Personal Injury-Wrongful Death FAQ
What to Expect During Your Initial Attorney Interview After An Injury
During the initial interview, your lawyer will, of course, want to hear about what happened to you and collect a variety of information from you. The length of the initial interview can vary a lot, depending on your injuries. In a simple negligence case it probably won’t take too long, especially if you have prepared for the meeting, whereas a complex case or a legal case involving serious injuries could take much longer.
As you tell the lawyer about your accident, he or she may ask questions about it. Frequently, lawyers wait until you have told them everything before asking questions. Some of the questions may be difficult to hear, let alone answer. Be brave. Your lawyer needs to know the answers to help you find the best solution for your case. The lawyer will collect a variety of information from you that relates to the accident, your medical treatment, who else was involved in the accident, potential witnesses and the like. Here’s the sort of thing you can expect:
- The lawyer may ask you to sign medical authorizations and releases so he or she can obtain your medical records.
- The lawyer will want to know about all your insurance coverage.
- The lawyer will ask if you have talked to any insurance adjustors and if so, what you have said and whether you provided a recorded or written statement about the accident.
- The lawyer will ask you if anyone else has interviewed you about the accident or your injuries, and if so, whom you talked to and what you said.
- The lawyer may ask you, if it’s not evident by looking at you, about the current status of your injuries, whether you are in pain, what your prognosis is, and so forth.
- The lawyer may advise you to see your doctor regularly if you have any physical problems or complaints. If you don’t see your doctor, the defendant may argue that you aren’t seriously hurt as no visits tends to indicate that there are no problems.
- The lawyer may tell you that your case will be considered and that you will hear later if he or she will take your case. This is a common practice in injury cases, so don’t read anything into it.
- The lawyer may decline to take your case. He or she may do this for many reasons, such as his or her current case load, knowledge of his or her capabilities, economic reasons, or family responsibilities. You also may learn that in the lawyer’s opinion, you might not have much of a case. This is valuable information, and it is better to know early. By all means seek a second opinion.
- The lawyer may refer you to another lawyer. This happens when the lawyer cannot take your case or thinks the other lawyer can do a better job for you.
- The lawyer may ask you to sign a retainer agreement or employment contract. Read the contract carefully and ask questions before you sign it. You should be able to take the contract home to study it before you sign.
- The lawyer will tell you what the next steps are. There may be a factual investigation before a lawsuit is filed. The lawyer may be able to give you a rough estimate of how long it will take to litigate the case.
- The lawyer will tell you not to talk about the case with others, and to refer questions to the lawyer. This is very important advice. Insurance companies are known to send investigators out to talk to your neighbors, and who knows what they’ll say? Don’t let that make you paranoid, but let it be a persuasive reason not to talk to people about the case. Just as loose lips sink ships, stray comments can ruin your case in the courtroom.
- The lawyer will probably give you an idea of how he or she intends to keep you informed of progress on your case. There is no single approach to this. Some lawyers provide periodic report letters; others call you on a periodic basis or when something happens; some ask you to call when you have questions.
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