You're nervous about scheduling an appointment with an auto accident lawyer, even though the first appointment is free. The idea of talking to a lawyer feels intimidating, especially since you're not entirely sure you deserve a better settlement offer. Don't hesitate to have this free consultation. Accident attorneys want to help you obtain the right amount of financial compensation if you've been injured through the reckless or negligent actions of another driver.
By knowing what to expect when you make your first contact and when you talk with the lawyer, you can feel more comfortable about the process.
Making the Call
A receptionist or legal secretary will probably answer your call and ask you a few basic questions. You'll then talk briefly with a lawyer if one is available. Otherwise, the administrative person you spoke with will schedule an appointment or a lawyer will call you back the same day. Typically, you'll have your free consultation within 24 hours.
In some instances, the lawyer will not be able to help you. For example, your situation may be out of his or her areas of expertise, in which case this lawyer may refer you to a colleague at a different firm.
You can expect everyone you speak with to be friendly and helpful.
What to Bring to the Appointment
The person you talk to will ask you to bring certain items to the office. There may be other things you can bring to help the attorney evaluate your situation. If you have these items or can get them by your appointment time, bring:
- the police report on the accident
- information about damage to your vehicle
- photos of your vehicle and the accident scene
- your medical records and bills related to the accident
- any correspondence you've had with the at-fault driver's insurance carrier
Questions the Lawyer Will Ask
You can expect to hear questions regarding:
- details of the accident
- your injuries
- witnesses at the scene
- people who can verify your ongoing physical and emotional issues since the accident
Make thorough notes about the accident so you're fully prepared to answer questions.
Instructions You Will Receive
The attorney will stress the importance of your cooperation with any requests you receive from the firm, such as promptly sending any further documentation the lawyer needs. You also must inform the attorney of any new health care providers you see and of any changes in your medical status.
In addition, you will be instructed not to discuss your case with other people and not to talk to any insurance adjusters or other insurance carrier representatives without your lawyer present.
Contracting With the Lawyer
If the attorney wants to accept your case and you feel good about this particular law firm, you'll need to sign several documents. Some of these include authorizations for the attorney to access your medical records, as well as your employment records to verify lost wages. You'll also sign a retainer agreement detailing the contingency arrangement.
Accident lawyers generally are paid a percentage of the settlement or court award they obtain for their clients and don't charge anything up front; this is known as a contingency fee. However, you may be responsible for certain types of court costs; the attorney will explain these costs in detail before you sign a contract.
Don't feel that a free consultation makes you obligated to sign a contract. If you don't feel comfortable with this lawyer for any reason, you do not have to to hire him or her for legal representation. You can interview another attorney to find a better fit for you.
What You Can Do Now
Now that you know what to expect, contact an auto accident lawyer and schedule your free consultation. Gather the documentation the lawyer may want to see and review your notes. You're taking an important step toward obtaining the financial compensation you deserve.