Our team of Illinois injury attorneys can assist you if you’ve had an accident and wonder if you have a personal injury case. Your best friends, and even distant friends, aren’t lawyers, and with some hesitancy, you go on-line to find a personal injury attorney. You may procrastinate. You may start thinking, “What if I don’t have a case?” “I’ve never spoken with an attorney before. What information will he want from me?” “Will I appear foolish and be embarrassed?”
The experienced team at Lipkin & Apter is here to put your mind at ease. Without you, the client, attorneys would not exist. Attorneys want, encourage and hope that new clients will call. The first contact has two purposes:
• One is for YOU to learn if you have a personal injury case and whether the attorney you’re speaking with has the experience and professionalism to be the lawyer you want to hire.
• Second, reciprocally, the attorney needs to decide whether to take on your case.
Since a personal injury case has two parts, which the attorney will be questioning you about to gain a better understanding of - liability (negligence or wrongdoing) and damages (case value). The attorney you've chosen to speak with will be listening to the facts in each area. To make the first contact go smoothly, consider the following advice. First: Be brief and to the point. Simply put, what is your case about? Be open and honest regarding the liability portion of the case.
There are countless examples:
• “I was rear-ended in my car while stopped at a red light.”
• “I slipped/fell walking down stairs in my apartment because of broken concrete”
• “My mother developed bed sores after becoming a resident at a nursing home.”
• “I hurt my back on the job.”
• “The doctor operated on the wrong leg.”
Perfect. Now the attorney knows something about the case, after just a brief conversation. Lawyers focus on different practice areas, whether you are discussing an auto accident, worker's compensation, medical malpractice, construction accident, FELA claim or railroad injury, nursing home abuse, or another type of personal injury, this background information helps the lawyer understand if and how they can help.
Now, go to the second point, about damages. What is your injury? Have you received medical treatment? For example:
• “I broke my arm and had surgery.”
• “I hurt my back.
• "I have pain in my back and down my leg."
• "The emergency room doctor ordered an x-ray."
• "When my pain continued, my doctor ordered an MRI."
• "He said something about a disc in my lower back. He wants to inject me with some kind of medicine.”
• “Because of the pain I have not worked in 2 months.”
• “My doctor gave me pain pills and recommended physical therapy. He said if this did not stop the pain, he would order more tests, and would consider surgery.”
In just a few minutes, you have forever ingratiated yourself with the attorney because of your brevity, and they will then tell you if they are interested in representing you. If yes, you will be asked to schedule an appointment to discuss your case in more detail, and to have you sign papers to begin the representation. (All such papers should, of course, be explained before you sign. By the time you leave the attorney’s office, most of your questions should be answered.)
Now, YOU must make a decision. Do you want the attorney you’ve been speaking with to represent you? How do you know? Here are some tips:
(1) Are you comfortable with the personal injury attorney? Can you “be yourself”? Does he or she explain things to your satisfaction? Do you find yourself trusting or mistrusting him or her? Is he/she distant? Try to come on like your best friend?
(2) Is he or she experienced in this area of the law? Ask if he or she has handled similar cases in the past. Ask about the nature of the practice and how long he or she has been an attorney. Is the attorney familiar with your type of injury? Do you feel your case will be taken care of to the best of their ability?
(3) Will the attorney you've been speaking to personally handle your case him or herself, or will some other attorney in the firm be responsible for your case? If so, make sure you meet that attorney and feel comfortable and assured they will represent you well.
(4) What is the attorney’s fee? Is there a higher fee for trial? What are the anticipated expenses on the case?
(5) What does the attorney say when you ask the “magic” question, “How much is my personal injury case worth?”
(6) Has the attorney explained the process of litigation and what will be required of you?
If things go well, the relationship should be one of mutual respect, of favorable anticipation and of developing trust. If things do not go well, you should consider speaking with another law firm. The personal injury attorneys at Lipkin & Apter offer over 20 years of legal experience each and are ready to meet with you for a free consultation. Our top priority is to make sure our legal clients are comfortable and confident that their case will be handled with great attention. From our Chicago law firm, we work with a limited number of personal injury plaintiffs throughout the state of Illinois to ensure we're delivering the attention, focus and communication each case deserves.