Tips on How to Prepare For Your Meeting With a Car Crash Lawyer
You are about to meet for the first time with an informed, skilled car accident attorney to discuss a potential personal injury claim.
By remembering that the lawyer will use the meeting to evaluate you and your potential claim, you will be able to prepare in a way that will leave the right impression with the lawyer and increase the likelihood that he or she will agree to represent you.
First and foremost, organize yourself. In order to evaluate your potential claim, the lawyer will require certain documents from you. Before your meeting, prepare a folder containing the following documents:
1. A copy of the police report and/or an accident report (s). These reports will assist the lawyer in obtaining additional descriptions of the accident, determining the identity of any witnesses and their perspectives on how the accident happened and who is to blame, learning about any special circumstances, such as alcohol, and determining whether anyone was cited for the accident.
2. Photographs of the accident and its aftereffects.
The photographs will assist the lawyer in gaining an understanding of the accident scene and (if taken at the time of the accident) the amount of traffic, visibility, and weather conditions.
3. The other driver’s name, address, driver’s license number, vehicle year, make and model, license plate number, and insurance company.
The lawyer will need to identify the other driver in order to learn as much as possible about the driver, such as whether (and how much) insurance the driver has and whether the driver has been involved in other accidents.
4. The names and contact information of any accident witnesses. Witnesses can be extremely useful in determining who is to blame for the accident. The lawyer will want to know if all of the witnesses give the same account of the accident and if they are credible.
5. Photographs of the damage to the vehicle(s) involved in the accident, as well as repair cost estimates (or bills). The lawyer will also be able to determine the location and extent of the vehicle damage. All too often, insurance adjusters handling car accident cases judge damage claims based on the extent of vehicle damage. They, as well as potential jurors, are suspicious of serious injuries in cases involving minor vehicle damage. While there are many severe injuries that can occur in cases involving low impact or minor vehicle damage, the lawyer must determine how much resistance claims adjusters and potential jurors may present.
6. Photographs of any injuries sustained as a result of the accident. Photographs are the best way to convey the severity of a damage for visible injuries such as hematomas, fractures, cuts, and scarring. It may also be possible to use photographs to prove the progress of your treatment.
7. All medical records relating to the diagnosis of your injuries as a result of the accident, as well as the treatment you have received for those injuries. These records will help your lawyer in figuring out the severity of your injuries, treatment for those injuries, and treatment costs. In some cases, the injuries may require long-term or even life-long treatment. In such cases, the lawyer will demand documentation from your doctors proving the need for future treatments.
8. Proof of any lost wages (or loss of earning capacity) and other expenses incurred as a result of the accident. These are recoverable losses.
9. Your car insurance policy. In the incident that the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured, the lawyer will need to identify all potential sources of insurance coverage for your claim. Your lawyer may be able to access your policy for additional coverage if the worth of your claim is likely to exceed the insurance available from the other driver and you have wider coverage from your own uninsured/underinsured section of your policy.
You should also create a list of all previous injuries sustained (or other legal claims) you have filed, as well as a summary of any relevant medical history. Insurance companies keep records of all of these claims and may use data from previous claims to determine the value of your current claim. Both insurance adjusters and defendant’s lawyers will attempt to reduce the value of your current claim by citing prior claims and similar injuries.
You will prove to the lawyer that you are willing to take responsibility, organized, and dependable if you are well fully ready for your initial meeting. Along the way, ensure that you are polite to the lawyer’s staff, that you are easy to reach and that you return calls rapidly, that you are punctual, and that you have reasonable expectations. This is critical for top car accident lawyers who have the privilege of declining cases involving difficult clients.
If the lawyer chooses to pursue the claim on your behalf, he or she will most probably ask you to sign a medical contract release form in order to obtain copies of relevant medical records. You will almost certainly be asked to sign a retainer agreement by the lawyer. In personal injury cases, this is also known as a Contingency Fee Agreement because lawyers who manage personal injury cases usually take them on contingency rather than hourly.
That is, the lawyer will only be paid if there is a recovery, in which case the service charge will be a proportion of the recovery. The agreement will almost certainly include a provision allowing the lawyer to resign as your lawyer if new evidence leads the lawyer to reconsider the claim. If you agree to have this lawyer manage your claim and accept the agreement, the lawyer can begin working on the case.
Choosing an experienced, qualified car accident lawyer can have a major impact on the results of your case. Remember that the law restricts the period of time you have to continue pursuing a claim.
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