Preparing to Meet with a Car Accident Injury Lawyer
Tips to get you ready to sit down with a lawyer and discuss your claim.
If you were injured in a car accident and are planning to meet with a personal injury lawyer, you want to be prepared so that you can make the best use of your time -- and the lawyer's time, although keep in mind that the first meeting shouldn't cost you anything, so the lawyer's time is not your money.
The important things that you can do to prepare for your first meeting are:
- gather the relevant documents and make a list of important information
- review the facts of the accident
- make a list of questions to ask the lawyer
- decide what you are looking for in a personal injury lawyer
Let's take a closer look at each of these steps.
Gather Relevant Documents and List Important Information
The relevant documents and information in a car accident case include the following:
- any photographs that you may have taken of the accident scene and the vehicles involved (for digital pictures, you should already just bring your camera and let your lawyer plug it into his/her computer or bring the pictures on a flash drive or memory stick)
- copies of any police reports that you have received
- any tickets that you may have received for the incident in question
- the names and contact information of any witnesses to your accident
- the name, contact information, policy number, claim number, and adjuster for your automobile insurer
- the name and address of the other driver or drivers involved in your accident
- the names and addresses of your health care providers
- the name, contact information, and policy number for your health insurer
- any correspondence that you may have had with any insurers involved in your claim
- any medical records or notes from your health care providers that you may have received
- any medical bills that you have received for your treatment
- any proof of your lost earnings
You should definitely bring these documents to your meeting if you have them. Your lawyer can certainly get all of this information in his/her investigation, but bringing these documents to your lawyer up front, if you have them, saves your lawyer time and keeps him/her from having to reinvent the wheel and get documents and information that may already be in your possession.
Review the Facts of the Accident
Any lawyer that you meet with will ask you numerous questions about your claim. He/she will ask you detailed questions about how the accident happened and will ask about your injury, pain and suffering, medical history, medical treatment, work history, educational background, and lost earnings, among other things. If your accident was anything more complicated than a simple rear end collision, you should review in your own mind exactly how the accident happened so that you can be prepared to answer all of the lawyer’s questions about what happened.
Make a List of Questions to Ask the Lawyer
There will undoubtedly be things that you want to know from the lawyer. You should write your questions down to make sure to ask them all. Things you might want to know from a prospective lawyer can include the following:
- how experienced is the lawyer in car accident cases
- how many trials has the lawyer had in car accident cases
- what information and documents will the lawyer need before he/she is prepared to make a settlement demand
- how long will it take before the lawyer will be prepared to make a settlement demand
- what are the chances of settling the case
- will the lawyer be prepared to file a lawsuit in the case if he/she can’t get a reasonable settlement offer
- what are the strengths and weaknesses of the case
Keep in mind that there are some things that a lawyer won’t be able to tell you at that first meeting. He/she may not be able to tell you what the weaknesses in your case are, for example. The lawyer may not know that until he/she looks at all of the documentation.
A Good Lawyer Will Not Tell You How Much Your Case is Worth at the First Meeting
This is very important. A good lawyer will not know how much a car accident case is worth until he/she looks at all of the information and data in the case. The insurance adjusters refuse to talk money until they have all of the information; it is no different for plaintiff’s lawyers. Be wary of any lawyer who would tell you on the phone or at the first meeting how much your case is worth.
Decide What You are Looking For in a Personal Injury Lawyer
What are you looking for in a lawyer? Do you think that you’re going to need someone who is going to tell what is going on every step of the way? Or do you think that you’ll be satisfied to leave it all to the lawyer and just let him/her pursue your case and tell you when there’s an offer? All lawyers are different. Some great lawyers do not have particularly good social skills. And of course some great communicators are just average lawyers. You have to decide what is more important to you.