Personal injury (PI) law is one of the most diverse yet competitive areas of legal practice. As an attorney, you want to stand out from your competitors and provide a valuable service, while concurrently growing your business and profit margin. An important aspect of your personal injury legal practice is client attraction and retention. Your strongest tool for locating clients and growing your business is to start with a well-informed client intake in which you are open to the possibility of clients with many different situations and legal needs.
If you are serious about perfecting your client intake process, whether from a qualified lead, a walk-in, or a billboard advertisement, the following article will provide you with key information about how to conduct a personal injury client intake to help you discover additional PI issues that might be available to you as a practitioner. Since one legal principle that binds most of these types of cases together is the law of negligence, if you feel confident that you understand the laws of negligence in your state, you may be able to apply those principles to taking on clients in areas of law you hadn’t initially considered.
Importance of the First Client Contact
The initial contact with a potential client is perhaps the most crucial as it will not only set the tone for client relationship, but it will also reveal a basic amount of information which can assist you in deciding how to proceed. You (or your legal support staff) will want to find out a number of important details such as:
- Nature of the case
- Types of injuries involved
- Date of incident
- What necessary documents are in the client’s possession?
Next, you’ll want to set up an in-person consultation at your office or some other mutually agreed-upon space where you will introduce yourself, get to know the client, and discuss your fee structure. The most important parts of this exercise are to be a good listener and really hear the client out. What are their losses? What are their out-of-pocket expenses? Is there a deadline like a statute of limitations that would require them to file their claim immediately? Establishing all of this ahead of time will set the tone of your future attorney-client relationship.
Think Outside the Personal Injury Box
It might be easy to hone in on one particular type of client: one whose case is likely winnable and who may want to go to trial. At the outset, a routine car accident case with mounting evidence in your favor is typically the safest route for new attorneys or those with limited experience. But if you really want to open up your practice and learn more, which in turn will give you a dynamic client base and practice area, consider taking clients from other factions of the PI world. A few examples of that include:
- Medical malpractice
- Workers’ compensation, particularly if state workers’ comp laws may not initially cover the employee’s injuries
- Slip and fall accidents
- Dog bites and animal attacks
- Defamation, libel, and slander
- Nursing home abuse cases
- Travel and common carrier accidents (such on an airplane or tour bus)
- Product liability (whether interacting with a government agency or product or manufacturer)
Areas Where You Can Assist a Client Outside of Trial
Civil jury trials aren’t the only areas of opportunity for a PI attorney. There are plenty of lucrative parts of a civil case that may require the assistance of a skilled attorney, which your client may not even be aware of. Here is a list of areas where you might be able to help:
- Performing investigations with a team of experienced private investigators to uncover new evidence
- Counseling the client to bring a counterclaim and helping to file the paperwork
- Filing discovery requests and interrogatories and helping respond to them
- Filing a Motion for Summary Judgment (MSJ) where appropriate
- Having your client get an independent medical review for injuries, particularly if a workers’ compensation matter
- Engaging in settlement negotiations.
- Helping to collect on a judgment after the case goes to trial or reaches a settlement
- Assisting in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
Need More Personal Injury Leads? Try FindLaw Lead Generation Services
Your personal injury practice will take time to nourish and grow. A good reputation, a solid intake strategy, and former client referrals are one way to allow your business to thrive, but why not enhance that even further with FindLaw’s Lead Flow, a personal injury law lead generation service. To learn more, reach out to our team today to schedule a consultation.