How to Prepare for Your First Meeting with a Personal Injury Lawyer
Being injured in a car accident, slip, trip and fall, or any other situation that involves serious personal injuries can be disorienting, not only in the moment, but also in the days, weeks, and months that follow. And if you’ve decided to file a lawsuit because of these injuries, organization is critical.
When you have your first meeting to discuss your case with a personal injury lawyer, it’s important that you have as much information gathered as possible. This helps your lawyer better understand all the circumstances of your case, so you can quickly and more effectively come up with a strategy together. It’s a good idea to bring everything you have to the meeting, preferably organized by date, in a folder, envelope or box.
To get you started, here’s a list of some of the documents and other information pertinent to your case that you should have on hand.
Your personal information
The first thing your lawyer needs to know about is you. To that end, bring along some proper photo identification. A driver’s license and your social insurance card may be enough. You’ll need to provide your date of birth and your full contact details, including home address, email and all phone numbers.
If applicable, you should also have information about your spouse and/or children, including their full names, dates of birth, and addresses if you live apart.
Also bring in details about your employment history, both current and past. Include full particulars about any stream of income you might have and how it’s been compromised by the accident.
Your potential new lawyer will also want to know about any current and ongoing health issues, including surgeries, hospitalizations, even allergies. This will help paint a picture of your health status right before your injury.
Next, gather all the information you can about the car accident itself.
What was the date? What time? Where did it happen? In your opinion, who was responsible for the accident? What’s their name and address? Who else was involved, and what’s their contact information? What did the police determine as the cause of the accident? Were there any witnesses? How would your lawyer get in touch with them? Is it possible for you to get copies of witness statements and an accident report from the police? If the police will not provide you with a copy of the accident report, ask for the incident number from them.
Your lawyer will want to know about any documents or information that changed hands between you, the other driver, and the police. What did you tell the police on-scene? How about afterward? Did you give any information to anyone else at the accident scene or afterward? Were there any charges, tickets or fines as a result of the accident, whether issued to you or another person? It’s all relevant.
If you can, create a timeline of the accident and all related events that followed from it. Include anything related to the police investigation, insurance-related, or relevant to your medical condition, including any dates you were unable to work.
Prepare a list of anyone you may have spoken to about the accident, from the police on-scene, a trusted family member, or the cashier at the convenience store. Next, make a list of the impact this has had on your job, including all missed days as a result of the accident. This should include any vacation days or sick leave you used up as well.
If possible, bring in photographs of the accident scene as well as any damage sustained at the time whether it’s to your car, your clothing, or your property.
Insurance companies are major players in any accident claim. As such, your lawyer needs to see everything you have that’s insurance related.
Bring in your complete automobile insurance policy so your lawyer knows what coverage you have and what the policy limits are. Also bring in other relevant insurance policies, including health coverage and homeowner’s or renter’s insurance—which may cover personal property that was in your car and damaged in the accident. Also bring in any other insurance policies you might have, including medical and disability policies.
Have a list of the names and contact information for any insurance agent, adjuster or any other representative from your insurance company that you’ve spoken to, as well as any other insurance rep you’ve spoken to, especially those representing other parties. Save all correspondence from any insurance company that pertains to the accident, and if you send them anything in return, keep a copy of it. Be sure to keep a record of any statements you’ve given to any insurance company, either verbally or in writing.
Also bring in any record of extended health care insurance, whether personal or through your employer, that you’ve used because of the accident, including both short- and long-term disability.
To file a personal injury lawsuit, your lawyer will need to know everything about your medical condition before and after the accident in order to demonstrate how the accident has changed your quality of life. They’ll also need to know all they can about your post-accident medical care, including specific health care providers, institutions involved, and the reason for every visit. You should also provide a list of all scheduled future treatments you already know about.
Your lawyer also needs to know the specifics of how the accident has affected your job and your daily life, including home life and any recreational activities.
Did you need an ambulance at the accident? Did the ambulance provide medical treatment at the scene? Did they transport you somewhere else? Also, provide the details of the emergency room they took you to, and whether or not you were admitted to the hospital after.
Prepare a list of all the medical professionals who’ve examined you either in the ER or since then, including the names and addresses of any doctor or chiropractor you’ve seen or will be seeing in the future. Also, make a list of anyone else you’ve discussed your injuries with.
Bring in all your medical bills and any invoices or receipts for all injury-related purchases you’ve had to make. And be ready to provide any photos you have of your injuries—properly dated if possible.
Questions to ask your personal injury lawyer
Gathering all the information above will greatly help your lawyer understand your case and get to know you. But what about you getting to know your lawyer? You’re about to embark on a long and possibly arduous journey together. You owe it to yourself to make sure you’re doing it in good company – and you have every right to ask them as many questions as they’ve asked you. To that end, here are some of the things you should ask your personal injury lawyer.
- How much experience do they have?
- How much of their practice is dedicated to personal injury law, especially in the area of expertise that you require?
- Will the person you’re talking to handle your case personally?
- If someone else is going to handle the case, ask to meet them while you’re there.
- Do they foresee any problems with your case?
- When will they be able to share what their plan will be?
- How long do they think the case will take?
- Will they be bringing in any experts to help prove your case?
- Are there any time limits you should be aware of?
- What about charges for their services? How much will it be? Is it a fixed rate, hourly charge, or a contingency fee (% of the win)?
The importance of getting all your ducks in a row
Dealing with the aftermath of an accident can be overwhelming but following the recommendations above will help you and your lawyer get started on the right foot together.
As hard as it might be to believe, this is anything but an exhaustive list, and the process of building a case will soon become an ever-evolving progression of discovery and disclosure, especially as relations with insurers, health care providers, and other interested parties develop.
The most important thing for you to remember, is to be as open and honest with your personal injury lawyer as possible. Full disclosure of any and all information and documentation, even if you think it’s irrelevant, can turn out to be vital to your case. So be sure to tell your lawyer everything – even if it’s something you consider to be private, or something you find embarrassing to talk about.
Tell your personal injury lawyer everything and let them decide if it’s relevant.
Mackesy Smye can help
If you or a loved one has been injured in any personal injury, including automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and falls, or other personal injury, gather your documents together and contact the dedicated team at Mackesy Smye. We’ll review everything with you and answer any questions you have to help you build the best case possible.
With decades of experience, our team of personal injury experts are here to help.