If you have never had to pursue financial compensation for an injury before, you may not know what to expect from your first meeting with a personal injury attorney in Texas. While the initial consultation can seem daunting, it is an opportunity for a lawyer to answer your questions, usually at no cost to you and no obligation to hire the law firm. It also gives you the chance to find out if the personal injury lawyer is the right fit for your case. Knowing what to expect can help you prepare for your first meeting.
Who Will Be Present at the Meeting?
Most initial consultations with personal injury attorneys are only between the potential client and the attorney. There may be a paralegal or assistant present to take notes, as well. Ask the lawyer you meet if he or she will be the person who will be handling your case. If not, ask to meet the lawyer who will be your legal representative.
What Is the Purpose of the Meeting?
The purpose of the first meeting with a personal injury attorney is for the lawyer to hear the basic facts and fully understand your case. This will allow the lawyer to know whether he or she can proceed with a legal cause of action on your behalf. The initial meeting will also explain the essential points of the legal process, as well as determine your role in the case. For example, your attorney may explain the importance of following your doctor’s treatment plan. Another goal for the initial meeting is for you and the attorney to meet each other and find out if you are the right fit.
What Should You Bring?
You can bring certain documents with you to your first meeting with a personal injury attorney to give him or her more information about your case. While this is voluntary and not mandatory, it can make it easier for the lawyer to understand whether you have grounds for a case. It can also make the legal process more efficient should the attorney choose to offer his or her services. Bring documents related to your accident and injury, such as photographs, medical records, copies of x-rays, pay stubs, a police report, eyewitness statements, an injury journal and your insurance plan.
How Long Will the Meeting Last?
The answer to this depends on you and your case. If you have a particularly complex case, it may take longer for the personal injury attorney to understand its elements and explain the relevant legal doctrines to you. The same is true if the accident gave you severe or life-changing injuries. If you have a straightforward case, however, the consultation may not last as long. In general, the average initial consultation takes around one hour.
What Questions Should You Ask?
The initial meeting with a personal injury lawyer is a fact-finding mission for both you and the lawyer. Come prepared with a list of questions to ask the lawyer about your case and your rights. These questions should include, “Do I have a case?” “How much is my case worth?,” “How many weeks will it take to finish my case?” and, “Do you think you will need to go to trial?” The information you collect during your meeting should allow you to understand the basic facts of your case and whether you have one.
What Should You Look for in Your Personal Injury Attorney?
You should also ask questions directly related to the lawyer and his or her experience. The point of these questions will be to judge whether the lawyer is the right fit for you and your specific personal injury claim. Ask about the lawyer’s experience in your practice area, as well as case results achieved. You should leave your meeting with a good feeling about the attorney if you plan on hiring him or her.