The answer to this question is perhaps the easiest answer of all. A consultation with a personal injury attorney should never cost you anything! Any attorney that would charge you for merely consulting them regarding the merits of your case is an attorney you should avoid. Any competent, reliable personal injury attorney will provide you, at no charge, a free consultation to discuss the merits of your case and answer questions you may have concerning your rights and how to proceed with your case. Since consulting with an attorney will not cost you anything, you should consult with a personal injury attorney who is an expert in the field of your particular case as soon as possible following your injury.
Dealing with the insurance company without having first consulted an attorney is a risky proposition, at best, and all too often leads to situations where the insurance company is able to deny your claim, or reduce the payment. Insurance companies are experts in implementing ploys that allow them to evade paying people what is owed to them, and if you wait to consult an attorney until after the insurance company has successfully implemented its plan to avoid paying you, all too frequently it is too late for an attorney to stop it.
It is important for any person to understand that consulting with an attorney is not the same as hiring an attorney. An initial, free consultation with a qualified personal injury attorney should be viewed by you as an information gathering session and scheduling an appointment is not a commitment to hire the lawyer. Your decision to hire the lawyer is made, if at all, after you and the attorney have discussed the case and determined what is best for you going forward. Any consultation with an attorney in which you feel pressured is a warning sign that you need to not hire that attorney, and instead consult with one who has a genuine interest in your problems, and not other considerations. The law states that an attorney has a duty of loyalty and fidelity to anyone who consults with them on a case, and if you observe anything else during that consultation you should not retain that attorney.
In the initial consultation with the attorney you should satisfy yourself that the attorney has expertise, i.e., substantial experience and an extremely high level of knowledge, in the field involving your specific case. For example, if you have been in a car accident, you should avoid an attorney who is not well-versed in the issues of a car accident cases. If that attorney does not have a high degree of medical expertise to understand and present your injury, a sufficient understanding of physics so as to create a dynamic reconstruction of the accident if it becomes necessary, and, of course, an understanding and ability to apply the law to your individual case, that lawyer should be avoided. A lawyer that is not able to explain to you, in detail, these particular aspects of your case at the time of an initial consultation is a warning sign to you that the attorney may not have the expertise necessary so that you get the highest level of representation. Of course, though we have used the example of an automobile accident, the same analysis is true for any type of injury case.
This law office has seen many cases lost, or the insurance company was able to reduce its payment, simply because someone failed to consult an attorney early enough in their case. Since the cost of consulting with the attorney should be nothing, the obvious best choice is to consult with an attorney as soon as possible.