If you’ve been in an accident in Houston or San Antonio, you might have questions about working with a Texas personal injury attorney. While your attorney will be there to guide you through the legal process, there are steps you can take to prepare for your initial meeting to help your advocate provide the best possible representation. This guide offers tips on how you can best prepare for your first meeting with your lawyer.
How Do I Prepare for an Initial Meeting With a Personal Injury Attorney in Houston or San Antonio?
Make a List of All Relevant Documentation and Evidence
The very first thing you need to do before your first meeting with a personal injury attorney is to make a list of the things you think might be important for them to have on hand to resolve your case. Creating a list of relevant documents can help ensure you bring as much relevant documentation to the initial meeting, which will allow your lawyer to get started working on your case faster.
If you’ve been in a car accident, your list will have things like a copy of your car registration information, insurance policy, and driving license. And don’t forget details like the other driver’s contact information, insurance details, and, of course, the police report. Keep in mind your attorney will most likely request additional documentation after learning more about your case.
Write Down a Timeline of What Happened … and Bring It With You
Spend some time thinking about the events immediately before and after the accident and then create a written timeline of what happened. Make a note of the exact address you left from, what you were doing there, who you were with, and the time you left. Write down what route you took and the names of any people with you during the crash.
Consider printing your timeline and bringing two copies with you to the meeting. Your attorney will be able to listen more attentively as you describe what happened since they won’t have to write down as many details. And you’ll be able to answer your lawyer’s questions quickly and precisely with accurate information.
Make a List of Witness Contact Information
Your attorney needs detailed facts from you before they can begin investigating or working on your case. Showing up at your first meeting with a written list of potential witnesses can decrease the time you spend repeating answers and responding to requests for further information in the future. Include each individual’s full name and updated contact information, so your attorney can get in touch.
Make sure to add a note letting your lawyer know what information you think the witness might have. Just make a few brief contextual notes your attorney can consult when determining who to have investigators contact. Your attorney will determine what witnesses to interview after meeting with you and reviewing the facts of your case.
Gather All Your Photographic and Video Evidence
If you or someone in the car took pictures after the accident, start getting copies together. Include a few photos of your vehicle before the accident. Your personal injury attorney can use these to get a better idea of your car’s pre-accident condition. And don’t forget to add any images of all vehicles involved taken immediately after the accident, close-ups of any damages, and any relevant video footage.
Bring a smartphone or tablet with you to your meeting to show your attorney important videos and photographs. Your lawyer may follow up later and ask for the rest of the images, so save everything you think might be relevant in a convenient digital file you can send electronically. It’ll save you a trip in Houston or San Antonio traffic!
Stay Away From Social Media
While it might be tempting to get on social media for support (or just to vent), resist the urge! Absolutely nothing good comes out of posting information about accidents on social media. This advice applies to both public and private posts and comments.
If your friends post photos or videos, ignore them. Keep your thumbs in your pockets and don’t like any images or comments on statements discussing or describing what happened or the events immediately before or after the accident. Be aware that opposing counsel can use just about anything you post, even seemingly minor statements or pictures taken “just in fun,” to later attack your credibility.
Understand the Fee Structure
There are several different attorney fee arrangements to be aware of, including hourly fees, flat rates, and contingency fees. Personal injury attorneys in San Antonio and Houston work primarily with contingency fee agreements. Under this fee structure, attorneys usually get paid an agreed-upon percentage of any settlement after certain costs are deducted.
Get familiar with how contingency agreements generally work and come to your initial meeting with your attorney prepared to ask informed questions about this important financial agreement. Consider asking your attorney to send you a copy of the paperwork ahead of time for you to review. And make sure you understand how expert witness fees and expenses will be handled under the terms of the agreement.
Write Down Any Questions
Most attorneys don’t have time to get through everything with their clients during one meeting. From getting to know each other to reviewing the basic facts of what happened, there’s simply a ton of information to cover in a short period of time during these initial sessions. It’s part of your attorney’s job to make sure you understand your rights, your options, and what’s being done on your behalf. But lawyers aren’t mindreaders.
Write your questions down and bring them with you to the meeting. Having your questions prepared (and written down) ahead of time is one of the best ways to ensure you get the information you need. And make sure you know how to contact your attorney with any further questions before the end of your first meeting.
Don’t Neglect the Practical
Show up at your initial meeting with your attorney rared up, ready to go, and prepared by packing everything you need to take with you well ahead of time. Don’t forget the basics, including a charger for your phone with those video images of the accident scene your attorney needs to see. Pack your documentation well ahead of time (and use a list) to make sure you don’t forget anything.
Many clients take notes during these initial meetings, finding them useful in remembering important conversation details. Consider taking a notepad and pen (or some kind of writing option) with you, just in case an important question pops into your head while your lawyer is explaining something else. It’s a great way to ensure your follow-up questions get answered right then and there.
Showing up for your first meeting with your attorney well prepared can drastically decrease the time needed to resolve your case. It allows them to get started working on the meat of your case right away. And that means less frustration for you and money in your pocket sooner rather than later. If you’d like to talk about your case with an expert attorney, contact us at Gamez Law Firm to schedule an appointment.