The Attorney-Client Relationship
If you were injured in a car accident, you’ve likely called several lawyers in your area that handle personal injury claims. Pursuing a personal injury claim can be a long and exhausting process, and it is critical to get started off on the right foot. Being prepared for the first time you meet with your attorney is the first of many important steps you will take along the way.
Due to the nature of the attorney-client relationship, establishing rapport is essential and is done through a relationship of trust, confidence, and comfort. The goal for both parties is that you have a relaxing, painless, and pleasant experience so that you leave the meeting with a sense of relief and confidence. The fundamental function of the lawyer is to help the client to understand the legal issues associated with the accident, as well as to advise the client about options for moving forward, to form a plan for dealing with the situation, and to implement that plan.
With this being said, enabling your attorney to properly evaluate your claim hinges on your ability to accurately and effectively recount the details of your accident in the initial consultation. You should be prepared to discuss the event at length and in detail. While discussing your accident can be emotional, it is important you understand that your attorney needs these facts and details in order to effectively evaluate your claim. Therefore, the number one thing you need to bring to the consultation is yourself, prepared to thoroughly discuss your accident and injuries.
Good lawyers are there to serve your best interests. Remember that an initial consultation is as much about you getting to know your attorney as it is for them to learn about your claim. Ask questions about the process and how the claim will proceed. The initial consultation is an opportunity for both parties to feel comfortable with moving forward with an attorney-client relationship.
Candidness During Your Initial Consultation
Many times, clients tend to dull down or withhold information that they think might be embarrassing or incriminating. However, it is important to understand that complete disclosure of all pertinent facts is essential to your attorney’s ability to adequately evaluate your potential claim.
Neither you nor the attorney can avoid adverse facts; therefore, it is imperative to be candid throughout the entire consultation process. Facts that may be damaging to your case are important in assessing the merits of your claim. The bottom line is this: the sooner your attorney becomes aware of any potentially harmful facts, the sooner he or she can prepare to mitigate them.
The Importance of Being Prepared
Going in unprepared can potentially limit the relationship that is established at the initial consultation, which in turn leads to limited advice. It is more difficult for your lawyer to advise you on benefits, risks, costs, the probability of a favorable outcome, the legal and non-legal consequences of going forward, and what to do next when they don’t have a full understanding of what’s going on in your case.
While documentation can be important and is certainly helpful, you are the one who knows the most about the facts of your particular case. Therefore, the more you can do to better recall the facts and circumstances surrounding your claim, the better suited your attorney will be to adequately evaluate your potential claim.
Specific Ways to Prepare For the Meeting
One of the most important items you can prepare before the initial consultation is a written timeline. A pre-made chronological order of events as you remember them is an easy way for your attorney to get a quick overview of your potential claim. Your timeline should begin with the date of the accident and continue to the date of your consultation.
Typically, you should include things like the events that led up to the collision, where and when your collision occurred, and the dates of your treatment. Be as detailed as possible in your timeline. The timeline should not only include your present medical condition but also your medical condition prior to the accident and future medical treatments.
In addition to being easy to follow, another advantage of a timeline is that any gaps or potential oversights are relatively easy to spot. This is important because it will allow the attorney to effectively evaluate your current treatment plan and prepare for any pitfalls he or she may see. Furthermore, it will allow the attorney to adequately address any problems he or she may see with your current treatment plan. For more information on how gaps in treatment can negatively affect your case, please visit the following article.