Whether you've been injured in a car accident, a slip-and-fall incident, or after falling victim to another person's clearly criminal conduct, you may be considering a visit to a personal injury attorney. But if you've never been a plaintiff in a civil action before, it can be tough to know what to expect and how to prepare. Read on for three specific things you'll want to keep in mind during your first visit with an attorney.
Preparation is Key
During your first meeting with an attorney, your attorney will want to learn as much as possible about your case to determine whether he or she is willing to take you on as a client. Some cases are clear winners, while others may be clear losers, but most tend to fall into the gray area of "more information is needed."
Because of this, bringing along as much (organized) documentation as is currently available to you can be a good idea. This will allow your attorney to quickly review your case and may answer many of the preliminary questions your attorney might have, like when the accident took place, whether a police report was filed, when you sought medical treatment, and what your doctors said. Requiring your attorney to ferret out this information on his or her own can raise your legal fees and delay the ultimate resolution of your case.
An Attorney is an Expensive Therapist
Your attorney will be skilled in identifying and developing the legal issues in your case, and may even provide a sympathetic listening ear, but using your attorney as a means to vent all the frustrations that have developed as this situation has transpired can be a bad idea. Even if your attorney has taken your case on a contingency basis, rather than charging you a by-the-hour rate, spending time discussing your feelings instead of your plans can leave you without a solid map of how to proceed.
Instead, if you're having trouble coping with the emotions that have arisen as a result of your accident, consider seeing a therapist or counselor once or twice a week. This can help you vent your frustrations in a safe, non-judgmental environment and even give you some coping tools for dealing with stress while allowing your attorney to focus on what he or she does best.
There Are No Definitive Answers
It can be tempting to want quick answers and a quick resolution, especially when the medical bills from your accident have already begun rolling in. But it's important to remember that this process can often take time, and your attorney may find it impossible to predict exactly when your case will proceed to trial or whether it may resolve in a settlement. Indeed, it's a good idea to steer clear of attorneys who offer any sort of guarantee as to the outcome or the timing of a case's resolution.
For more information, contact your local personal injury law firm.