Once you select a personal injury lawyer to help you with your case, you’ll schedule an initial consultation where you’ll talk to your lawyer about your situation and find out the next steps for pursuing compensation. Just as you would prepare for any meeting, you want to take the time to prepare for this one to ensure you make the most of your time.
How to Prepare for Your First Meeting With a Personal Injury Lawyer
Step 1: Gather Documents
Your lawyer is going to need a variety of documents related to your case so that they can start to assess how much compensation you deserve and how to plan their strategy. The following documents should be obtained and brought to your meeting. If you are unable to get any of these documents, make sure your attorney knows this so they can get them for you. You will need:
- A copy of the police or accident report
- Photographs of the site where the accident occurred
- Photographs of your injuries
- Repair estimate or certificate of total loss (for car accidents)
- Medical records (hospital, doctor, pharmacy, therapist)
- Medical bills (hospital, doctor, pharmacy, therapist)
- Other expenses related to your injuries (transportation, medical equipment, home modifications)
- Pay stubs
- Documentation showing missed workdays (from your employer)
- Documentation showing benefits used related to your injuries (from your employer)
- Tax returns
- Any witness statements you’ve obtained
- Health or automobile insurance information
- Documentation of any communication you’ve had with insurance companies or other parties
Step 2: Generate a List of Questions to Ask
If this is your initial consultation to determine whether you want to hire this attorney or not, you should come to the meeting prepared with any questions you have to help you make your decision. These questions include the following.
- How much experience do you have with personal injury cases?
- How many years have you practiced personal injury law?
- What are some outcomes of cases that are similar to this one?
- Will you be handling the case yourself?
- If not, who will be handling the case?
- Who will assist you with the case?
- How often will you communicate updates about the case?
- What is your fee structure?
- Do you have access to experts who can help the case?
- What is the time frame that you expect to resolve a case such as this?
- What other information do you need to help with the case?
Step 3: Write Down the Details of Your Case
When you get into the meeting, you may forget to bring up details that are relevant to your case that you want your attorney to know. To mitigate this, you should write down the details of your case in your own words. Start by explaining the situation surrounding the injury and what happened from your perspective. Your attorney will keep this information confidential, so be sure to give every bit of information you can. No detail is too small.
If any of your family members or friends were with you when the accident occurred, ask them to provide their written descriptions of the events as well. They might remember something you don’t, or there could be valuable witness details that your attorney can use to help your case. Even if you think a detail is not relevant, you should still provide everything you remember and let your attorney decide if they can use it or not.
Step 4: Make a Copy for Yourself
Whatever documentation you’re giving to your attorney should be copied for your own records, and you don’t want to wait or pay for the attorney to copy them at the office. In fact, you may even want to fax or email a copy of all documentation to the attorney’s office before your meeting so they can familiarize themselves with your case before you arrive for your meeting. This will ensure that both of you have copies of the necessary documents.
If you decide to provide your documents to the attorney before your meeting, you will be able to know if you’re missing anything they need. Once they receive your documents, they can contact you to provide anything you may have missed. As such, this is a major benefit to giving them your information prior to your consultation. It’s not mandatory to do this, but it will make your first meeting more efficient.
Step 5: Consider Bringing Support
Most attorneys have no problem with you bringing a friend or relative with you to the initial consultation for support. They know how important it is for you to feel comfortable during the meeting. Keep in mind, though, that your attorney-client confidentiality does not extend to your friend or relative. They could be summoned to court to testify about what was said in the meeting, so weigh this carefully before deciding to bring someone with you.
Step 6: Prepare Yourself for Questions About the Accident
Even though it might be difficult to relive the accident, you will need to answer questions about the event from your attorney. Your written statement will definitely help get your attorney familiar with your situation, but they will likely have other questions they need to ask so they can determine whether your case is winnable or how much compensation you deserve. Expect to respond to the following questions:
- What are your injuries from the accident?
- What have your doctors said about your injuries?
- What insurance policies do you have?
- Have you had any communication with insurers regarding your case?
- Who is your employer?
- How have the accident and your injuries impacted you and your family?
Step 7: Prepare for Paperwork
Any type of contract is going to require paperwork, and when you hire an attorney, you are entering into a contract with that person and their firm. Know that you will have a lot of paperwork to fill out at your initial meeting, which will cover all aspects of your attorney-client relationship. You will sign a retainer that authorizes the attorney to act on your behalf and a medical release so that your lawyer can obtain your medical records.
There will also probably be various acknowledgments you’ll need to sign, including those for the attorney’s fee structure and the use of electronic communication. Make sure you understand everything you’re asked to sign so that you know what you’re agreeing to. Of course, your attorney will explain each item before you’re asked to sign, but if you have additional questions about any release or acknowledgment, now is the time for you to ask.
Step 8: Pay Attention to Your Intuition
The first meeting will likely tell you whether the attorney is the right one for your case. If all your questions are answered to your satisfaction and you’re happy with the level of involvement that will be required of you during the case, you can probably let any concerns you have rest. You want an attorney who will treat you like a member of their own family so that you know you can trust them.
No one wants to have to go to a meeting with an attorney, but if you’ve been injured, you need to make sure the person responsible is held accountable. The best way to make that happen is to hire a personal injury attorney to protect your interests. Contact Yonke Law, LLC today to schedule your initial consultation with attorneys that truly care about their clients.