If you suffered one or more injuries caused by an auto accident, a defective product, medical malpractice, or another type of incident, should you contact a personal injury attorney? The answer is an emphatic yes, as hiring an accomplished lawyer can help you recover most, if not all of the costs associated with a personal injury incident.
Getting a claim approved by an insurance company or winning a personal injury lawsuit can help pay for medical expenses, as well as cover the wages that you lost because of your injuries.
Now that we have decided to contact an experienced attorney, the next question is how should you talk to a personal injury lawyer?
This is an important question because how you talk to a personal injury attorney goes a long way towards determining the outcome of a claim or civil lawsuit. Many of our clients initially had reservations about meeting with one of our personal injury lawyers mostly because of the legal jargon they heard from other attorneys.
- Locus standi
- Prima facie
- Habeas corpus
When you talk with one of the personal injury lawyers at Morgan & Morgan, you will not hear complicated legal terms. Instead, we speak with our clients by using simple to understand language. This is one of the reasons why our team of personal injury lawyers has won more than $7 billion on behalf of our clients.
How Do You Prepare for the First Meeting with a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Learning how to talk to a personal injury lawyer starts by preparing for the first meeting. Most personal injury lawyers schedule free initial consultations with clients that can run between 15 minutes and one hour. The amount of time spent during the first meeting depends on the type of personal injury case, as well as the complexity of the case.
Let’s see how you should prepare to talk with a personal injury lawyer during the first meeting.
Know What You Want to Say
It is difficult to talk to anyone if you do not know what you want to say. This is even more relevant when the time comes to discuss your case with a personal injury attorney. The lawyer who sits across from you is assessing you as much as you are assessing the attorney. Presenting a version of events that are backed up by evidence is a good strategy when meeting with any lawyer for the first time.
You should bring with you the evidence that you collected at the scene of the incident, as well as the official police report that describes the version of events. The attorney meeting with you will want to see you present the facts of the case, without stumbling over presenting them. Presenting a consistent and compelling narrative determines whether you will make a credible witness during a deposition or a civil trial if your case goes that far.
Honesty is the Best Policy
You want to work with an honest lawyer who possesses a high level of integrity. The same principle applies to you.
You cannot expect to gain the trust of an attorney if you exaggerate how a personal injury incident unfolded. A prime example of misleading information is when a potential client lies about how fast he or she was traveling before making an impact with another motor vehicle. “Oh, I was moving just 30 miles per hour” when in fact the evidence collected at the scene demonstrates that you were moving much faster.
Highly skilled lawyers can detect when a potential client is hiding something. Come to the first meeting with a personal injury lawyer ready to speak honestly about the incident that caused your injuries.
You know the timeless saying, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it that matters.” Well, it does matter what you say to a personal injury lawyer. However, it is just as important to say it calmly and confidently. Once again, any lawyer that you meet with for the first time is analyzing your ability to take the witness stand and strengthen your case.
Do not complain about how an insurance company has wronged you. The lawyer sitting across from you already knows that. A personal injury attorney is there for you to provide a measured analysis of your case. Stay composed and stick with the facts, and you should make a positive impression on the lawyer sitting across from you.
Ask for Clarification
You can expect to see a lot of complex legal terms when you research your personal injury case. For example, many cases involve a Prayer for Relief. It sounds like a desperate move for a plaintiff that is losing an argument over an insurance claim. In fact, Prayer for Relief is just a fancy way of saying how much money you want.
The point is that when you meet with your personal injury lawyer for the first time, you should ask for clarification every time something confuses you. Maybe you are not clear about the statute of limitations for filing a civil lawsuit or you do not understand the meaning of negligence. Whatever the reason, you should ask questions when something does not make sense.
As our teachers said in grade school, “There are no stupid questions.”
How Should You Talk to an Attorney During a Phone Consultation?
You might not be able to meet with a personal injury lawyer in person. For most of 2020, attorneys scheduled initial phone consultations with clients because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Does this mean you should prepare differently for a phone consultation than you would prepare for an in-person meeting?
When you meet with a personal injury lawyer in person, you present every document that pertains to your case. Over the phone, you must have the same documents sitting next to you for quick reference.
Your lawyer will want to know the following information:
- The extent of your injuries
- Your prognosis for making a full recovery
- Contact information for your physician
- The amount of time you have missed work
- Your weekly wages
- A detailed timeline of the incident
- The cost of your medical bills
- Description of disability benefits, if that applies to you
One important distinction between a phone and an in-personal consultation: You have to focus more on listening when you discuss your case over the phone. It is much easier to hear what your attorney has to say in person.
8 Questions to Ask a Personal Injury Attorney
Now that we have established an effective model that helps you talk to a personal injury lawyer, let’s review eight important questions you should ask your attorney. You should ask the following questions during the initial consultation, whether the consultation takes place in-person or over the phone.
How Much Do You Charge?
Although most personal injury lawyers charge on a contingency fee basis, you should still confirm this with the attorney that you might hire for your case. A contingency basis means a lawyer takes a percentage of a claim or the just compensation awarded in a civil case. Contingency fees typically run between 25 percent and 40 percent for personal injury attorneys. The amount taken out of a claim or settlement depends on the complexity of the case.
Have You Worked on a Case That is Similar to Mine?
Lawyers work on a wide variety of personal injury cases. Do not assume that your attorney has worked on a case that is similar to your case. This question not only determines whether a lawyer has experienced working in a similar case, but it also should prompt the attorney to describe the details of similar cases. If you suffered injuries that were caused by a defective product, you might want to decline an offer to take your case made by a personal injury lawyer who specializes in litigating slip and fall claims.
Who Handles My Case?
Some personal injury firms sometimes send a senior partner to meet with a prospective client. After the initial consultation, the client interacts with a less experienced attorney. Do not assume that the lawyer sitting in front of you will be your legal counsel throughout the entire process. At Morgan & Morgan, the personal injury lawyer that you talk to initially will be the personal injury lawyer representing you until your claim gets resolved.
How Much Time Do You Have for My Case?
Many attorneys take on too many clients, which dilutes the quality of the legal representation they provide for their clients. Ask the lawyer meeting with you about how much time the attorney has to devote to your case starting today. The key to winning an insurance claim or a civil lawsuit is to start the legal process right away.
How Long Does It Usually Take to Resolve a Case Like This One?
Many factors play a role in determining how long a personal injury case should take. All you want here is an estimate of the amount of time your lawyer expects it to take to process an insurance claim or litigate a civil lawsuit.
Do You Think My Case Will Go to Trial?
The purpose of this question is to determine how devoted an attorney is to getting the just compensation that you deserve. You do not want to hire a personal injury lawyer who thinks your case should reach a settlement before trial. Your personal injury lawyer should be prepared to litigate a personal injury case with your best interests in mind. Follow up this question with “How many civil lawsuits have you won.”
How Much is My Case Worth?
After reviewing your bills and record of income, a personal injury lawyer should be able to provide you with an estimate as to how much your claim is worth. Factors such as liability and pre-existing healthcare issues play a role in determining the value of a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
May I Speak to a Former Client
Client reviews and testimonials can provide you with insight into the legal skills of an attorney on your shortlist of candidates. However, you should ask to speak with at least two former clients. You can expect to speak with former clients that received favorable outcomes, but discussing their cases with you should shed some light on the capability of the lawyer under consideration.
Searching for the right personal injury attorney can be difficult to do. Make your road to receiving just compensation easier by learning how to talk to a personal injury lawyer.
Start by scheduling a free initial consultation with a personal injury attorney at Morgan & Morgan.