Consulting a PI Attorney
Consulting a Personal Injury Attorney
Most people do not have many occasions to consult with an attorney. The whole process can seem mysterious and intimidating, especially if you have been injured. The attorney-client relationship is an important one, and it is important for you to know as much about it as you can. Experienced personal injury attorneys know the importance of a good attorney-client relationship, and want to help you.
The Initial Interview
Many attorneys will tell you that the first meeting with a new client is the most important meeting. The first meeting is your chance to "size up" your lawyer and make sure that you are comfortable having him or her represent you. It also gives your attorney the chance to make a preliminary evaluation of your case.
At the first interview, your attorney will ask you to explain what happened to cause your injuries. You also will be asked how the injuries affect you. Do not be surprised or offended by difficult questions, or questions that may seem like your attorney does not believe what you are saying. If there are points that make your case seem less strong, it is important to learn these points early on to be able to refute them later. You should also not be embarrassed by the intimate, personal nature of some of the questions you will be asked, particularly about your medical condition. In a personal injury lawsuit, many of the facts needed to prove your case involve things you may not otherwise like to discuss. While it may be uncomfortable for you, remember that it is important that all the information about your condition be known.
The initial interview is usually when your attorney will tell you what he or she thinks of your case. You should learn if your case is a good one and if your attorney thinks it will succeed. You should also learn what type of fee arrangement will be made. Most injury cases are handled on a contingency basis; that is, your attorney receives a percentage of any judgment or settlement you are awarded. You should find out what the percentage is, and how the expenses of handling your suit will be paid.
At the first interview or shortly thereafter, you will be asked to sign authorizations for release of information. These releases will allow your attorney to collect information about you that normally is kept confidential. Examples of the types of information that may be obtained include
Your attorney will also give you any specific instructions he or she may have for you. The most common instruction is not to talk to others involved in your case. Most attorneys will ask that you refer any questions or requests in your case to him or her.
Pursuing Your Case
You and your attorney should stay in close contact with each other while your case is going on. You should feel free to contact your attorney about any questions or concerns you may have, and you should welcome questions and meeting requests from your attorney. There are many things that you may be called upon to do to pursue your case (such as testifying at a deposition, or giving answers to written questions known as interrogatories). Some of what will be asked of you may seem burdensome, but your cooperation is a vital part of the success of your case.
Your attorney is working to help you. The best type of attorney-client relationship is the one in which your attorney also works with you, and you work with your attorney. An experienced personal injury attorney knows the importance of good client relationships, and will work with you, as well as for you.
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