You’ve been the victim of an accident, injured by a medical professional, hurt on the job, or one of the many other tragedies that commonly effect everyday people. But what’s worse is that you now have to pick up your phone to schedule a meeting with a personal injury lawyer.
On the phone call, you get some quick advice and schedule a consultation. But what do you bring to meet with a lawyer? What questions are they going to ask? How long is this going to take? How much money is this going to cost?
The good news is that there is no need to worry. You’re not alone. Thousands of people meet with lawyers every day and go through the same anxiety. Fortunately, we’re here to guide you through the process and ease those anxious feelings.
How Long is a Meeting with a Personal Injury Lawyer Going to Last?
Have you ever sat in the waiting room at a doctor’s office? You wait and you wait. Your appointment was at 10:00am and it’s now 10:45am. You see people, who got there after you, get called back but you’re still waiting. Finally, you get called back. And yet, you’re still waiting for the doctor to come to your room.
You speak to the doctor for 5 minutes and then check out. You’ve wasted a chunk of your day sitting around waiting, only to forget the thing you meant to ask your doctor about. Thankfully, when you meet with a personal injury attorney, things are different.
Typically, there aren’t multiple people waiting in a lawyer’s lobby. Your scheduled meeting time is designed with you in mind. There is no rush to get you out the door so they can get to their next client. This is your meeting. Take full advantage of it. We’re here for as long as you want to be.
On average, a first meeting can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. A lot of it depends on the complexity of your case. But don’t fear, an experienced personal injury lawyer knows that your time is precious and will make sure to cover as much ground as possible in the shortest amount of time.
How Much Money Is This Going to Cost?
In short, nothing. But, one thing is for certain, if you’re meeting with a lawyer, expect a conversation about money. When you meet with a personal injury lawyer, one of the topics discussed is how the lawyer is paid. Our attorneys are paid on a contingency fee basis, which means there is no charge unless you receive compensation.
We also discuss how expenses are handled. Expenses can include: filing fees, ordering records, hiring expert witnesses, travel expenses, etc. In other practices of law, those expenses fall directly on the client. However, in a personal injury case, the lawyer advances those costs and deducts them from the settlement amount.
What Questions Are the Lawyers Going to Ask?
If you’ve ever seen the movie Forrest Gump, you probably remember that Forrest tells intimate details about his life to random strangers on a park bench while he waits for the bus. The fact that it took two and a half hours for the bus to never show up is beside the point. The point is, it’s uncomfortable disclosing private and personal information to people that you don’t know.
With that in mind, a lawyer will ask you several questions about your case, such as:
- How did the incident occur?
- What injuries are you suffering from? Are those injuries getting better or worse?
- Are you currently being treated by a doctor? If so, who is your doctor?
- Have you had any injuries prior to your case? If so, what were they?
- What automobile insurance do you have?
- What medical insurance do you have?
- Have you given a statement to an insurance company about your case?
- Do you have lost wages?
This is just the tip of the iceberg. The goal is to get a full picture of what happened in your case and how your lawyer can best represent you and your interests.
But a lawyer won’t be able to properly evaluate your case unless you’re honest. This is why it is important to tell the truth to your lawyer. Withholding information or trying to curb your story so it sounds like you are more injured than you are will only hurt you and your case in the long run.
Since you’re telling a lawyer all these intimate details about your life, what happens with that information? Well, unlike Forrest Gump, your personal and private information won’t be published to the world. Thanks to Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct, a lawyer is required to maintain attorney-client privilege. In short, these laws prevent a lawyer from telling others about the things their client says to them. This applies also if you decide to hire a different lawyer. They will all keep your information confidential.
What Should I Bring?
Your case is only as good as what you can prove. Any experienced lawyer will tell you that. It’s not that we don’t trust our client’s word, it’s that you have to think about what you can prove to the insurance company or to a jury if necessary. That’s why, from the very moment you’re injured,
it is important to document everything you can about your case. Typically, your lawyer will want to see:
- Medical records
- Accident or Police reports
- Any bills you have
- Records of whether you had to miss work
- Records of your lost wages
- Your insurance information
- Your driver’s license
- A list of any witnesses and their contact information
The list doesn’t stop there. And it will continue to grow as you give more information about your case to your lawyer. But that’s what makes it so important to document and save everything after it happens.
A lawyer may ask for all these things, but that doesn’t mean that you must have them when you go in for your first meeting. If you don’t have them now, or you accidentally left them at home, that’s not a problem. Your lawyer may ask you to send them at your convenience. But your attorney will talk with you at your first meeting and let you know what you need to preserve.
Do You Have Questions About Your First Meeting With a Personal Injury Lawyer?
We hope this guide to meeting with a personal injury lawyer for the first time has been helpful. We’ve laid out what you can expect when meeting with us. If you have any more questions or would like to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney, contact Siniard Law, LLC. The most important thing to us is that you, the client, feel comfortable from the moment we first meet.