What should I bring when meeting with my lawyer? You may already feel overwhelmed after your accident, and feeling unprepared to meet with an attorney. While every case is unique, the following 5 tips will make for a successful first meeting with a personal injury attorney.
Bring all relevant documents.
Come prepared with any and all documents pertaining to your accident. Copies of documents that may be relevant to your case may include items such as the crash report, photos, your insurance policy information, email or written correspondence from the other party or their insurance company, medical bills, and medical records. Creating a medical chronology that summarizes your medical treatment can be extremely helpful to your attorney, especially if your case involves extensive treatment from multiple medical providers over a long period of time.
Other documents that may be relevant to your case include paystubs, proof of wage loss, and tax documents, but your attorney will usually tell you what items are needed for the initial consultation. You should also bring copies of your photo ID which your attorney will require to verify your identity.
Try to provide as many of the above items as possible during your initial meeting with your lawyer. If you have time, consider organizing everything together into a folder or file. This will save your lawyer a great deal of time and help expedite the information-gathering process.
Write down questions, concerns, and the details of your case prior to meeting with your attorney.
Prepare a short statement summarizing your accident or injury claim. Include information such as dates and times, street names or details about the accident location, and contact information for any witnesses. Your attorney will need as many details as you are able to provide. It’s best to start collecting this information from the very beginning that way you don’t forget anything. You should also come prepared with any questions you might have regarding your case. The attorney will be happy to answer them.
Be prepared for some paperwork.
I know, I know, no one likes to fill out paperwork, but once it’s done, the rest is in the hands of your attorney. When a personal injury attorney decides to take on your case (or even before taking on the case), one of the most important things that will happen is the collection of medical records pertaining to your injury. You will be asked to sign releases allowing your medical providers to send records to your attorney for review as they relate to your case. Although most attorneys will fill out as much of the paperwork as they can on your behalf, there is a lot of information that only you can provide. This type of information about your background and medical history will be necessary for the lawyer to conduct a thorough investigation into your case and have a better understanding of the issues in your case.
Answer any and all questions fully and truthfully.
Your lawyer is trying to get all of the necessary information surrounding your accident. It is in your best interest to answer fully and honestly. This will help to determine if you have a case worth pursuing and what sort of outcome you might expect. Some questions might include:
- The details of your accident
- The details of any medical treatment you’ve received
- Any activities and daily tasks you’ve been unable to partake in since the injury
- Expected recovery time
- Whether or not a full recovery is possible
- How your injury has impacted both your personal and professional life
- Pain level
- Your medical bills and costs to date
- Your medical history and pre-existing conditions, if any
Keeping a journal during this time can be beneficial. Journaling about your injuries and treatments can come in handy. The information you provide will help your attorney understand the impact the accident has had on your life, which can be shared with the opposing party and potentially increase the value of your claim.
And most importantly, remember the most important rule is to always tell the truth. No matter how personal or embarrassing, don’t hold back any details.
Your case will move along more smoothly if your attorney has all the necessary and accurate information. And keep in mind your attorney has a duty of confidentiality so anything you discuss remains between you and your attorney. It obligates the lawyer to keep private nearly everything relating to your case — even information not obtained from you directly.
A separate but related concept is privilege. The attorney-client privilege preserves the secrecy of communications between lawyers and clients. As with the duty of confidentiality, the purpose behind the privilege is to encourage candor and truth. Notably, the privilege stays in effect after the end of the attorney-client relationship and even survives death.
Listen to your attorney
After you’ve provided your attorney with a comprehensive breakdown of your injuries and expenses, your attorney may be able to give you his or her preliminary opinion on your case while at your first meeting. [More than likely, he or she will need to gather and review more information].
While meeting with the attorney you may learn that your case might be won in court or best settled outside of court. Your medical expenses, loss of work, day-to-day limitations, and the level of fault of the other person are some of the parameters that will help to determine the appropriate amount of money to seek. For auto accident cases, there are several factors that can affect the value of your claim that you should discuss with your attorney.