A personal injury can happen to anyone at any time. And when it does, you’ll probably consider hiring an attorney.
Most personal injury lawyers provide a free initial client meeting where you can get to know each other so that the lawyer can decide whether or not you have a case and you can decide whether or not he or she is the one you want to retain. Here are five things you can do to get the most out of the initial consultation:
1. Do Your Homework
When selecting an attorney, you don’t want to open up the phone book and call the first number you see. A better strategy is to ask family and friends for recommendations, and run an online search using keywords that describe your situation, such as “car accident,” “automobile collision,” and “personal injury.” See what comes up, and then start reviewing the sites by reading the attorney profiles, practice area descriptions, and blog posts. After you’ve done your research and found a few possibilities, contact them online or by phone and then set up the appointment.
2. Bring Documentation
The more information you can provide at the initial meeting with an attorney, the better. Contact your local law enforcement agency and request a copy of the official accident report so you can bring it with you to the meeting.
If you took any photos at the scene of the accident, bring those as well, and if you didn’t, go back and take some detailed photos of the exact location, paying special attention to any road signs, obstructions, and road conditions present. If you know of anyone who witnessed the accident, bring their contact information with you as well — if you don’t have this information, sometimes you can find it listed on the accident report.
Many victims of personal injury are unable to return to work immediately because of their injuries, and some have long-term or even permanent wage loss claims. If you lost wages or the ability to work because of accident-related injuries, you need to explain this to your attorney, and bring the pay stubs and employment records to the meeting to prove it.
3. Gather Your Medical Records
Your personal injury attorney needs to know the names and addresses of all your medical providers, and details about all the accident related treatment you’ve received. You’ll need to bring copies of:
- Ambulance report, if applicable
- Medical records
- Medical bills
- Lab and test results
- Hospital records
- List of prescription medications
4. Provide Insurance Information
To be able to make an accurate analysis of your case, your attorney is going to need to know as much as possible about your insurance, as well as the liability coverage of the individual responsible for your damages. Some of the insurance information that will be helpful includes:
- The name and address of your insurance company
- Contact information for the liability insurance company, if you have it
- The name and contact information for your insurance agent and adjuster
- A copy of your policy’s declarations page, which lists the type of coverage you have, including limitations and exclusions
5. Explain How the Accident Has Affected Your Life
Some of the most serious and long-enduring damages suffered in a personal injury are often those that cannot be measured economically. These non-economic damages are commonly known as pain and suffering.
A listing of how the injury has affected your family and relationships, as well as your quality of life, will be extremely valuable to your attorney when he or she begins to put a value on your case and all the damages that you deserve to be compensated for. Do the best you can to give your attorney an accurate picture of your case from the very beginning.
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