How to plan for your first sit-down meeting with a personal injury lawyer
Let’s first acknowledge that meeting with a lawyer is probably not on your bucket list. But when you or a family member gets hurt or injured, it is necessary to reach out to an attorney for an appointment to discuss your legal rights. Just scheduling a meeting can sometime feel like a big step. Getting the jitters about meeting with an attorney is understandable, especially for anyone with limited exposure to the legal system. But you can relax because the lawyer you are meeting with does this for a living and will do everything possible to make you feel comfortable and confident with them.
Rest assured that the confidential first meeting will in no way be your worst nightmare (if you choose the right attorney). In fact, it actually tends to be a straightforward, stress-free, information-sharing session in which the lawyer gets to know you and vice versa. Making a determination as to whether you two can work together is one of the goals of the initial meeting.
Your time is valuable, however, as is the time of the person on the other side of the desk. That’s why it is beneficial to do some initial prep work to get the most out of the important sit-down meeting. Going into the meeting with your ducks in a row makes the discussion that much more businesslike and efficient.
Conversation is mostly non-linear. It can go off on tangents, especially when emotions run high. That’s why it is advisable to write a chronological narrative or summary of your side of the story. Bring the printout to the appointment. Accuracy and honesty are key. You might also use the voice memo app in your smart phone to keep your memory fresh about the timeline of events.
In addition to all the details, you need to identify the specific legal resolution or outcome that you seek.
Moreover, a clear-eyed rendition of what happened enables the lawyer to understand the situation in its fullest dimensions. Everything you say to the attorney will be confidential. He or she can then advise you and identify a strategy accordingly. Remember to disclose the facts, even unfavorable ones, so that your lawyer doesn’t have to engage in any unnecessary investigation to find out what really happened.
If the firm sent you a pre-meeting questionnaire, be sure to fill it out and bring it with you or return it to the office in advance.
Collectively, this information should enable the attorney to determine if he or she can effectively represent you.
As the consultation discussion unfolds, the lawyer will undoubtedly pose questions that bring the case into sharper focus. Keep in mind, though, that this is a two-way street. As an informed consumer, think about and write down questions for your potential attorney before you leave home. You are also advised to take notes during the meeting for follow-up questions. This can include fees, the strengths and weaknesses of your case, your options under the specific fact pattern, and the attorney’s experience in handling your type of legal problem.
Remember to ask whether the lawyer has the skillset to take a case all the way to trial if necessary or whether he or she is just a deal-maker who is intent on obtaining an out-of-court settlement.
You may also want to know if he or she will personally handle your case or if it will be offloaded to a more junior attorney or paralegal. Take that opportunity to inquire how the firm intends to keep open the lines of communication while your case is pending.
Perhaps the most important item to bring to the meeting is an open mind, receptive to both the possibilities and the limitations of your legal situation. A thorough back and forth goes a long way to helping you decide whether you are comfortable enough to officially hire the firm to take your case.
People consult lawyers for all kind of reasons. Let’s assume here that you have suffered harm in a car accident. Before you head into that first meeting with a personal injury lawyer, the kind of material that you should compile includes the following:
Complete contact information (names, physical addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses) for you, the other driver or drivers, your employer, and any witnesses or other relevant party
The police report
Insurance coverage info (yours and the other motorists)
Court documents that you may have received
Correspondence received from insurers, if any
Photos of your injuries or damage to your vehicle and any other involved vehicles
Medical bills, reports, and contact information for all healthcare providers
Other out-of-pocket expense receipts
A payroll stub or tax return that establishes how much you earn (and how much income you have lost or could lose because of the injury)
Pertinent contracts, text messages, emails, or social media activity (this generally applies to any legal issue or dispute)
In confirming the meeting, the law firm is likely let you know what additional kinds of paperwork to bring to the office.
Equipped with this data, an attorney can make the decision as to whether you two are a good fit and then develop a specific strategy for your case. It is then up to you whether you want to move forward. Remember to keep copies of all your documents.
If you or a loved one has been hurt in a motor vehicle accident, on commercial property, by a defective product, or as a result of malpractice by a healthcare professional, contact Schneider Injury Law in Atlanta. To make an appointment for a free consultation with an experienced, tough advocate and compassionate counselor, call Bethany Schneider at 404-800-3060 or contact her via email at email@example.com.