If you’ve had an accident that is the fault of someone else’s actions or negligence, you’re probably preparing to hire an accident attorney to ensure you get the compensation you need to recover from your injuries. While this is the correct course you should take, you also want to be prepared before you attend your initial meeting with your lawyer so that you use the time as efficiently as possible.
What Should You Do Before You Meet With an Accident Attorney?
Write Down Your Version of the Accident
Your attorney is going to need to know what happened to cause your injuries before determining whether you have a case or not. You are one of the best witnesses to your own accident, so before you meet with your lawyer, write down everything you remember from the event, including the following details:
- The date the accident occurred
- The time the accident occurred (if not the exact time, then the time of day)
- Where the accident occurred (i.e. cross streets, the name of the store or other business, etc.)
- The weather on the day of the accident
- If it was a car accident, the conditions of the road
- If it was another type of accident, the conditions of the floor, sidewalk, etc.
- How the accident happened
- What was happening right before the accident
In your written account, provide as many details as you can remember so that you’re actually painting a picture for your attorney. The events that led up to the accident are extremely important because they show the chain of incidents that caused the accident to happen. Fully explain what you were doing as well as what anyone else involved in the accident was doing (if you know). For example, if you saw the other driver texting, that’s critical information.
Obtain a Copy of the Police Report
In the event of an accident, you should file a police report so that the event is on record. This report is essential to your case, as it will identify witnesses to the accident, the parties involved, and a description of the scene. Any witnesses who were interviewed will have their statements attached to the report. It’s also possible that the officer included a judgment of who was at fault, which can be important in proving your case.
If you did not call the police, you need to let your lawyer know that right away. This could make your case more difficult to prove, but it’s not impossible. Make a list of any potential witnesses, including family members or friends who were with you when the accident occurred. Provide their names and any contact information you have, such as phone numbers and email addresses. This will help your attorney track down people who can help prove your case.
Print Out Photographs of the Accident
Always take pictures of an accident if possible. If you aren’t able to take photographs because of your injuries, have someone who witnessed the accident take them and forward them to you. Nearly everyone has a mobile phone with them, so this shouldn’t be difficult to do. Before you meet with your attorney, print out the photographs from your phone so that they have a copy for their files. They won’t do any good if they’re still on your phone.
If you do not have photographs of the actual accident, you may want to return to the scene and take photographs of the location where the accident occurred. This will at least give your attorney some perspective on what happened and may make it easier for you to explain the events that led up to the accident. Traffic light locations, directional signs, street signs, and other items may be helpful to your case as well.
Gather Medical Records and Other Proof of Your Injuries
To successfully settle or try your case, your attorney is going to need proof of your injuries that were caused by the accident. Additionally, the severity of your injuries will need to be determined so that your compensation can be correctly calculated. Obtain copies of your medical records, medical bills, prescriptions, and any other medical information that may be relevant to your case, such as physician statements and work restriction letters that have been sent to your employer.
You can also authorize your attorney to obtain your medical records for you, but for this first meeting, provide them with the following information:
- The names of all medical providers who have treated you for your injuries
- Emergency treatments received for your injuries
- Initial diagnoses
- Any tests that were given to you (x-ray, MRI, CT scan, etc.)
- Follow-up diagnoses
- Follow-up treatments
- Your current condition with symptoms
- Any similar injuries you have previously suffered from
As soon as possible after the accident, take photographs of your injuries. If you’re unable to do this, ask a family member to do it for you. It’s also possible the hospital will take photographs to document your injuries but don’t rely on that. If your case ends up in the courtroom, it’ll be many months later, and any minor injuries will have healed. You deserve compensation for these injuries as well as your major ones, so document them all.
Gather Information About Lost Wages
If you’ve had to miss work because of the accident, you can be compensated for your lost wages as well as your medical expenses. Bring in your pay stubs for the last few pay periods before your accident to show how much money you were making prior to getting injured. Provide proof of the days you’ve missed from work due to the accident (you may need to obtain this from your employer) and explain whether you expect to miss more.
If you’ve returned to work since the accident but are restricted by your injury from fully completing your duties, provide the physician’s statement that indicates your restrictions. Hourly workers should also provide pay stubs for any pay periods following the accident to show how the injuries are affecting your income. If your physician has provided a date when you’ll be able to return to work fully, bring that notice as well.
Prepare a List of Questions to Ask Your Attorney
So far, all of the information and documentation you’ve gathered has been to give your attorney an idea of the nature of your accident case. However, an initial meeting is also the time when you get to interview the lawyer to see if they’re the right fit for your needs. Consider asking the following questions while you’re there.
- What is their experience with accident claims?
- What is their success record with cases like yours?
- Are they prepared to go to trial?
- What are some examples of their settlements in cases like yours?
- How often will they communicate with you and how will they communicate?
- Will You get personal attention or be handed off to other lawyers?
- What is their fee structure?
- Do they have access to experts like investigators, medical experts, financial experts, etc.?
- How long do they anticipate your case lasting?
You should be satisfied with the attorney’s answers to all your questions before you make a decision about hiring them. If you are happy with their answers and you feel like they will be a good fit for your situation, you will want to hire them right away. The sooner they get to work on your case, the sooner you can get the compensation you need and deserve.
Contact Potts Law Firm today to speak with our experts about your case and to set up an initial consultation.