Initial Consultation with most personal injury attorneys is free. So, optimize this opportunity to make the most of your time. Here’s how:
Call ahead. Make an Appointment
Some attorneys accept “walk in” clients. But, the more experienced attorney you want to see may or may not be there and you may be foisted upon a more junior attorney or legal assistant.
Initial Consultation: Take All Paperwork
If you’ve been to a hospital, take the discharge notes. If you have a prescription or an “out of work” statement from a doctor, take them. Accident reports will cut down on time asking and answering basic questions. If there are errors in the accident report, all the more reason to take it and explain what’s wrong and why.
Whether your photos are on a digital camera or your cell phone, take the device to the attorney’s office. If the device or memory card can’t be plugged in to the attorney’s computer for a download, you may be able to email them.
Take all Insurance Documents You Have
In a car accident case, take your own “coverage selections page”, “declaration sheet” or other document listing the specific coverage that you have if you were in your own vehicle or a family vehicle at the time of the accident.
Be Fully Honest and Complete inYour Accident Description
If you have had a previous injury or if you suffer from a health condition, tell the attorney. Experienced personal injury attorneys anticipate issues and address them so that they do not blow up into problems.
Contingent Fee Agreement.
This document gives the attorney a percentage in the end. In addition, the attorney will pay various costs along the way and will have the right to recover those out-of-pocket payments for expenses at the end of the case in addition to the fee. Ask questions if you have them. However, most contingent fee agreements are wholly or largely based on language specified by our licensing authorities.
It’s likely you will also be asked to sign a medical authorization form, allowing the attorney to get copies of your medical records. It is OK to ask for copies of any documents you sign.
The “How Much Is My Case Worth” Question
No experienced attorney can ballpark your case at this early stage, at initial consultation. Many things can happen. It is possible that ultimate medical documents may point out injuries of a nature not anticipated at this time. There are many variables to case evaluation. I have addressed this in two other blog posts. So, at this early stage, a full fair answer simply isn’t there.
It’s OK to ask the Attorney How Much Experience They Have on Similar Cases
- Have they tried similar cases?
- Do they settle similar cases?
I embrace the opportunity to tell new clients about my experiences. Usually by the time I get done telling a story or two, clients want to politely sign the papers and get out of there. However, when the ink was still wet on my law degree, I simply told new clients of the results that the firm had obtained in such cases, and that I would not have been hired had I not been expected to meet or exceed those expectations.