No one ever wants to be injured or otherwise harmed due to someone else’s actions or negligence. Unfortunately, this can happen.
A personal injury attorney will help when it does. By coordinating with a qualified legal professional, you can get the compensation you deserve. After all, the consequences of a personal injury may extend beyond physical harm. After such an incident, you might be unable to work, incur unwanted expenses, experience a significant reduction in your quality of life, and much more. Holding the liable parties responsible is essential.
The process starts with an attorney consultation. Before taking on your case, a personal injury lawyer will meet with you to discuss the basics. This helps them determine not only whether they will work with you, but what their overall strategy will be if they do. It also gives you an opportunity to learn more about an attorney’s qualifications. You need to know you’re hiring someone who is going to provide strong representation.
Determining if You Have a Case
Personal injury law is complex. If you don’t have the proper experience, you may not know whether you have a legitimate case. Determining if you do is generally one of the first steps taken during a consultation.
Numerous factors impact the validity of a lawsuit. The statute of limitations is a key one. In Florida, a plaintiff must file a lawsuit within four years of the date the incident occurred. That said, if the party responsible for your injury is a government agency, you only have three years to file a lawsuit. In the case of wrongful death, you must file a lawsuit within two years of the date of death.
Your attorney will address this very early in the consultation. Even if you have an otherwise strong case, if you missed the deadline, you won’t be able to pursue compensation.
The attorney will also review the details of your case. They need to know the nature of the injury, who was involved, and why you think others are liable. There are instances when a person may believe they have a valid personal injury case, only to find it wouldn’t hold up in court. Your attorney will clarify these issues.
It’s easier for a lawyer to assess the validity of your case if you provide sufficient documentation. This may include:
- official reports of the incident,
- medical records confirming you were harmed,
- any correspondence you may have had with the other parties involved,
- information about your insurance policy,
- any notes you may have taken about the incident,
- pay stubs (if the injury prevented you from working),
- police citations,
- receipts (if you incurred expenses as a result of the incident),
- information about the properties or vehicles involved, and
- any witness statements you may have collected
Preparing these documents ahead of time is key to having a productive consultation. A lawyer may not be able to determine whether you should pursue compensation if they don’t have enough details to make an assessment.
Obviously, you may not have some of these documents if you didn’t know to collect them when you had the opportunity to do so. For example, in the immediate aftermath of the incident, you might not have realized it was important to take photographs and collect witness statements.
Don’t worry if this is the case. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t contact an attorney. You should, however, make every attempt to acquire any documentation you may not have immediately collected yourself. Try to reach out to witnesses if you know of any. Think about others on the scene who may have taken photographs, such as the police, and ask if they can provide them.
The goal is to bring as much relevant documentation as you can. Once more, this isn’t to say you can’t schedule a consultation if you lack certain items. The point to remember is that you shouldn’t schedule a consultation before preparing as much as possible. While it’s understandable that you might be eager to seek compensation, you’ll have a more productive experience if you wait until you’re as ready as you can be.
You should expect to answer a number of questions about the incident when meeting with a personal injury attorney for the first time – the more detailed your responses, the better.
Honesty is also key. It’s highly likely you’ve forgotten certain details of the incident by the time you’re ready to meet with an attorney. In order for them to genuinely evaluate your case’s potential, you shouldn’t lie or omit simply because you can’t remember important information.
That said, you should also be ready to ask questions of the attorney at this stage. You may want to ask about:
- the length of the process,
- how much experience the attorney has working with clients like yourself,
- how much your case may be worth, who will be handling it,
- how you will correspond with one another throughout the process, and
- any other questions you have related to the specifics of your case
Attorneys are busy people. They can’t devote an entire day to your consultation. However, they should be willing to answer your questions as honestly and as thoroughly as possible during the allotted time, while also setting aside enough time to ask you everything they need to know about the case.
It’s worth noting you should only meet with a lawyer who offers a personal injury attorney free consultation. There should be absolutely no fees at this stage in the process. Again, at this point, the attorney may not even be certain if they will accept your case. If an attorney states there will be a consultation fee, look for help elsewhere.
Additionally, it’s important to seek out a personal injury attorney who charges clients on a contingency fee basis. This simply means you won’t pay any fees unless they first secure compensation for you.
That’s crucial. Again, in the wake of an accident, you will likely have plenty of bills to pay. You don’t want to add on lawyer bills if you’re not going to be adequately compensated. A personal injury attorney worth hiring is one that only charges fees if they help you achieve the desired outcome.
This also confirms the lawyer is confident in the strength of your case. They’re not going to waste time on cases they won’t be able to charge any fees for. If they work on a contingency fee basis, it means they believe in the clients they take on.
A personal injury lawyer may decide whether you have a valid case at the end of your free consultation. Or, if a member of their team was representing them during the consultation, they may get back to you later after they’ve had an opportunity to review the details.
If they determine you do have a valid case, they’ll once again remind you of fees, and provide you with documents to sign if you wish to hire them.
You typically don’t need to hire them immediately. Attorneys understand you need time to weigh your options. Granted, the sooner an attorney can start working on your case, the better. Hire them as soon as possible if you’re thoroughly confident in their ability to provide you with adequate representation. Remember, if you don’t file a lawsuit by the deadline, you’ll waive your right to compensation.
The specifics of the process after you hire an attorney will vary. They’ll usually inform you of the next steps, which may involve contacting the insurance company to begin negotiations, contacting witnesses or other relevant parties to collect more evidence, or beginning the process of filing a lawsuit.
Ask them what’s expected of you at this time. Your attorney will let you know how you can help, as well as how you can stay abreast of developments in your case.
That’s something we value at K Law PLLC. We want to ensure all our clients thoroughly understand the nature of the personal injury process.
Because of this, all our clients meet with a personal injury attorney directly during the consultation. Unlike other firms, where you may first meet with a paralegal or other member of the team, we believe it’s important for clients to immediately know they’re in the hands of a capable professional.
K Law, PLLC also stands out by offering advice regarding property damage that may have occurred during the incident in question. Because I have an Adjuster license, my team and I can provide information and recommendations that other attorneys can’t or won’t.
Most personal injury attorneys don’t help in this capacity. This may be because they don’t get paid for it, don’t have the proper experience to offer accurate advice or both.
That’s just one more way we can assist you during this difficult time. If you’re ready to schedule a consultation with a personal injury attorney, contact us today. We offer locations in St. Petersburg, Tampa, and Bradenton for your convenience.