September 16, 2020 | Personal Injury
When you are injured in an accident, it can be difficult to know whether or not you need to hire a personal injury lawyer.
For example, do you need a lawyer if you only suffered mild injuries in a car accident? On the other hand, do you need a lawyer to file a wrongful death lawsuit? Most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations so that injury victims can get the information they need to decide if they need an attorney.
Injury lawyers are passionate about helping injured people. They understand that victims of accidents often experience financial hardships because of the accident. Therefore, they offer free consultations to ensure that people have access to sound legal advice, regardless of their financial situation.
In any event, it can be beneficial to talk with a personal injury lawyer before making any decisions regarding your case. The claims adjuster assigned to your claim by the insurance company does not represent your best interests. The adjuster is looking out for the best interest of the insurance company.
Therefore, it is in your best interest to get the facts about a personal injury claim from a trusted source — an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Nine Things You Need to Know About a Lawyer Consultation
Because most people do not know what to expect during a free consultation, we have listed nine things that everyone needs to know about free consultations.
1. You are Not Required to Hire the Lawyer After the Consultation
When you meet with an attorney for a free consultation, you are not under any obligation to hire them at the end of the meeting. You may take time to think about whether you want to hire that particular attorney to handle your case. You can also seek a second opinion if you disagree with what the lawyer advised you to do regarding an accident claim.
2. Your Time to File a Claim is Limited
Personal injury cases have Statutes of Limitations for filing lawsuits. If you do not file a lawsuit before the deadline, you lose the right to pursue legal action for damages in court. Therefore, do not delay seeking legal advice for a personal injury claim.
The Statutes of Limitations for personal injury cases are in the Oklahoma Statutes. Most personal injury cases have a two-year deadline for filing a lawsuit. However, there are exceptions.
For instance, cases involving government entities have a very short deadline to file a notice of claim. If you do not file the notice of claim, you could lose your right to seek compensation for an injury. It is always best to talk with a lawyer as soon as possible about a claim to avoid losing your legal right to seek damages caused by another party’s negligence.
3. Prepare for the Lawyer Consultation
Make the most from your consultation by preparing for the meeting. Organize your copies and information at home so that you can locate it quickly when you are in the attorney’s office. Using file folders to organize the documents can be very helpful.
Look up directions to the lawyer’s office and make sure you know how to get there and where to park. You want to arrive a few minutes early to complete any paperwork that the office might require. You do not want to be late because that could shorten the time you have to talk with the lawyer.
4. Bring Copies of Documents Related to the Accident
It can be helpful to have copies of documents for the attorney to review. Examples of documents to bring to the first appointment include:
- Police reports and accident reports
- Insurance policies
- Insurance claims information
- Photographs of the accident scene
- Photographs of your injuries
- Information about eyewitnesses
- Traffic tickets or citations
- Letters and documents received from any party related to the accident, including insurance companies
- Instructions and manuals for defective products
- Medical authorization forms and consent forms for medical malpractice claims
- Property ownership records for dog bites and premises liability claims
Do not worry if you cannot get copies of all documents. If you hire the lawyer to handle your case, he will take care of requesting the documents he requires.
5. Bring Copies of Medical Records
Copies of medical records can also be very helpful during a free lawyer consultation. The lawyer can quickly review the summaries to determine the extent of your injuries. If you have copies of diagnostic tests, such as x-rays, CT scans, and MRIs, those can be very useful as well.
6. Bring Copies of Loss of Income
Loss of income includes wages, salaries, benefits, commissions, and bonuses. It could also include other forms of compensation for work. Bring copies of your current pay stubs and other evidence of income.
It can also be helpful to provide your employer’s name and the contact information for human resources or the payroll department.
7. Write a Summary About Your Injury and Recovery
Write a summary of how the accident occurred, your injuries, and your recovery. It can be difficult to remember all of the important details about the accident when you are sitting in an attorney’s office. A summary can also help the attorney quickly assess the situation.
8. Write Down Questions to Ask the Attorney
If you have questions you want to ask the attorney, make a list of those questions before the appointment. Having a list helps you remember what you wanted to ask. It also allows you to make notes about the answers so that you do not forget anything.
9. Ask About Attorneys’ Fees and Costs
Do not forget to discuss the attorneys’ fees and costs. The attorney may charge an hourly rate, or he may accept cases on a contingency fee basis. You need to understand the fee agreement so that you know how much it will cost to hire the attorney to handle your claim.