you don't have to worry about paying to find out whether you have a good case to request a settlement or a higher settlement than you've already been offered. The consultation for a car accident case may only be 20 or 30 minutes maximum, so you'll want to be fully prepared before your appointment.
Information You'll Provide
A personal injury lawyer typically starts by asking when and how the accident happened. You'll need to describe what occurred and the injuries you suffered. The attorney will want to know who else was involved in the incident, whether law enforcement determined the other driver was at fault and whether there were any witnesses.
The attorney will probably ask what kind of medical diagnostics you've undergone and treatment you've received, and what your doctor has said about your prognosis for a full recovery and need for future treatment. You can expect questions about whether you've provided any interviews or recorded or written statements to law enforcement, any insurance company or any other law firm.
On a more subjective level, you'll probably be asked about how you feel in regard to your physical and emotional state since the accident. For instance, are you dealing with ongoing disability and pain? Are you starting to feel that some level of disability and chronic pain is permanent? Are you experiencing mental health issues such as insomnia, flashbacks and depression that did not affect you before the accident?
Documents to Bring
The lawyer may want to review:
- the official accident report
- your diagnostics and other medical records
- medical invoices related to the accident
- copies of your health and automotive insurance policies
- photos of your damaged motorcycle
- correspondence from the other driver's insurance company, including any settlement offers
This may seem like a lot of documentation to gather. However, it's better to bring everything along just in case, rather than to not have pertinent documents the lawyer needs during your chance for a free consultation.
Questions to Ask
Don't feel embarrassed to ask what the lawyer's fees are. Accident lawyers are typically paid on a contingency basis, meaning they receive a percentage of your settlement or court award instead of upfront fees. Commonly, the percentage equals one-third of the money you receive.
Ask whether you must pay upfront fees under any circumstances and whether you're responsible for certain expenses even if you don't receive a settlement, such as court costs.
Also ask how long the process is likely to take. You should get a ballpark estimate on the time frame.
What to Expect Immediately Afterward
After the free consultation, the lawyer may offer to take your case or may decline it. He or she may want to evaluate the case further and contact you within a day or so with a decision.
If the two of you decide to work together, you'll sign a contract. You can bring a copy of the contract home before signing it if you want to spend time reading it more carefully. You'll also need to sign a release so the law firm can obtain any medical records you have not provided.
If the attorney declines your case, you can expect a brief explanation as to why. The lawyer may believe the case is not worth pursuing; if so, get a second and even a third opinion. This particular lawyer may only take cases that are expected to bring in a certain amount of revenue, for example. Yours may be worth less, but a different law firm might be happy to bring you on board as a client.