After a serious accident, whether a slip-and-fall or a car wreck, it’s in your best interest to consider hiring a personal injury lawyer. Most law firms require you to book a free initial consultation before they decide to take your case, but what does this session entail? What should you expect? Below is everything you need to know about a free consultation with a Houston personal injury attorney.
#1 Listen and communicate
The main purpose of the consultation is to help you understand your rights and options, acquaint you with the personal injury claims process, and answer all questions you may have. The right lawyer will be a great listener and explain legal concepts to you simply and clearly. However, if the attorney makes promises or guarantees regarding your case’s outcome, be cautious of this red flag.
#2 Bring any evidence you might have gathered
Telling what transpired (or what you remember) is a great start. However, a verbal recount alone is not enough. Bring along any supporting evidence available to share with the attorneys during the free consultation. Whether it’s a copy of the police report or photographs of your injuries or crash scene, these will help the lawyer understand the strengths (or possible weaknesses) of your case.
#3 Bring a detailed record of your injuries and treatment
Besides the photographs and police report, you will also need to bring along medical records showing the treatment you have received. In addition, provide any records or payment statements showing how your injuries have affected close family relationships. Having the right records will help prove your losses and justify your settlement request.
#4 Have questions ready
The initial consultation is your best chance to learn about the lawyer and his or her abilities. Therefore, have as many questions as possible and write them down, so you don’t forget. Some of the questions you can ask include:
- Have you handled a similar case before?
- Who will cater for my medical bills?
- What strategy will you use in my case?
- What are the possible outcomes?
- How long will the case take?
#5 The lawyer will have questions for you, too
Even after giving a detailed account of what happened, the Houston personal injury attorney will have questions for you, too. They want to understand your case’s specific circumstances so they can establish the validity of your claim. That is, identify whether liability might fall on you, determine the strength of your case, and estimate the projected recovery. Sometimes, your lawyer will have to ask you the same question in different ways just to know if you are being truthful.
#6 You’ll discuss potential damages
After reviewing the available evidence, your attorney will let you know all of the damages they can help you recover. Depending on fault and the severity of your injuries, you may be able to recoup various damages, including:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income or wages
- Pain and suffering
- Permanent disability
- Property damage
Your lawyer can also explain how you may lose the right to recover damages, especially if the defendant can prove that you are more than 50% responsible for your injuries. In Texas, this is known as the modified comparative negligence model.
#7 Expect to discuss court costs and attorney fees
Even though you’ll get a free consultation, expect to discuss all the possible expenses for your case during the initial session. While court costs will vary based on your case, most personal injury lawyers will be willing to handle your case on a contingency fee basis.
What that means is that you’ll only pay a percentage of what your lawyer recovers and no other up-front fees. In Texas, personal injury lawyers often have similar fees starting at 33.33%. But, all law firms are not the same – some will charge a higher percentage while others will have a lower rate. A good rule of thumb is to work with an attorney who doesn’t charge more than they recover for you.
#8 The attorney might not take your case
It’s important to bear in mind that scheduling a free consultation doesn’t automatically mean that the lawyer will have to take your case. For example, after discussing your case in detail, the attorney might find that it’s less related to their specific practice area and might refer you to a more appropriate lawyer. Some common reasons why a lawyer might not take your case after consultation include:
- The lawyer doesn’t regularly take cases like yours
- You share too much responsibility for your injury and accident
- Your injuries are minor, and the projected recovery is negligibly small
- The statute of limitations for your case has lapsed
- The lawyer has a conflict of interest
Schedule your free consultation with our Houston personal injury attorneys
With more than two decades of combined experience, the Houston personal injury attorneys at Johnson Garcia LLP will work hard to get you the damages you need after your accident. Contact us today to learn about how our experience and legal knowledge help us anticipate all the tactics the defense will throw your way and give us an edge in court. We’ll fight hard to get you the compensation you deserve.