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Six Questions to Ask an NYC Personal Injury Lawyer During a Free Consultation

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Six Questions to Ask an NYC Personal Injury Lawyer During a Free Consultation

Six Questions to Ask an NYC Personal Injury Lawyer During a Free ConsultationOne of the most important decisions you make for your personal injury case will be your choice of a lawyer. This is true whether you’re in a car accident, slip and fall, or some other accident. If you pick the right personal injury attorney, you will work together as a team to reach your goals for your case. If you pick the wrong lawyer, you could lose your case or get a sub-par settlement.

Most injury lawyers in NYC offer a free consultation to new clients. During this consultation, you meet the lawyer and talk about your case. More importantly, you will interview the lawyer to gather the information you need to pick the right one.

Here is some information about free consultations and some questions to ask an NYC personal injury lawyer.

What Happens in a Free Initial Consultation?

When you schedule a free consultation, the lawyer’s staff will probably tell you how long your consultation will last. Use this time efficiently. Free does not mean unlimited. The lawyer will have other things to do that day, so use the lawyer’s time courteously.

When you sit down with the lawyer, you will probably start by telling your story about your accident and the injuries you suffered. This will help the lawyer understand how much compensation you might seek.

The lawyer will usually ask a few questions while you explain your situation. The questions will help the lawyer understand your case well enough to assess your chances of winning or settling your claim.

You should also ask questions so you can assess the lawyer. To pick a lawyer, you need all of the information you can gather. If the lawyer does not fit your expectations for your case, you want to know it as soon as possible.

Top Questions to Ask

Here are six questions you should ask an NYC personal injury lawyer during a free consultation:

1. How Much Do You Charge?

Some of the most common disputes between lawyers and clients come from misunderstandings about fees. A lawyer will charge a fee for your representation. In an injury case, the lawyer will probably charge a contingent fee.

A contingent fee means that the amount of the fee depends — or is contingent upon — the outcome of the case. If the lawyer loses the case, the lawyer gets nothing.

If the lawyer wins or settles the case, the lawyer takes a percentage of your damage award or settlement as a fee. A typical contingent fee runs between 30% and 40%. Talk to the lawyer about the percentage charged.

Also, talk to the lawyer about costs. Injury lawyers often front the law firm’s money to pay court reporters, filing fees, and expert witnesses. But at the end of the case, you must reimburse the lawyer for those costs. Talk to the lawyer about whether you must pay costs if you lose your case.

2. How Will You Keep Me Up-to-Date on My Case?

The most common complaint about lawyers surrounds client communication. The New York Rules of Professional Conduct require lawyers to:

  • Keep clients reasonably informed about the case’s status
  • Promptly respond to a client’s reasonable request for information

Lawyers get busy. And sometimes, they get too busy to immediately take your phone call or answer your email. Discuss what you should do when you want an update about your case. Find out whether the lawyer’s staff can provide updates when you cannot reach the lawyer.

3. What Experience Do You Have in Cases Like Mine?

All lawyers take the same core classes in law school. But they have different experiences after law school. These experiences help a lawyer develop a deep knowledge of the laws and procedures for handling cases.

Tort law covers many types of personal injury, including:

Not every lawyer has experience with every type of case. While some threads tie together all tort cases, prior experience in similar cases can provide valuable insight that can help you get a better or quicker outcome.

Ask if the lawyer has handled similar cases and what the outcome was. This will help you to assess whether the lawyer fits your needs.

4. What Outcomes Can I Expect from My Case?

As the lawyer listens to your story, the lawyer will spot issues in your case. Some of these issues help your case, while others may hurt your case. For example, if you bear some fault for your accident, you might only recover a portion of your damages. For example, under New York’s comparative fault rules, if you were 15% at fault for your accident, you can only get 85% of your damages.

The lawyer can assess the merits and value of your case. Using this information, you can decide whether to proceed with your case.

5. How Long Will My Case Take?

Injury cases vary in the amount of time they take. Some settle relatively quickly within a month or two after filing the insurance claim. Others require drawn-out negotiations or even a lawsuit before the case ends.

An experienced lawyer can give you a window for when your case might get resolved. Just keep in mind that a lot of factors go into this estimate, so the lawyer cannot guarantee the results or the timeframe.

6. What Can I Do to Help?

Most accident victims assume lawyers work independently of their clients. This is not true. Your lawyer is your representative who acts on your behalf. The lawyer will provide legal advice and counsel to you. Based on this advice, you will choose a legal strategy and instruct the lawyer.

Talk to the lawyer during the free consultation about what you can do to help. The lawyer can often get a better or faster outcome with your assistance.

Hiring an NYC Personal Injury Lawyer

Talk to a few different lawyers. When it comes time to pick one, go with the one that fits your expectations. Your lawyer should agree with your preferred strategy. And you should have complementary personalities so you can form a good working relationship.

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