09/11/2017 0 Comments
What to Bring to Your First Personal Injury Law Appointment
When meeting a personal injury lawyer for the first time, much information needs to be exchanged to determine the nature and potential for a law suit for damages and if the fit is right for both parties. It is recommended that you learn what you can about the lawyer you will meet with, including by reviewing the law firm’s website, length of time in existence, any online reviews, if they have successfully handled the type of case you have and if they have trial experience. The initial meeting usually is not long, especially if you come prepared with an intake form completed in advance.
To get the most value from your time together, come prepared with as much of the following information possible:
- Identification (your driver’s licence or other ID, family information)
- Description of the accident, including the date, time, location, weather, your positioning as the driver, cyclist, motorcyclist, passenger or pedestrian, direction faced by you and the defendant
- Police report and charges laid to the parties if any
- Information about others involved in the accident, including name, address, license number and insurance information
- Witness information (if any)
- Employment information, including recent pay statements, time off from work as a result of your injury, any forms filed with your employer or insurance company, prior tax returns
- Photographs (if any)
- Damage to property (including clothing)
- Insurance information, including copies of correspondence and a description of any interaction with adjusters, including what was said if you gave an interview or statement of fact
- Injuries sustained (including an ambulance, hospital, or other medical report(s), a list of all the ways your life has been affected, diagnosis, treatment, prognosis, and prior medical history
- A calendar, with important dates (e.g., date of injury, surgery dates, specialists seen, treatment)
To advise you about your legal options, the lawyer will ask further questions and review the information provided, check for conflicts, and consider your case, including the likelihood of success. He or she may contact you shortly after the meeting to discuss your legal options or may be able to determine at the initial meeting if he or she can take your case. The lawyer will advise you to continue to seek medical treatment for lingering physical problems or complaints so that it cannot be later claimed that you had no medical problems because none were treated.
Next, you can anticipate that the lawyer will tell you about himself or herself, the firm, office(s), lawyer(s) and support staff on site, number of years in business, success rate with similar cases, trial experience, the firm’s policies and procedures and how much it will cost to represent your case. The initial consultation at a personal injury law firm such as Bronson Jones & Company LLP is complimentary. Most personal injury firms work on a contingency basis with no retainer fee, which means that fees are due if and when the lawyer successfully obtains compensation for you. Lawyer’s fees are typically a percentage of the amount of compensation obtained which can vary by type of claim. Disbursements paid for the investigation, court fees, transcripts, obtaining records and other expenses such as faxing, photocopying and long-distance calls, are typically recovered by the law firm when the claim is settled and the settlement funds are paid. The lawyer’s willingness to carry expenses of the case to the end through the duration until final settlement results is a significant benefit to the client especially if it takes several years to reach a fair settlement amount from the insurance company.
A retainer agreement details the firm’s contract for services. Sometimes a tiered fee agreement is outlined, with a high percentage of fees encountered if the matter is not solved at the start of litigation, at discovery, or must go to trial. By statute, the maximum rate which the lawyer can charge for services is 33.3%. Insurance for the legal fees and disbursements may be advised to strengthen your legal position. The lawyer will review the agreement or other form of representation contract with you to ensure you understand each aspect. You will have the option to take home the agreement for further consideration before signing and your signed consent begins the process for the lawyer’s representation and services to you.
By the end of the first meeting, the lawyer should be able to explain the law relating to your case, review the fee agreement, your involvement in the case, the estimated time for resolution of the case, and outline the next steps. Once you sign the retainer agreement for services, you may be asked to sign forms to release your medical information from health care providers and forms to coordinate accident benefits on your behalf, including handling all correspondence and remittance of medical treatment, home care, lost wages and property damage claims. You will be advised not to talk about the case with others, not to speak with the defendant or the other insurance company, who is prohibited from contacting you, and that, if they contact you, any questions should be referred back to the lawyer retained. When you leave the initial meeting with Bronson Jones & Company LLP you can expect to be satisfied about coming to the right place for your personal injury claim. To book your free consultation contact us toll free 24 hours at 1-855-852-5100.