Preparing to Meet with a Personal Injury Attorney
Meeting with an attorney to discuss a serious and painful injury sustained in an accident is not likely to be an easy conversation. Accident victims are understandably upset about what occurred, and may worry those responsible will escape liability for the harm they caused. Further, the law is generally viewed as a confusing and overwhelming area that can create anxiety in advance of a consultation with a personal injury attorney. However, these attorneys want to help accident victims, and strive to do what is possible to recover compensation for suffering, lost wages and medical bills. To make the initial consultation with a personal injury as efficient, productive and informative as possible, accident victims should walk into the meeting having gathered and prepared relevant information to orient the discussion, and provide the first pieces of support the attorney will need to be successful. Preparing information in advance also has the added benefit of allowing plaintiffs to organize their thoughts and concerns so they do not enter the meeting with little to say. An outline of how accident victims should prepare for the initial consultation with a personal injury attorney will follow below.
In order to prove a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit should be liable for injuries to the plaintiff, evidence must be produced demonstrating he/she was negligent. This analysis is a legal determination that should be left to an experienced personal injury attorney, but the factual information a victim provides are the building blocks the attorney needs to start constructing a case. In addition, this information will allow the attorney to assess the merits of the case, so the appropriate legal options may be presented. The following are examples of material that should be prepared:
- A list of questions. The initial consultation is used in large part to see if the attorney and the potential plaintiff will be a good fit. Asking questions about the attorney’s experience, opinion about the strength of the case, and how communication will take place are important points to help make this decision.
- Copies of all medical bills, including follow-ups and rehabilitation. Medical expenses are key component of damages in personal injury cases, and will impact the strength of a particular claim.
- Photos and other documentation of the accident scene, including accident and police reports, and contact information for the other individuals involved.
- A timeline of the circumstances surrounding the injury. This should be written as soon after the accident as possible, since memories fade, and initial impressions often contain key information about which party is at fault.
- Correspondence from the other side, including insurance companies, if available. Learning who the victim spoke with and the potential position of the other side helps the attorney determine who to potentially sue.
What to Expect
As mentioned above, the primary purposes of the initial consultation are to see if attorney and victim can work together productively, and to evaluate the potential plaintiff’s case. To those ends, the attorney will ask the injured victim to describe the accident, and the type and extent of medical care the person received to deal with the harm experienced. Note that even if an attorney/client relationship is not formed, the attorney is not permitted to discuss a victim’s claims with anyone else, so any tendencies to withhold information or details due to this concern should be put aside. The more information a potential plaintiff can provide, the more accurately the attorney can evaluate how to proceed. Ultimately, this meeting is an interview, and should be viewed as a fact-finding opportunity on the merits of taking legal action.
Consult a Florida Personal Injury Attorney
Dealing with significant, and possibly life-altering, injuries from an accident is an unfair and overwhelming experience that may require legal action to fairly resolve. The Miami law firm of Pita Weber & Del Prado understands the devastation an injury can cause, and will use the time and resources necessary to give you the best possible chance of receiving just compensation. Contact us for a free consultation.