When a person is involved in a Los Angeles personal injury accident, it is important to meet with an attorney who can advise you on what to do. Most personal injury attorneys have a free consultation, which you can start with a phone call or fill out a form on their website, then meet in person.
For many people, this may be the first time they have had contact with an attorney, and it is essential to know what to expect during this initial consultation.
- Know if the lawyer is specialized in the type of case you are facing. Not all attorneys can take on all cases, even within the personal injury arena. For example, having a car accident between private cars is not the same as having an accident with a commercial truck. During this first meeting, you will be able to determine if the lawyer you contacted has enough experience and positive results in handling previous similar cases.
- Describe your experience. The lawyer will ask you to tell him how the accident happened in detail and everything that has resulted from it. This way, the lawyer will be able to determine if you have a strong enough case to start legal proceedings and if he can help you.
- Lawyer-client relationship. One of the critical aspects that you must consider is the relationship that the lawyer can establish with you. Before hiring your attorney, you may have question that you want to ask. It is crucial that you feel comfortable with the person who will handle your case, that they take the time to listen to you and answer all your questions, and that they communicate well. In some law firms, not all attorneys handle the same cases, so it is important to make sure that the attorney you are seeing will be in charge. If not, request that the attorney who will be present at the initial meeting. Receiving professional and dignified treatment is a right that all clients have, as well as being well informed about each part of the process.
- Lawyer fees. Most personal injury attorneys work for something called a “contingency fee.” This means that you will not have to make any payments until they win your case or reach a favorable settlement for you. Typically, their fees will be a percentage of the compensation you get. Make sure you are clear on what this percentage will be.
All Free Consultations Are Not Created Equally
In order to understand how you can benefit from a free consultation, it is important to first determine their purpose. Personal injury attorneys offer free, initial consultations to prospective clients, which means the person seeking the consultation must be actively looking to retain the services of an injury lawyer. Free consultations are not apt for those who are merely looking for legal advice. This is because free consultations are typically utilized to determine whether the parties are interested in working together and whether the relationship would be beneficial.
The purpose of a free consultation is also often to provide potential clients with information regarding the services the law firm provides. Attorneys and their teams will use the opportunity to do their own research regarding case viability. Once that determination is made, the legal team will talk with the client about their options. However, the free initial consultation is not really the time for lawyers or their teams to provide specific legal advice.
What most attorneys will not provide you with during a free consultation is a thorough examination of your case along with advice regarding how to process. A free consultation often means that the firm will review your case and whether or not it is going to be possible for them to represent you. Some firms may offer a more comprehensive review and offer suggestions regarding what steps to take next.
At the Vaziri Law Group, APC our goal is to provide our prospective clients with a good idea of what services we provide and what clients can expect during the claims process. We would like you to feel comfortable with our services and prices before you move forward.
Why Don't All Law Firms Offer Free Advice?
A number of law firms simply do not have the staff or resources to provide complimentary legal advice to all prospective clients. What many of these firms will do is provide you with a quick consultation and tell you whether or not your case is strong enough. Giving you more specific advice will require a thorough case analysis. Many law firms receive a high number of requests for free consultations. If they offered thorough reviews and in-depth legal advice in each case, they would barely have any time to handle their regular caseload and clients.
When you request a free consultation, you may also not speak with a lawyer at the firm. Such evaluations are typically done by an intake specialist or a paralegal who interviews you and evaluates whether or not you have a viable case. In many situations, there is no one-size-fits-all advice or easy answers. Legal problems can be complex. If a lawyer tries to offer you detailed advice on your case without knowing all the specifics, that is typically a red flag and they could potentially be leading you in the wrong direction.
Some law firms do not offer free consultations at all. They will, however, offer paid consultations to prospective clients. During a paid consultation, a lawyer may go deeper and analyze your case, which might not happen in a complimentary session. It is important to remember that if you don't have a case, you will be paying to get information, which you could have otherwise received from a free consultation. If you do have a case, a paid consultation may be well worth it because you will likely get a comprehensive case review, which could help you determine how to proceed.
What Does It Mean When Lawyers Say They Offer Free Consultations?
A free initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer gives both the prospective client and the lawyer an opportunity to get to know each other and to make a determination as to whether they can work with each other. Free, initial consultations do not obligate you to retain the services of that lawyer. It is also important to understand that a free consultation does not mean that the attorney is representing you or providing you with legal advice. Doing so would require a formal agreement, which is written and agreed upon when you decide to hire them.
A free consultation with a personal injury lawyer typically includes the following:
- A look at the facts and circumstances of your accident and injuries
- An honest assessment with regard to the viability of your claim
- An explanation of what the claims process entails
- An opportunity to ask questions and get answers.
During this consultation, it is best to begin by telling the lawyer the details of your accident and injury. Bring documents such as your medical records, hospital bills and any evidence you may have such as photos and videos. You should come prepared for the attorneys to ask you questions about your accident, injuries and the impact this event has had on your life, health and well-being. You should also be prepared to ask the attorney questions about their experience, track record of handling similar claims, their results, fee structure and how they communicate with clients.
Getting Help After An Accident
A free consultation with an attorney is a tool to help you decide if they are the right for you. It is not a means to receive definitive legal advice on how to handle your case or how to proceed with your personal injury case.
If you were injured due to someone else's negligence, our legal team can help you exercise your rights. Call us for a free, complete, and confidential consultation.