You’re meeting your attorney for the first time. It can be strange, even a little awkward. But like anything else, you shouldn’t feel intimidated if you’re prepared. Our associate attorney Brett Manchel lays out five essentials for your first attorney-client meeting, and how each aids the legal process.
“It’s probably the most important piece of information we require from the get-go. A police report establishes a few things: which driver is at fault, who the potential defendant might be, any witnesses. It provides information like the weather, time of day, the degree of impact, road conditions, and an official determination by the attending officer as to the cause of the crash. It also tells us if someone received a traffic citation or if a commercial vehicle was involved. And most importantly, it provides insurance information, which allows us to reach out and let them know that we’re filing a claim. The sooner we see the police report, especially if there are discrepancies, the sooner we can get the ball rolling.”
Health and auto insurance information
“Especially important for the immediate care of our clients. We need both sources of information to ensure that bills are paid by your insurance provider in a timely manner, as opposed to dealing with a collections agency in the aftermath of a crash, especially when there are many moving parts involved. Also, you typically have a duty to report any type of crash to your insurance company, so providing us with the proper information not only allows us to follow protocol but also allow us to find out if you have MedPay or Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist coverage, all of which can be used to cover medical expenses under the right circumstances.”
“Pictures and video of a crash are indispensable, and in many cases, indisputable. If you have picture or video of the site of the crash, damage to your vehicle, any injuries—all of it puts you and your attorneys in a winnable position. In crash cases, it’s important to establish property damage and put together a visual of what happened, and as it relates to a jury, it’s always better to see something than to imagine what might have happened. Pictures and video are also important if someone suffers scarring and deformities, like a split lip, broken nose, missing teeth. We’ve had clients who required full dental reconstruction, and it’s thanks to pictures that we got them comprehensive compensation to cover costs.”
“We use this acronym frequently: Family Occupation Recreation Dreams. You should be prepared to talk about these things during your first meeting. It’s intended to give us a complete picture of who you are and what or whom might be affected by the results of a crash. Family, for example. Are you living with an elderly parent who requires lots of care? Are you responsible for children? As for occupation, are you missing work because of your injuries? Are you at risk of being terminated? Do you collect disability checks? We also want to know what you do for fun. Are you an athlete? Do you have hobbies? Are you part of any organizations, social leadership? Do you walk your dog every day? We want to know about your dreams and long-term plans. Did you have plans to climb Mount Everest? We want to know all these things to know exactly how your injuries might impact your life moving forward, and how we can tell your story in front of a jury. We had a case not long ago in which a client suffered a traumatic brain injury. She had dreams of doing medical research. Now her dream is basically altered forever. All that must be considered when we’re fighting to get you the compensation you deserve. In other words, be prepared to talk about a wide range of topics so we can get a complete picture of who you are and what you do.”
“No detail is too small or insignificant. Bring a list of any witnesses, especially anyone who isn’t listed on the police report. Bring medical records or discharge reports, letters from your insurance company, letters from the person who hit you, text messages, Facebook messages—anything related to the crash. If it’s a record or document, it matters.”