If you’re meeting with a personal injury attorney for the first time, you might not know exactly what to expect. Fortunately, there’s no reason why this experience can’t be pleasant, informative, and empowering. Experienced personal injury attorneys have excellent “people skills” and will do their utmost to make you feel welcome, comfortable, and appreciated.
Still, there are things that you should know before you sit down with your personal injury attorney for the first time. Here are five that we believe are important:
A personal injury attorney should never charge you for a first meeting
Ethical personal injury attorneys never charge to meet with prospective clients in an initial consultative meeting. Any money earned by the attorney will be deducted from the award you receive via a court proceeding or settlement. Most attorneys will state this fact when you first walk in the door; if he/she doesn’t mention it, ask whether you will be charged, and if the answer is anything but “no,” feel free to leave.
The better prepared you are, the more you’ll get out of the meeting
Before you sit down with a personal injury attorney, gather all the important documents related to your injury in a single file folder that you can bring to the meeting. Being as organized as possible will be a great help for a personal injury attorney.
Such documents typically include:
- Any police reports related to the incident that caused your injury
- Any bills for medical treatment, physical therapy, or other therapies you needed because of your injury
- Medical documents describing any past treatment of your injuries or future recommended treatment
- Hospital records (if you were hospitalized) showing when you were admitted and released from the hospital
- Insurance information
- Documentation of any work lost because of your injury
- Additional documentation (for example, photographs, video recordings, or notes) relating to the incident that caused your injury
Having these documents available will help your personal injury attorney make an initial determination about the type of case you have and the award you may be entitled to.
Your attorney will ask a lot of questions; always be truthful with your answers
At your first meeting, your attorney will work to learn as much as possible about what happened to you. He/she will likely ask you about where the accident happened, when it happened, whether you were working when it occurred, they type of insurance you had at the time of the accident, whether you’ve lost work because of it, and whether you’re in pain at present, as well as other questions he/she feels are germane to your situation. Always answer these questions truthfully – they will help your attorney weigh the strength of your case.
Just as you are free to decline the services of any personal injury attorney you meet with, a personal attorney isn’t obliged to take your case. If he/she declines, please don’t take it personally; there are many possible reasons for an attorney to decline, for example, the specifics of your injury may fall outside the scope of the attorney’s area of practice.
You should be ready to ask your attorney some questions as well
Your personal injury attorney will, at some point in the meeting, likely ask you whether you have questions for him/her. As we wrote in our blog article, What to Look for in a Personal Injury Lawyer, it’s very important to know whether the attorney:
- Has significant trial experience. Even if there is no trial (the majority of personal injury cases are settled), having an attorney with trial experience gives your side credibility in any settlement negotiations that might be in the offing.
- Has experience in cases involving the specific type of injury you’ve suffered.
- Will personally handle the case, and, if not, who at the firm will handle it.
After the meeting, reflect on what your experience was like
After your first meeting concludes, take stock of the experience and ask yourself a few questions, for example, were you made to feel comfortable and welcome? Did your conversation result in confusion or clarity? Did the attorney take the time to explain things to you in regular English, not legalese? Are you confident that a judge or a jury will be impressed by the attorney’s demeanor and manner of speech? The answers to these questions can help you determine whether you and your lawyer will make a good team in the weeks and months ahead.
If you’ve been injured and wish to speak with one of Greenberg Law P.C.’s attorneys, we’d be glad to have .