Accident victims have many questions about the process of hiring a lawyer and preparing for settlement or trial. To help our clients and others understand this process better, the following is a description of some key considerations in hiring a personal injury attorney. Much of the decision on how to choose your lawyer hinges on the initial consultation. At Bill Coats Law, you are charged no attorneys' fees for this meeting; it is completely free.
This is a very important first meeting between you and your personal injury lawyer. You may want to meet with several to find the best fit for you, since it is important to feel a good rapport with the person who is going to bat for you. This first meeting is a way you can learn more about the firm, the lawyer's level of experience and skill, especially as it pertains to cases like yours. It's a good idea to select a team of lawyers who have know-how on the particulars of your case, i.e. choosing an experienced drunk driving accident attorney if you were hit by a drunk driver.
Your discussion should be open and honest, where you are asked and feel comfortable providing all the details of your case, even if it might make you look bad. Be honest. If your lawyer hears your story and says he or she is not the right fit for you, better to know that from the beginning than to find out later.
Spend some time discussing the following subjects during your initial consultation:
1. The basics of your case: who, what, where, why and when
This is your chance to be honest and forthcoming about the facts of your case so your attorney can understand the particulars before recommending a course of legal action. Your attorney should facilitate a detailed discussion about your case and ask you lots of questions. Be prepared with documentation that helps support your answers, i.e. medical bills, police reports, insurance policies, etc.
2. The legal process
Your attorney should describe how the case can best proceed forward towards a favorable conclusion. You should walk out of this consultation with an understanding of the legal process and what happens behind the scenes. Your attorney should tell you the process for filing legal briefs, requests for replies and information, and what documents you'll need to provide. Knowing what the steps are can bring a lot of peace of mind and preparation for what's ahead, and help you understand how your attorney works.
3. Assessing your role in your case
You are very important to the outcome of your case. At the first consultation, expect your attorney to explain what you'll need to do to ensure a successful outcome. Making sure you meet with your doctors regularly and follow their orders for your recovery, and being truthful and transparent throughout the process are some examples of things accident victims must do to help along their case.
4. Establish communication processes
A regular communication schedule is good for both clients and attorneys. Your attorney should make you feel like priority #1. Expect that your personal injury lawyer will regularly reach out to you and ask about your health and injury improvements as well as be in the loop about any legal developments.
You should know who will be working on your case, and, in a small firm like ours, expect to meet them individually. Typically all the members of our firm work together on different aspects of our clients' cases. Meeting Tiffany and Nichole can establish a face with a name, and offer you peace of mind that we all have your best interests at heart.
When you are ready to make the decision to hire your personal injury lawyer, ask yourself if you feel confident with this lawyer. Pay attention to your gut feeling. A lawyer and his team who inspires confidence and make you feel comfortable about the path ahead is probably going to be the right attorney for you.