Articles

What To Take To Your Free Consult With a Personal Injury Lawyer

By Brenda K. Sunby (published on the AVVO website)

1. Police or Incident Report

If you have been in an accident where a police report has been generated, it is helpful to obtain a copy of that report from the police.  The report typically will contain the names of the other people involved and whether or not they have insurance.  It often takes several days for a police report to be completed so do not be alarmed if you are told that you need to wait a few days before they can release it to you.  You may also want to inquire whether there are statements, citations, photos, measurements, or any other documents regarding your accident.  A good personal injury lawyer will also request the CAD reports, in squad videos and 911 calls. If the police were not called but an Incident Report was completed  it is helpful if you can obtain a copy of that report.

2.  Insurance Information

The lawyer will need information regarding your own auto insurance (even if the accident was not your fault), your short and long term disability insurance (if you are missing time from work), your workers compensation insurance (if you were working at the time you were injured) and your health insurance.  You may not know the disability or workers compensation insurance information but you could ask your Human Resources Department at work.  You should bring along a copy of the front and back of your health insurance card and your health insurance policy (if you have a copy ).  If you are covered by Medicare, bring along your Medicare card and your supplemental insurance card. If you have received letters from any of the insurance companies, bring those letters along.

3.  Photographs

Documentation is very important in personal injury cases.  You should take photos of the damage to your vehicle if you were involved in a car crash.  You should take photos of what caused you to fall, if it was a trip and fall on a sidewalk or on ice.  You also should take photos of your injuries including images of you in braces, on crutches, with bruises, etc. If any items of personal property (such as clothes, glasses, cd’s, etc) were damaged, you should also photograph those so the damage is documented.

4.  Witness List

It is helpful if you can compile a list of the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all potential witnesses to the injury.  By providing this to your lawyer, the lawyer can easily interview the witnesses to determine if they have information that may be helpful to your case.

5.  Medical Facilities List

I my practice, I prefer to obtain the medical records and medical bills directly from the health care providers of my client’s.  Therefore, I do not ask clients to obtain their records or bills prior to seeing me.  You may want to ask your attorney what his or her preference is.  Instead, I ask that my clients bring along a list of all of the facilities where they have either been seen or from where they have received medical bills.  I also ask that my client’s provide me with the Explanation of Benefits that they receive from their health insurance provider so that I can track their medical bills.  Note that if you are seen by a single emergency room, you may receive separate bills from the hospital, from the ER physicians and from radiology or anesthesia.  In addition, I always have my clients provide me with the name of every medical facility where they have treated for the 10 year predating the accident.

Additional Resources

Do not worry if you are not able to provide all of the documentation.  Your lawyer will be able to track it down if you do not have it.  Try to organize it in a folder rather than bringing in a shopping bag  or box overflowing with unopened bills.  If you would like your original documents back, the lawyer will likely offer to copy the materials and return them to you.  By being prepared, your initial attorney meeting will be spent reviewing the merits of your case based upon solid information.  You will walk away with a better sense of the validity of your personal injury claim if your lawyer has the benefit of being able to review this information at the first meeting.  It also shows your lawyer that the claim is important to you and you are willing to be an active participant in working with your lawyer to have a successful claim.