Your first meeting with an attorney may seem daunting, but the truth is that you have just taken the first step towards putting your accident behind you. The right personal injury attorney can help you get the payment you need for your medical bills, missed wages, property damage, and other losses so that you can move forward with your life. With a little planning, you can leave the attorney’s office feeling stronger than you have in a long time.
How to Prepare for an Initial Consultation with an Injury Attorney
It can be stressful to meet with a stranger, especially when you aren’t feeling your best. Try to remember that he or she only wants to help you, and that you are in control of the meeting. In a free consultation, anything you say is protected by attorney-client privilege—even if you ultimately choose not to hire the lawyer—so there is very little risk for you and a great opportunity to learn more about your options.
The key to overcoming all the fear and confusion you may be feeling is to be properly prepared for your first appointment. When you meet with the attorney, you should be sure to bring:
- A written account of the accident. If you have not already done so, you should write down everything you can remember about the accident. Your memory of what happened can be invaluable to an attorney when building your case, as it will give him or her many leads to follow. For example, if you distinctly remember two employees arguing about who was to blame when you slipped in a grocery store, their words can be used as evidence that the store owner knew that a dangerous condition existed. Your account of the accident should include the date and time of the injury, the place where the accident occurred, the people who were there, what you were doing right before the accident, what you did afterward, how others responded to the accident, a description of the scene, and any other details you can remember.
- Evidence. If you collected any evidence that you think could be useful, be sure to bring it with you. Pictures of the accident scene, an incident report or police report, names and contact information of witnesses, and emails or correspondence from the at-fault party can be invaluable in proving negligence in your case.
- Documentation of your injuries. The amount you can receive in an accident case is based on the severity of your injuries, but it will take extensive proof to get full compensation for all you have suffered. Keep a file with copies of all medical records related to the accident, such as x-rays, treatment records, follow-up care, diagnostic test results, prescriptions, and invoices. The paperwork should be in order from your emergency treatment and initial diagnosis to and your current medical condition. You should also bring paystubs from the time of the injury and any correspondence from an employer about your time away from work.
- Your insurance information. You should bring a copy of your available insurance policies (such as health insurance and car insurance) as well as any letters or notifications you have received from your insurer or the other party’s insurance company.
- A list of questions. Your attorney will likely ask you questions to get a sense of your case, but you should come prepared with a few of your own. Don’t be afraid of asking silly questions; you don’t have the same experience the attorney does, and he or she should be gracious when listening to your concerns. You may ask whether you need an attorney, how long it will take to resolve the case, and how likely it is that you can resolve the case out of court—and even if the attorney cannot provide a definitive answer, he or she should tell you what you need to do next for the best outcome.
Your consultation is a chance for you to see whether you and the lawyer want to work together—and if you do not, you should lose no more than an hour of your time. To set up your free initial consultation with a personal injury attorney, simply fill out the short contact form on this page. To learn more about personal injury cases in Tennessee, request a free copy of our book, The 10 Worst Mistakes You Can Make With Your Tennessee Injury Case.