If you’ve recently been in a car accident or you’ve been the victim of another personal injury, you’ll need to talk to a personal injury lawyer about your options moving forward. But how do you prepare for an initial meeting with this lawyer?
Know Who You’re Working With
After choosing a personal injury lawyer, spend some time researching them. What kind of law does this firm practice? What kind of reviews and testimonials do they have? Is there any documentation online on what you should prepare to bring to your initial consultation?
Were you responsible for filling out a form with information on yourself and your injury before this meeting? Doing this work will help you be prepared for what’s coming next.
Prepare Documentation and Evidence
Before taking on your case, your lawyer is probably going to want to see what documentation and evidence you have to validate your claims of injury and establish what happened during the accident. Consider preparing and bringing documentation like:
- Photos and videos. Were you able to take any photos or videos of the scene of the accident after it unfolded? Are there any security cameras that might have footage of the incident as it unfolded? Did you take photos and videos of your injuries in the immediate aftermath of the incident? These are all going to be valuable.
- A police report. Police reports are designed to serve as official records. If a police report is contradicted by a single eyewitness testimony, the police report is probably going to take precedence. Accordingly, your lawyer is going to want to see the police report on this incident if one exists.
- Repair estimates. Depending on the nature of the incident, you may have repair estimates to bring. For example, if someone crashed into your car, you should take your car to a local repair place and have them give you a formal estimate for the cost of repairs. This will help your lawyer better estimate the compensation you’re owed.
- Medical bills and records. Similarly, you’ll want to bring your medical bills and medical records, demonstrating when and how you sought treatment and how much money you’ve paid for treatment so far. Be sure to bring evidence of any statements your healthcare providers have made about your future; for example, do they think you’re going to need physical therapy for years after this?
- Pay stubs and evidence of missed work. If you had to miss work because of your injuries, make sure you bring evidence of your missed work along with pay stubs to prove how much money you make.
- Eyewitness statements. If you have any eyewitness statements available, you’ll want to bring those as well. Consider contacting anyone who might have seen the incident unfold.
Prepare Your Questions
After you’ve prepared all your documentation and evidence, it’s time to prepare the questions you want to ask your lawyer when you meet them.
These are some of the most common things people ask about:
- Experience and history. Ask about this lawyer’s experience and history. How long have they been in business? Have they taken on cases like this in the past? How much were they able to win?
- Personal contacts. Who, specifically, is going to work with you on this case? Are there other people you’ll be talking to on a regular basis?
- The process and timeline. What kind of process is in store for you? Is there an estimated timeline of events you can establish from the beginning?
- Projected outcomes. How does your lawyer think this case is going to go? Do they see it settling, and if so, how soon and for how much will it settle? Your lawyer may or may not feel comfortable making a projection at this time.
- Fees. Legal fees vary, but most personal injury lawyers offer a similar overall fee structure. For example, if you don’t win compensation, you probably won’t owe anything.
Prepare to Answer Questions
In addition to asking your lawyer questions, your lawyer will probably ask you some questions. You need to be emotionally and mentally prepared for this, as your lawyer will likely ask you about your injuries, about how you felt during the accident, and about how your personal life has changed. It’s important to be as honest and thorough as possible throughout these questions, so your lawyer can help you better.
Bring Someone for Emotional Support
Your lawyer is probably going to be very kind, sympathetic, and reassuring. But talking to a lawyer can also be stressful and difficult, especially if you’re still recovering from the initial accident. Accordingly, consider bringing along someone you trust for emotional support. They can also help you take notes during the meeting.
Meeting with a personal injury lawyer for the first time can be a bit stressful, especially if you’ve never had to talk to a lawyer before. But with adequate preparation, you’ll feel better about the experience and you’ll see better results at the same time.