Your first meeting with a personal injury lawyer in Houston, TX is an excellent opportunity to get to know each other, review the details of your case, and get some projections for the outcome. To make the most of your consultation, you should arrive with a sense of what kinds of questions might be asked and some materials to review with the lawyer. Here is what to expect from the initial meeting along with important tips on how to prepare.
What Will Happen During Your First Meeting With a Personal Injury Lawyer?
The purpose of your first meeting with a lawyer is to determine whether his or her expertise is a good fit for your case. You will be assessing his or her professionalism and experience, while he or she will be reviewing your case to determine if it offers enough evidence and legal grounds to secure a favorable outcome.
In the meeting, you will spend the majority of your time discussing how the accident happened and the impact your injuries have had on your life. Towards the end of the meeting, the lawyer will give you an assessment of the case, discuss the next steps, and explain the legal fee structure.
What Should You Bring to the Meeting?
When you go to the first meeting, you should bring documents that will give the lawyer as much information as possible regarding the accident, your injuries, your insurance coverage, and the available evidence. It’s ok if you don’t have all of the documentation needed to submit a claim or file the lawsuit just yet. Your lawyer will help you build your case as you go forward in the process.
Records of the Accident
If the accident was reported to the police, you should obtain the report number and a copy of the write-up if possible. In the case of a car crash, footage taken on a cell phone by you or others is helpful, especially if you have videos and photos that show the crash from multiple angles.
Records of Your Injuries
Any health records pertaining to your injuries will be very important in your case. Before your meeting, gather all of the reports and paperwork made out at the emergency room or during subsequent appointments to treat your injuries. The lawyer will likely be interested in seeing any information provided by the hospital or the providers who treated you.
Your Insurance Information
To understand the best way to pursue compensation for your injuries, the lawyer will need to understand how much coverage you have through your own policies. While your health insurance might cover your injuries initially, they will likely request reimbursement out of your settlement if another individual is found liable. Showing the lawyer copies of your health and auto insurance policies can help determine the best way to arrange for the medical bills to be paid.
If you are pursuing a claim involving a faulty product and the product is small enough to carry, you should bring it to your meeting. If the product is too large or dangerous to transport, bringing photos of it will suffice.
Keeping Evidence and Staying Organized
As you and your lawyer are working on your case, it is important to keep track of all the types of evidence listed above, as well as any evidence you do not bring to your first meeting with the lawyer. All of your records, paper and electronic, should be available and on hand when it comes time to prepare your case. When in doubt about a document, keep it and ask your lawyer whether or not it will be useful.
Reviewing the Details of Your Accident
In Texas, negligent parties or their insurance providers are legally responsible for compensating damages relating to any injuries that result from the negligent actions. If the party who caused your injury acted with gross negligence, you may be able to collect punitive damages in addition to compensation for your losses.
In order to hold the person who caused your injury accountable, your lawyer will need to understand exactly how the accident happened and what kinds of damages you experienced. During your first meeting, you might not have access to all of the evidence you need to prove your case. However, sharing as much detail as possible can help the lawyer start to formulate a strategy that will drive the investigation and the arguments.
Who, What, Where, When, and Why?
Before sitting down to describe the accident to your lawyer for the first time, you may want to review the details; possibly even writing them down. Be sure to provide as much information as you can, including:
- Where the accident took place
- What time of day the accident happened
- Weather and road conditions (for car accidents)
- Actions of yourself and/or others that preceded the accident
- How you felt immediately after the accident
Being able to identify all of your eligible losses is key to maximizing your compensation. In most cases, a personal injury lawyer is able to point out some damages that the client did not think to include, such as the loss of vacation days or pain and suffering.
During your first meeting, you should be prepared to review the extent of your injuries and the cost to treat them. It is ok to provide estimates if you have not fully recovered. You should also go over how many days you stayed home from work, how the injury felt, what kinds of emotional distress the accident caused, and whether or not you had to give up any activities you enjoy.
Discussing the Legal Fees
Your first meeting should conclude with a candid discussion about the legal fees. Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis by taking their costs out of the settlement rather than upfront.
The fee is usually a percentage of the payout, which incentivizes the attorney to maximize your settlement offer. Often, the percentage is lower for straightforward cases with ample evidence and higher for complex cases that involve more risk and research for the attorney. There may also be different fees for cases that resolve in a settlement vs. those that go to trial. You and the lawyer can discuss how to reduce the costs of your case and what pricing options are available to you.
Signing the Retainer
Your first meeting with a personal injury lawyer in Houston, TX will likely be a free consultation. If the two of you decide to move forward and work together on the case, you will sign a document called a retainer.
The retainer solidifies the client-lawyer relationship, giving the lawyer the right to legally represent you according to professional standards set by the bar association. As your lawyer, he or she is bound to act in your interests exclusively, and the confidentiality of the conversations you have with him or her regarding your case is protected.
Schedule Your First Meeting With a Personal Injury Attorney in Houston, TX
When you need to seek damages for a personal injury, our legal experts are there to review your case and provide answers to all of your questions. We have extensive experience representing clients against both big insurance companies and large corporations. To schedule your free consultation, contact Houston Injury Lawyers PLLC.