How to Prepare for the First Meeting With a Personal Injury Lawyer
You conducted thorough research on many of the personal injury lawyers practicing in your area. The ones that made your shortlist possess the experience you want in a personal injury lawyer, as well as have received dozens of positive client reviews on sites such as Yelp and Facebook. Now, the time has come to schedule a free case evaluation with the personal injury attorneys on your shortlist.
The most important question you have to answer is how to prepare for your first meeting with a personal injury lawyer.
A free case evaluation allows an attorney to review your case and determine how to proceed. You should file an insurance claim to recover the money you have already spent for medical care and to repair property damage. An experienced personal injury lawyer also can help you recover lost wages. The attorney sitting across from you examines the evidence you have collected to determine if there are any holes in your case.
Preparing for a meeting with a personal injury attorney requires you to organize the documents you have gathered for your case. You need to make copies of every medical bill, as well as organize the receipts that demonstrate how much you paid to repair property damage. Timekeeping records show how much time you missed from work.
The primary goal of a personal injury attorney is to persuade your insurance company and possibly a judge or a jury that you deserve compensation for your injuries. For more than three decades, the team of personal injury lawyers at Morgan & Morgan has recovered more than $7 billion in monetary damages for our clients. When you contact us for a free case evaluation, one of our lawyers will provide you with information concerning how to prepare for your first meeting with a personal injury lawyer.
What Are the Types of Monetary Damages?
Knowing how to prepare for your first meeting with a personal injury lawyer involves coming to the meeting with an understanding of the types of compensation awarded for personal injury cases. Filing a civil lawsuit requires you to prove the defendant committed one or more acts of negligence. If you cannot prove the defendant committed one or more acts of negligence, then the only way to receive compensation is through your insurance company.
Special Compensatory Damages
A personal injury incident can cost you a considerable amount of money in medical bills. To recover economic losses such as healthcare expenses and damage to property, a judge or jury has the power to award a plaintiff special compensatory damages. You also have the right to ask the court to award special compensatory damages for lost wages. Presenting documents that describe your expenses is the key piece of evidence to receive special compensatory damages.
General Compensatory Damages
As opposed to special compensatory damages, general compensatory damages do not pay for tangible economic losses. Instead, general compensatory damages cover non-economic factors such as mental anguish and emotional distress. Getting involved in a serious accident or an incident involving an act of negligence can produce a significant amount of trauma that can last for several years. Your personal injury attorney calculates a reasonable value for general compensatory damages based on how much you should receive for special compensatory damages.
If you were a victim of negligence, the court might award you punitive damages to penalize the defendant for careless and reckless behavior. Some acts of negligence are unintentional such as forgetting to put a wet floor sign down after a beverage spill. Other acts of negligence can be intentional like when a driver cuts you off while you attempt to change lanes. Courts typically award much more money for punitive damages when a defendant committed an intentional act of negligence.
What Are the Most Common Types of Personal Injury Lawsuits?
Understanding the most common types of personal injury lawsuits helps you learn how to prepare for your first meeting with a personal injury lawyer.
As the most common type of personal injury claim, car accidents can produce serious injuries that require immediate medical care. The causes of auto accidents include speeding, distraction, and reckless driving. Proving negligence involves your personal injury lawyer reviewing the official police report issued by the responding law enforcement agency.
Slip and Fall
Suffering an injury from a slip and fall can happen just about anywhere. However, the majority of slip and fall cases occur at hotels, restaurants, convenience stores, and grocery stores. Inattention is a common cause of a slip and fall, especially in the case of beverage spills. The common injuries associated with slip and fall incidents include back pain, head trauma, and one or more fractures.
Using a defective product can generate serious injuries that linger for months, if not years. Many product liability cases center on incorrect instructions and/or lack of a warning. A manufacturer can be held liable for allowing a dangerous product to reach consumers. Because manufacturers hire high-powered attorneys to defend them against product liability lawsuits, you should contact one of the personal injury lawyers at Morgan & Morgan to level the legal playing field.
What Should I Expect During My First Meeting with a Personal Injury Lawyer?
You should learn what to expect if you want to know how to prepare for your first meeting with a personal injury lawyer. One of our personal injury attorneys will discuss what happened by asking you to summarize the incident. Although some of the questions might be difficult to answer, you should hand over documentation to the lawyer sitting across from you to help clarify what occurred before, during, and after the personal injury incident.
You must provide a detailed description of your injuries, such as how much pain you feel and what your physician thinks about the prognosis of making a full recovery. The personal injury lawyer needs the name of your insurance company, as well as the policy number of your coverage. You should explain if you have interacted with any insurance adjusters and if you have contacted an insurance adjuster, what you said, and whether you gave the adjuster a recorded statement.
During the first meeting with a personal injury lawyer, you can expect several intervals of silence while the attorney reviews the evidence and writes down the names of witnesses. Most free case evaluations last no more than one hour, although for complex cases, the first meeting can last as long as two hours.
What Do I Need to Bring to the First Meeting with My Accident Attorney?
Now we come to the most important part of learning how to prepare for your first meeting with a personal injury lawyer. You need to bring certain items that support your claim.
Copy of the Official Police Report
A copy of the official police report represents one of the most influential pieces of evidence. It lists the date and time of the personal injury incident, as well as the possible cause or causes. Law enforcement will not respond to a slip and fall incident, which means you need to get a copy of the accident report provided by the business or organization where the slip and fall took place.
A copy of the official police report is a valuable document for a personal injury attorney because the judicial system considers the document to be an objective analysis of a personal injury incident. It references crucial evidence and lists the names of witnesses. A copy of the official police report also contains the names and contact information of the other party or parties.
Photographs of the Scene
If you stayed at the scene of the personal injury incident, taking photographs with your Smartphone can provide your attorney with important evidence. This is especially true for car accidents and premise liability cases. For an auto collision, you take photos of the damage done to your vehicle. You also want to store images of the crash scene, with an emphasis on tire marks and road conditions.
Expenses Related to Your Injuries
Personal injury lawyers want two types of documentation. The first type of documentation establishes liability in the form of convincing evidence. The second form of documentation demonstrates how much the personal injury has cost you financially.
Submitting medical bills to a personal injury attorney can lead to the calculation of an estimate for monetary damages. You should also bring in the bills for repairing property damage and timekeeping records that show how much time you have missed work because of your injuries.
Your insurance company wants to see your medical records before approving an insurance claim. If you decide to file a civil lawsuit, you need to submit medical records during the litigation process. The results of diagnostic tests establish you suffered from one or more injuries because of a personal injury incident. Copies of treatment programs and physical therapy sessions demonstrate the seriousness of your injuries.
One important document to hand over to a personal injury lawyer is a written statement that makes a prognosis about the need for future medical care. The personal injury attorney you choose should include estimated future medical expenses while calculating monetary damages.
List of Questions
The personal injury attorney sitting across from you during a free case evaluation is not the only one asking the questions. How to prepare for your first meeting with a personal injury lawyer requires you to bring a list of questions. Your turn to ask questions should come near the end of your first meeting with a personal injury attorney.
You want to leave a free case evaluation with a thorough understanding of the experience possessed by a personal injury attorney. Asking how long a lawyer has practiced personal injury law and how many cases the attorney has worked that are similar to your case gives you an idea concerning legal experience. You should ask if the attorney plans to work on your case from start to finish. Some lawyers delegate legal responsibilities because of their workload.
Make sure to ask about the fee structure and how long the personal injury attorney expects your case to resolve.
Know How to Prepare for Your First Meeting With a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you suffered one or more injuries that were caused by an accident or an act of negligence, you should contact the law offices of Morgan & Morgan to schedule a free case evaluation. You can either call our office or submit the short online form. Either way, you will speak with an attorney who will explain how to prepare for your first meeting with a personal injury lawyer.