If you have been seriously injured in a motor vehicle accident or other significant accident that was caused by someone else, it makes sense to take advantage of the free consultation offered by most personal injury lawyers.
Find Out What You Need for an Initial Consultation
When you call to book the appointment, find out who you will be meeting. Will you meet a lawyer? A paralegal? How long will the meeting take? In our office, initial consultations last 1-2 hours. You will want to make sure you have left yourself enough time so that you are not rushed and so the lawyer can take a proper history.
Figure out what you need to bring with you to the meeting at the lawyer’s office. The more information you have ready for the lawyer, the better and more specific the advice you will receive at the initial consultation. We ask our clients to bring with them the police report; any medical records they have; the names and contact info of any witnesses; any photos; any correspondence to or from any insurance company.
Be Prepared to Tell Your Story
At the meeting, you should be prepared to tell the lawyer about how the accident happened. Make sure you have verified street names and other details as well as you can, so that the lawyer can understand the accident very clearly. A clear understanding of how the accident happened is required before the lawyer can understand how strong your case is on the issue of liability. (Liability means who is responsible for the accident.)
The Lawyer will Want to Know Your Pre-Accident Lifestyle
If you can, you should be able to explain your pre-accident history to the lawyer. Ideally, you will bring the lawyer a resume or job history. You should also be able to describe your pre-accident medical history, including any pre-existing conditions. Most pre-existing conditions do not hurt a car accident case unless they are not disclosed.
Ask about Fees
Most lawyers will explain their proposed fee structure to you at the initial meeting, although some lawyers may not talk about fees or a retainer unless the prospective client asks for the information. If you are contemplating hiring a lawyer, it is a good idea to ask questions about the retainer at the initial consultation so that there are no surprises later on.
Don’t be Pressured Into Signing
However, you should not feel pressured, at all, to “sign up” at the initial meeting. Even if you are presented with a retainer agreement at the meeting, you should feel comfortable about taking it away and reading it at home before committing. For many people, this will be among the most important contracts they will sign. It is very important to give it careful consideration.