What Are Free Consultations & Contingency Fees in Personal Injury?
Going to a lawyer for help after being injured in an accident can understandably be a confusing experience. Short of being referred to a specific lawyer by a trusted friend or a family member, you will likely have to spend some time searching for one that you feel is the best suited for you and your accident case moving forward. As you begin to look around you will undoubtedly see a lot of information out there about free consultations and contingency fees. The following is a brief discussion of what these are and why it’s important to have a solid understanding of them as you search for experienced personal injury lawyers.
What Is A Free Consultation?
Having a lawyer represent you in a personal injury matter is a relationship that the both of you enter voluntarily. Prior to forming that relationship, most personal injury attorneys will want to determine whether your case is a matter they would be interested in handling. When an attorney says they offer an initial free consultation, it simply means they offer prospective clients like you the opportunity to discuss your case with a legal professional at no cost so that both of you can make an informed judgment on whether to establish a working relationship. A free consultation can be done either in person, such as at the lawyer’s office, or many times, especially now during the COVIS-19 pandemic, they can be done over the phone or through a video conferencing platform. No matter where a consultation is conducted, a free consultation is essentially a two-way interview during which both parties share information that is ultimately used when deciding to work together – or not.
What is typically discussed during a free consultation? It can vary from lawyer to lawyer but generally a lawyer will want to make a preliminary determination that your case has a factual and legal basis. To do this, they will likely ask you to provide detailed answers about how the accident occurred and the nature of your injuries and medical treatment. The information gathered during this free consultation will help the lawyer determine whether your case is something they can assist you with.
The free consultation is also an ideal opportunity for a prospective client like yourself to ask questions of the lawyer. For example, you can ask them about whether they’ve previously handled cases like yours and their track record of successes (although you must remember that every case is different, and no lawyer can guarantee any specific result for your case). You can also ask case-specific questions, such as how long the case will last, how the case will be staffed by the lawyer, what will happen during the case, and what communications you can expect from the lawyer during the case. A competent and experienced lawyer will provide you candid and honest answers to your important questions.
Another topic that should always be addressed in a free consultation is the lawyer’s fee arrangement. By and large, personal injury lawyers charge for their services on a contingency fee basis, discussed below.
What Are Contingency Fees?
Lawsuits are expensive and paying for legal representation out of pocket likely isn’t possible for most people following a serious accident. How, then, is it possible to get the representation you need now without having the necessary personal funds available? The answer is by signing a contingency fee agreement with a lawyer. Contingency fees are an important tool to allow injured persons access to courts to hold other persons or companies accountable for injuries and damages they cause. Without contingency fee agreements, injured persons would find it difficult to hire an attorney and seek justice.
Under a contingency fee arrangement, the lawyer’s right to be paid is “contingent” on you receiving compensation for your injuries, whether by settlement or obtaining a judgment at trial. Thus, if you do not recover compensation in your case, your lawyer does not get paid. You and the lawyer will agree to a percentage of your recovery that will compensate the lawyer for his or her time in helping you bring your claim and case against the defendants or insurance companies, which percentage can vary from case to case depending on a variety of factors. Your lawyer will also many times agree to advance the out-of-pocket costs of the litigation, including paying for court filings, expert witness fees, and document copying and printing expenses. In any event, all contingency fees entered in Colorado must conform with the “Rules Governing Contingent Fees” found in Chapter 23.3 of the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure.
Schedule a Free Consultation at Whalen Hersh
One of your top priorities after sustaining a serious personal injury should be to schedule a free consultation with a lawyer at Whalen Hersh. We’re one of the premier personal injury law firms in Colorado and have a prestigious record of obtaining sizable settlement offers and court judgments for our clients. We provide world-class representation with respect to car accidents, trucking accidents, motorcycle accidents, wrongful death cases, slip-and-fall cases, and much more.