Preparing for Your First Meeting With a Car Accident Lawyer
After a car accident, you may feel a lot of pain and worry about your future. You may also feel overwhelmed getting to and from doctor’s appointments, keeping up with school or work, and just taking care of yourself. Probably the last thing you want to do is visit a lawyer at his office. However, a lawyer is necessary if you hope to get compensation for your injuries. To make sure your initial meeting with a car accident lawyer goes as smoothly as possible, do the following.
Write Down Your Memories of the Accident
You need evidence to win a car accident lawsuit. In particular, you should have witnesses who can testify as to what happened, and you are one of those witnesses. As soon as possible, clear out a window of time when you can be alone with your thoughts. Think back to the accident and write down everything that you remember, including:
- The date of the accident
- The time of day when the accident occurred
- The accident’s location (for example, the intersection of Bissonnet Street and Sam Houston Pkwy)
- The weather that day
- The condition of the roadway (wet, bumpy, icy, etc.)
- How the accident took place
- What you did right before the crash
It’s okay if some details are fuzzy, especially if you suffered a blow to the head or are in a lot of pain. However, your car accident attorney will need as much information as you can share, so write down everything you remember. No detail is too small.
Find the Police Report
The police report contains a lot of helpful information. For example, it should identify witnesses to the accident and the identities of the cars involved. The officer might also have made an initial determination as to who is responsible for the crash.
If the police were called, then you should have a copy of the police report. Find it and make a copy for your lawyer. However, if no police were called, then prepare to tell your lawyer. Identify any witnesses to the crash as best you can (for example, passengers in the car with you). Give your lawyer their names and contact information, such as their telephone numbers and email addresses.
Pull Together Pictures of the Accident
It’s always helpful to have pictures of the scene of the accident, so someone hopefully took pictures soon after the crash. Pictures taken with your smartphone are perfectly acceptable. These pictures can provide helpful clues about what caused the crash. For example, an accident reconstructionist can use the final resting place of the cars to determine the angle and severity of impact as well as who was responsible.
Gather Proof of Your Injuries
To sue, you need to suffer an injury, and the severity of your injuries will determine how much money you can get. Before meeting with your car accident lawyer, pull together copies of all medical records, drug prescriptions, and medical bills. If you don’t have medical records with you, that’s okay. Instead, write down the following information:
- The names of all hospitals, clinics, and doctors that have treated you for your accident injuries
- Whether emergency personnel treated you
- Your initial diagnosis and treatments
- Whether you took any tests, including X-rays
- Any follow-up diagnoses and treatments
- Your current medical condition, e.g., your present symptoms
- Whether you suffered similar injuries in the past
Take pictures of your injuries soon after the accident. It might take a year or more before you go to trial, and by then your bruises will fade and scars will heal. While they are fresh, take vivid photographs from many different angles as soon as you feel up to it. Your lawyer will find these photographs helpful if you end up in court.
Prepare a List of Questions
Your initial consultation allows the lawyer to get a sense of the case and offer advice about how best to proceed. But your consultation is also a chance for you to test whether the lawyer is someone you want to work with in the future. Draw up a list of questions that you want answered so that you can quickly go through and get the information you need.
Generally, you will probably want to ask the following:
- How many car accident cases has the lawyer handled? Have they worked on car accident cases recently?
- Have they handled car accident cases like yours? For example, suing a trucking company is different than suing the driver of a passenger car.
- Has the lawyer ever gone to trial, or do they only settle cases?
- How does the law firm communicate? Email, phone, by mail? How soon will they respond to questions?
Also ask questions about lawyer fees. Some lawyers will charge by the hour, but others will represent a client on contingency, meaning they only get a fee if they win the case for you. At Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, our clients pay us nothing up front when we take their cases, and they pay us nothing until we win them compensation, either in the form of a settlement or a jury verdict.
Assessing Whether You Want to Hire a Lawyer
A successful initial consultation should help you decide whether the lawyer is a good fit and someone you want to work with in the future. Look back over the answers to your questions and analyze the following:
- How clearly did the lawyer explain your case? If you couldn’t understand what the lawyer said, you will have trouble staying involved in your case. Remember that you, the client, makes the important decisions, and you can only do that if you understand what is going on.
- Did you feel comfortable with the lawyer or did you feel intimidated? You might work closely with the lawyer, and you want someone who makes you feel comfortable.
- Are you happy with the fee arrangement? If you can’t afford that lawyer, hire someone else.
- Did you like the lawyer’s support staff? Did they treat you with respect? If not, then look for a new lawyer.
Speak to a Houston Car Accident Attorney Today
If you or a loved one was in a car accident, you need to talk with a Houston personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Call 800-898-4877 to schedule a free case evaluation with one of the attorneys of Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law, or complete our online contact form.