If you’ve been injured in an accident, the actual process of hiring a personal injury lawyer can feel stressful.
I think that, when we know what to expect, we can eliminate much of that stress, so I thought it’d make sense to walk you through the process.
The three main steps outlined below are how I work. So while it won’t hold for every lawyer, most personal injury lawyers have a similar process and you can definitely use this as a guide.
Step 1: Make The Call
First you must email or call your prospective lawyer to talk about your case.
Generally, if you email or call, one of my clerks will call you back and ask you a few questions to glean a bit of info about your case. The point of this is to help us determine if you could have a case and, if so, if it’s something that I can speak to (not every lawyer deals with every kind of case.)
For example, you may be emailing us with a WSIB claim, and that’s an area that I don’t work in, so the last thing I’d want to do is waste your time by having you come in only to learn I can’t help you!
This call is actually an intake session and my advice is to answer the questions as posed as they really do help us to determine how to best direct you.
This is not the time for me to give you actual legal advice – we don’t have enough info for that – but it will determine if it makes sense to bring you into the office for a more formal conversation.
Step 2: An Office Visit
I prefer that you come to my office for a few reasons, the biggest being that personal injury suits can take a few years to resolve which means we will be working closely together. Thus I want for you to meet your team face to face and get a sense of how we work.
I take a personal approach to this work, and my clients hire me because they want to work with a local lawyer. Although I will always be the lawyer representing and advising you, it’s my team that looks after many of the administrative tasks – including the clerk with whom you spoke during the call. We work in a team environment and, as the client, you are the critical member of that team, so we want you to put a face to the names and vice versa.
Once we’re face to face, I’m going to ask you a lot of questions. I’ll ask you for an update on how you’re feeling, what’s going on with you/your life/your injury and any actions you’ve taken to date.
Together we will decide if it makes sense to move forward. Either way, it’s my job to make sure that you are crystal clear about what I can and can’t do, how things work, and what we each need to do to make your case successful, should we move forward.
Step 3: Sign the Retainer
Finally, if I feel that you do have a case, I will walk through how the actual process works.
For example, it’s important that my clients take my advice to heart. This means acting on it and following through. Everything from attending doctors’ appointments to filling me in when something changes (for example, your newfound ability to cut your lawn without pain, or a deterioration in your condition rendering you incapable of cutting the lawn.)
As much as you are interviewing me, I am also interviewing you. You see, personal injury lawyers only get paid if their clients get paid. This is a true partnership. Expect me to be very clear with you not only about how I can help you, but also how you can help me to help you, namely your obligation to focus on your health and keep me informed.
If you’re comfortable with what I’m saying to you, this is when I ask you to sign a retainer.
Retainers are important because they give me the ability to contact others in your name to collect more information so that I can build your case.
Whether to sign a retainer is 100% up to you. There should never be pressure. If, by the way, a lawyer pressures you sign a retainer, consider it a red flag. But in terms of our relationship, this is the point where I continue researching and advising for you only if you are my client.
Finally, if you do sign the retainer, no money is exchanged. This is a big area where most (although not all) personal injury lawyers differ from their counterparts in other areas of law.
Personal injury lawyers get paid a portion of the settlement they negotiate for their clients. So you see, it truly is a partnership where we win together.
I hope this is helpful in letting you know what to expect when you’re looking to hire a personal injury lawyer. Now that you know exactly what will happen next, feel free to drop us a line or leave us a comment below!