Your hands are sweaty, and your pulse is racing. These are common symptoms of walking into an initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer, especially for an inexperienced novice. This meeting, however, plays a vital role in how your case will be built and ultimately presented in court.
The Client’s Purpose
Clients should make their voice heard during this first consultation. This may be the only time you get to ask the lawyer all the questions you have regarding his law firm and his experience. Ask all of your questions about the attorney’s experience and how he or she would anticipate handling your case. Take the time to evaluate the attorney’s answers to all your questions.
As a client, it is your responsibility to make the attorney fully aware of the basic facts surrounding your personal injury case. Make sure you bring all relevant documents, including photos, bills and witness statements, with you to this consultation. While a full case will not be developed right now, the more information you can provide your attorney during this appointment, the quicker the lawyer will be able to assess your claim and if, the attorney agrees to represent you, start building a winning case.
The Lawyer’s Purpose
It is important to realize that not every case will be accepted by the lawyer. During the initial consultation, the attorney will want to make sure he is competent to represent you in the case. The attorney may ask questions to get a better understanding of how your injury occurred. He or she will also want to know that you are serious about going through with legal action.
In order for the lawyer to win your case, he or she will need to be able to prove who was responsible for your injury. If the attorney is unable to identify a responsible party (or if the responsible party does not have the ability to compensate you), the attorney may decide to decline accepting your case.
Another factor in an attorney’s decision on whether or not to accept your case is whether your injuries are serious enough to justify a substantial settlement or award. Bring as many pertinent documents (especially medical bills and records) as possible to this meeting to show the lawyer you have a serious case.
The Consultation Process
Depending on the personal injury lawyer’s preferences, the initial consultation may take place face-to-face or over the telephone. Both the client and the attorney will take turns asking and responding to questions. Be as straightforward and honest as possible, as the more information you can give, the better outlook the lawyer may have for your case. Bring all pertinent documents.
After the initial consultation, both the client and the lawyer will have a better understanding of each other and of the merits of the case. If the attorney feels there is a strong case, he will agree to represent you. Always be honest and frank during this meeting so the attorney can gather all the information he needs from you.