Tips to Help You Prepare for an Initial Consultation
If you have been hurt at work, involved in a car crash or otherwise injured through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to compensation. One of the first steps on the path to potentially obtaining a financial award is to consult with a personal injury attorney. Let’s take a look at some steps that you should take to prepare for such a consultation and what happens during this process.
What Happens During an Initial Consultation?
Typically, an attorney will spend 20 to 30 minutes talking about what he or she does for clients, reviewing the details of your case and answering any questions that you may have. This person may also talk more about how much he or she is paid if you obtain a financial award from the defendant in your matter.
Gather as Much Information About Your Personal Injury Case as Possible
A legal professional may be able to do a better job of evaluating your personal injury case when he or she is able to get a fuller picture of what happened. Therefore, prior to a free consultation with a California attorney, it’s generally a good idea to collect videos, photos or other records that may verify your version of events. It’s also a good idea to collect medical records, car repair bills or other documents that might help establish the extent of the financial losses that you incurred.
Keep Records of Any Previous Conversations That You’ve Had About Your Case
There is a good chance that you’ll have had conversations with at least one insurance company before you have an opportunity to talk to someone from a local law firm. It’s likely that this conversation may have concluded with an offer to settle the case or a request for a formal statement.
It’s critical to note that anything that you say to an insurance company can be used against you during the legal process. The same is true of anything that you say to the defendant in your case. An attorney may be willing to provide advice as to how you should respond to any requests to settle your case or how to handle requests for a formal statement.
Even if you already know that you should say as little as possible about your case, you should still ask a prospective attorney how he or she would deal with an insurance company or other outside parties. This can give you a better idea of how well that person will likely represent your interests going forward.
How Would You Like Your Personal Injury Claim To Be Resolved?
Typically, a personal injury claim is resolved through a negotiated settlement. A settlement may be even more likely if the defendant is a corporation or a government agency. This is because the defendant doesn’t have to admit guilt, and in most cases, the terms of a settlement are not a matter of public record.
However, if you feel that you can get a better deal by going to court, your California attorney is bound to take the matter before a judge. It’s worth noting that it generally takes longer to obtain a favorable outcome through litigation, but litigation may be preferable if you want to hold a defendant publicly accountable for what he or she did.
The legal professional who you consult with will likely talk more about the various ways that your case may be resolved. This person will also likely talk more about the pros and cons of the various options that you have to obtain a positive outcome in your matter.
Make Sure That You Have a Stable Phone or Internet Connection
As a general rule, your free consultation will take place at the law firm where your prospective attorney practices. However, some attorneys will review cases over the phone or by videoconference. This may be ideal if you plan on talking to several attorneys and don’t want to spend your entire day in traffic. It can also be ideal if you sustained injuries that make it difficult to leave your home.
If you are going to consult by phone or online, it’s important that you have a stable phone or internet connection. Otherwise, it may be extremely difficult to conduct a case review in a timely manner or to get any real value out of the time spent with a legal professional.
Spend Time Researching Personal Injury Attorneys Before Talking to Them
Ideally, you will be represented by an attorney who truly wants you as a client. Researching personal injury lawyers in your area prior to scheduling consultations can help you learn more about each prospective advocate’s legal philosophy and background. Furthermore, you can start to figure out if this person has the temperament needed to resolve your case in a timely and favorable manner.
For instance, let’s say that an attorney takes an aggressive tone on his or her website or social media accounts. If you tend to be quiet and reserved, that individual’s personality might not mesh with yours. Of course, it might also mean that this person is exactly who you need to make sure that your interests are properly served throughout the legal process.
Ultimately, the more that you know about a person before a consultation, the easier it will be to make an educated decision about hiring that individual. It may also help you formulate questions that you’d like to ask during the initial meeting that might allow you to make a hiring decision with confidence.
Practice Saying No
Most attorneys are ethical people who don’t want you as a client if they can’t truly serve your needs. However, some may be too eager to sell their services or may otherwise pressure you into making a hiring decision before you are ready. Therefore, it may be a good idea to practice saying no before attending a meeting with a given legal advocate. Doing so can help you to refuse something that you don’t want in a confident and natural manner, which may make it easier to get an individual to put an end to his or her sales pitch.
Ideally, you will start to pursue a personal injury case as quickly as possible after getting hurt. The sooner that you take action, the easier it may be to prove that you were injured because of a defendant’s reckless behavior. In the state of California, you have two years from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit. This is known as the Statute of Limitations. Typically, your attorney will take such a step the day that he or she is hired. However, you can do so at any time even if you don’t have legal representation.