Have you been injured due to someone else’s negligence? Are you thinking about filing a lawsuit against the responsible party? A good way for you to determine whether or not you should file a lawsuit is to meet with an experienced attorney and explain the situation and your goals. Use the tips below to learn how to prepare for a personal injury consultation before your appointment.
How to Prepare for a Personal Injury Consultation
Schedule Your Consultation Quickly
You should schedule a consultation with an attorney as soon as possible after your accident. If you wait a while, evidence that is important to your case may be lost. Scheduling a consultation quickly can also help negotiations with the insurance company and may prevent you from having to go to court. It can also help prevent you from making errors that could harm your claim.
Gather Your Evidence
After the accident, it’s a good idea to take photographs of the scene, the immediate surroundings, any vehicles involved, the damage, and your injuries. If possible, you should also obtain all of the following:
- Names of any witnesses (along with their contact information)
- Copies of the police reports documenting the case
- Copies of medical bills and medical records related to your injuries
- Photographs of vehicles, injuries, or scars
- Printed emails, letters, and any other correspondence between you and the at-fault party’s insurance company
Collect all of this evidence together so you can bring it with you to your consultation. If you are unsure about whether something is important, go ahead and bring it with you. Don’t throw anything away until your attorney has reviewed it. This includes digital evidence; do not erase emails you receive from the insurance company, the witnesses, or anyone else involved. Instead, save all of these e-mails in a folder in your e-mail account for quick access.
Write Down What Happened ASAP
While your case is being prepared, a written diary can be extremely helpful. Write down what you remember about what happened as soon as possible after your accident. If you don’t write everything down, you risk forgetting important details as time passes. If a friend or family member was with you, ask him or her to write down all the details that he or she can remember about what happened as well. Have these narratives ready to bring with you to your consultation. Providing a wealth of documentation that supports your claim can help convince an insurance company that it’s important to offer a fair settlement.
Bring a Prepared List of Questions
When you meet with a personal injury lawyer, you should view the consultation like an interview. The attorney will be evaluating your potential claim, and you will be assessing the attorney. To make certain that the lawyer is the right advocate for you, bring a list of questions with you. For example, you might consider asking the following:
- Do you have experience with cases like this?
- Do you focus primarily on personal injury law?
- Do you have actual jury trial experience (even if you would prefer not to go to trial)
- What is your track record like?
- Will you handle the case personally or will you assign it to a junior lawyer?
- What is your fee structure?
- How long have you been licensed to practice law?
During the consultation, pay attention to the attorney’s demeanor. Do you feel like the attorney is listening to you? Does the attorney seem interested in your case, or are they simply trying to get a signature? Is your conversation pleasant? Does the attorney seem knowledgeable and trustworthy? Remember that you’ll be investing your time, money, and the outcome of your case in this person, so you want to find someone with whom you feel comfortable working.