If you’ve been injured in an accident, you probably have lots of questions and many important decisions to make. Unless it was a very minor scrape, one of those decisions should be selecting a personal injury lawyer who will play a key role in getting the settlement you deserve. An attorney experienced with personal injury cases can not only provide invaluable advice but will understand how to determine the value to negotiate a fair settlement.
There’s no risk in talking to a personal injury lawyer as consultations are almost always free and they’ll only get paid when the case reaches a favorable solution for you. As only a small percentage of personal injury cases ever go to trial according to the American Bar Association, partly because when the insurance company knows you have an attorney, they’re more likely to make a reasonable settlement offer.
Once you’ve made that appointment, here’s what you can expect during the consultation.
One of the first things you’ll need to do after personal introductions is to explain what happened to cause your injury, such as when and where it occurred, the type of injuries you sustained, and any medical treatment you’ve received to date. If it happened over a period of time, describe what happened from the beginning and how it’s played out since in as much detail as possible.
The more evidence you have the better as it’s necessary in order to prove someone else caused your injury and that you sustained financial losses (damages) as a result. Bring all documentation of the accident. That includes any photos of your injuries, damage to your vehicle, and the overall accident scene as well as copies of police reports, medical records, and any other relevant documents such as bills and prescriptions for medications. If you have names and contact information for witnesses, bring those too.
You’ll also need verification of your income such as W-2s or pay stubs so the lawyer can calculate any lost wages, a copy of your insurance policy, and any communication from your insurance company that you’ve already received. While the attorney may not review everything immediately, he or she will be able to give it a glance for a sense of the strengths, weaknesses, and scope of the case.
As some people make frivolous claims, a personal injury lawyer is probably going to ask some tough questions to be sure yours is legitimate. While it may be frustrating, it’s best to be prepared to answer them. It might mean talking about your personal life, including your sex life, your job, and your personal finances. This will also ensure you’re ready for any tough questions that the insurance company’s team of attorneys will ask.
You’ll want to have a list of your own questions prepared so that you can determine if the lawyer is a good fit. For example, has he or she handled similar cases in the past? What has their track record of settlements and verdicts been? What are their fees? How is communication handled, will you be speaking with the lawyer regularly, or to an assistant? Those are just a few questions to consider asking – be sure to inquire about anything that might be important to you.