After a car accident, once you’ve made the decision to hire an attorney, you’re probably wondering what the first visit will entail. There are two main reasons for this meeting. The first is for the attorney to assess your case. The second is for you to make sure you're comfortable having this person represent you.
Even if an initial consultation has taken place online or over the telephone, the attorney will not have a full picture of the facts and circumstances surrounding your car accident case until the two of you can sit down and talk.
The first step will involve you explaining the facts of the accident, and the damages you’ve sustained. This conversation will probably be with the attorney, and/or one of the attorney’s representatives, such as a legal secretary or paralegal.
After you've provided your story, you'll answer follow-up questions, such as:
You'll also need to provide any documents you have relating to the accident, such as medical bills, car repair estimates/invoices, photographs, police reports, e-mails and letters from insurance companies (and copies of any insurance claims you’ve filed related to the accident).
Don’t hold back any relevant information about the accident, even if you’re worried that it’s embarrassing or will hurt your case. Even if you haven't hired the attorney, your first meeting is protected by attorney client privilege. Not to mention that if you withhold information that hurts your case, it will come back to haunt you.
For instance, your attorney may agree to represent you based on the information you’ve provided, but if that information is incomplete, sooner or later the truth will come out, possibly after you and your attorney have spent hundreds of hours preparing the case (and thousands of dollars on expert witnesses and court costs).
If the attorney declines to take your case, that doesn’t mean it's a weak one. Attorneys turn down cases for a variety of reasons, including:
If the attorney agrees to represent you, ask about potential outcomes. But keep in mind that the attorney won’t be able to accurately predict your chances of success and what type of damages award you can expect. There are so many variables and unknowns, including the overall unpredictability of personal injury lawsuits in general.
Whether the attorney represents you is your decision as much as it is the attorney’s. You need to find an attorney you feel comfortable with, and who you can trust. You also want to ensure your attorney will effectively and capably represent your legal interests.
Here are a few questions to consider:
If you decide to hire an attorney, you will need to sign a fee agreement, representation agreement, or some other document formally establishing the attorney as your legal representative. You may also need to sign other documents, such as medical releases, which will allow your attorney to access your treatment records on your behalf.
Learn more about how an attorney can help with a car accident case.