The risk assessment meeting is a crucial part of the journey to getting you the resolution you deserve. Having this meeting with your personal injury attorney will help you understand whether moving forward with filing a lawsuit is right for you or not. Not all personal injury attorneys offer risk assessment meetings. This is a benefit of working with a small firm rather than a large firm, like Hancock Law in Southwest Florida.
The purpose of the risk assessment meeting is to make sure people understand the potential outcomes and risks that come with filing a lawsuit (a.k.a. “litigation”). You might see or hear advertising on TV or the radio by the larger law firms making claims about how deciding to file suit will get you incredibly high recoveries, but they make no mention of the case-specific nature of making the decision to file a lawsuit in the first place. Every case is different and the details of your case truly do matter.
You can expect the risk assessment meeting to last anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. Kenneth is always careful to ensure that his clients understand the extent of what moving forward with litigation means. The choice to file a lawsuit is yours to make, not your lawyer’s.
Whether the case is in DeSoto, Manatee, Sarasota, or Charlotte County, Kenneth always meets clients in person for the risk assessment meeting. Depending on the circumstance, a client’s spouse will attend the meeting as well. In the risk assessment meeting with your personal injury attorney, there are three major factors to go over: time, money, and risk.
Time: It’s important to know that a lawsuit can be a lengthy process — two years would be a fast track to getting in front of a jury. Not only does the overall life of the case take a long time, but it is also very time-consuming for you, personally. This is especially true in the beginning. For example, each discovery request from opposing counsel will require several lengthy meetings to discuss and review responses. You will also have to meet with Kenneth to prepare for a deposition, which is a question/answer session with the opposing attorney. Between your prep meeting with Kenneth and the deposition, you will spend 3-5 hours of personal time. These time elements are crucial in making your decision to file a suit or not. Naturally, not everyone will want to enlist in what can be a lengthy endeavor.
Money: Hancock Law represents clients on a contingency fee basis, which means we charge clients nothing upfront. It’s important to note that once the insurance company’s attorney answers the lawsuit, Hancock Law’s contingency fee percentage increases. Costs, another deduction from your recovery, also increase. Pre-suit (i.e., before a lawsuit is filed), fees are just ⅓ of the recovery; costs are usually a few hundred dollars. In litigation, fees increase to 40%. Up through mediation, costs are routinely in the $5,000 range. Costs through to trial are $30,000-$50,000 on the low end. It is not uncommon for costs to be in the six-figure range (e.g. $100k +).
Risk: Kenneth will review liability, causation, and damages with you to assess not only the strengths of your case but also the counterarguments that the insurance defense attorney is likely to make. Additionally, Kenneth always makes sure his clients understand one of the most common but least known risks of filing suit. Here it is: You can actually win your case, but if you don’t win enough, you may end up paying the other side’s fees and costs. The discussion of exactly how this happens is a large part of the in-person meeting with Kenneth.
If you decide not to file suit after discussing these risks, then we settle your case. If you do decide to file suit after discussing these risks, then your case enters the next part of a personal injury case lifecycle: the litigation phase. Kenneth will have you sign an Authorization to File Suit form, which confirms that the meeting happened, that you were presented with all the information and that you would like to move forward with litigation. At the end of the meeting, Kenneth will introduce you to Carly, Hancock Law’s litigation paralegal. Carly is a crucial part of successfully moving the case from this point forward.
Kenneth never pressures a client to make a decision at the end of the risk assessment meeting. It is an important meeting with a lot of information to digest. Most people know their decision before the meeting is over; others need time to think. Keep in mind, though, the axiom “delay favors the defense.” We want to give clients time to consider the risks of filing suit, but we also need to be proactive to ensure we’re keeping the momentum of your case going. Kenneth will follow up with clients a week after the meeting to check in and address any lingering concerns.
Only you can decide if filing suit is right for you and your case. While Kenneth is here to provide guidance and counsel based on his sixteen years of experience as a personal injury attorney in South Florida, deciding to move forward is a very personal decision to make.
Have questions about the risk assessment meeting? Don’t hesitate to reach out. At Hancock Law, we want to empower you with all the knowledge necessary to take the next steps that are right for you.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that the information provided in this blog is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice nor as creating an attorney-client relationship. Every case is different and legal advice cannot be provided by Hancock Law unless/until we meet to discuss the particulars of your case. Whether an attorney-client relationship exists can differ on a case-by-case basis, but at Hancock Law we consider such a relationship to exist only upon a potential client’s request and our agreement to accept that representation.