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WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU HIRE AN ATTORNEY AFTER AN ACCIDENT

What happens when you consult an attorney about a personal injury claim?

If you're like most people, you have no idea what to expect. Here are some of the most important things you should know:

The attorney may or may not accept your case.

Good attorneys don't take every possible case that comes through their doors. They need to ask questions to determine if you have a claim. The attorney will want to know:

  • How the accident occurred and whether or not someone else's negligence caused or contributed to your injuries

  • How badly you were injured. Minor injuries usually receive minimal compensation, and you may not even need an attorney.

  • What insurance is available. The economic realities of lawsuit require a source for any compensation.

If an attorney doesn't take your case, you can always talk to another attorney -- and you probably should.

You usually aren't expected to pay anything right away.

Most personal injury attorneys accept cases on a contingency fee basis. That means that they don't require upfront payment. In fact, they only get paid if they're successful in recovering some compensation for you.

If the attorney accepts your case, he or she should go over the fee agreement with you. A contingency fee of one-third of whatever you recover isn't uncommon. Some attorneys charge more if the case goes to trial. Also, make certain you understand whether or not you're responsible for any additional expenses, like photocopies, filing fees and the cost of medical records.

The attorney won't immediately attach a value to your claim.

It's rare for an attorney to be able to tell you how much your claim is worth until after you reach your maximum level of recovery. Injury compensation is tied very heavily to the medical bills, lost wages and the permanence of your injuries. You can ask your attorney to discuss the amount of compensation you will request later -- before a demand letter is sent to the insurance company.

Your attorney will be happy to answer your questions about your personal injury case and the process you can expect, so be sure to write down a list of the things you want to know at the first meeting.

Source: FindLaw, "Questions and Answers About Your Personal Injury Case," accessed April 25, 2018