A personal injury attorney explains how to get the most out of an initial meeting

If you’ve been seriously injured in a car accident or other major accident caused by someone else, it makes sense to take advantage of the free consultation offered by most personal injury attorneys.

Find out what you need for an initial consultation

When you call to book the appointment, find out who you will be meeting with. Will you meet a lawyer? A paralegal? How long will the meeting last? Initial consultations in our office last between 1 and 2 hours. You will want to make sure you have enough time so that you are not in a rush and so that the attorney can take a proper history.

Find out what you need to bring to the meeting at the attorney’s office. The more information you have ready for the attorney, the better and more specific the advice you will receive at the initial consultation. We ask our clients to bring the police report with them; any medical history they have; the names and contact information of witnesses; any picture; any correspondence to or from any insurance company.

Be ready to tell your story

At the meeting, you should be prepared to tell the attorney how the accident happened. Make sure you have checked the street names and other details to the best of your ability, so that the attorney can understand the accident very clearly. A clear understanding of how the accident happened is required before the attorney can understand how strong your case is on liability. (Liability means who is responsible for the accident).

The attorney will want to know your lifestyle prior to the accident

If you can, you should be able to explain your pre-accident history to the attorney. Ideally, you will bring a resume or employment history to the attorney. You should also be able to describe your pre-accident medical history, including any pre-existing conditions. Most pre-existing conditions do not harm a car accident case unless they are not disclosed.

Ask for the rates

Most attorneys will explain the proposed fee structure to you at the initial meeting, although some attorneys may not discuss fees or an advance unless the potential client requests the information. If you are considering hiring an attorney, it is a good idea to ask questions about the advance in the initial consultation so there are no surprises later.

Don’t be pressured to sign

However, you shouldn’t feel pressured at all to “sign up” for the initial meeting. Even if you are presented with an advance contract at the meeting, you should feel comfortable taking it with you and reading it at home before committing. For many people, this will be one of the most important contracts they will ever sign. It is very important to consider it carefully.

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