Meeting a lawyer for the first time can be nerve-wracking. You're already dealing with the stress of medical bills and car repairs, so you really don't need another potentially tiresome process on your plate. However, there's no need to worry. An excellent car accident lawyer will do everything they can to make this process as straightforward as possible as they take you through the steps we've outlined below.
7 Things to Expect When Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer
1. A Consultation
You need to schedule a free consultation with your chosen car accident attorney in Kansas City before you go any further with this case. You need to ensure you have an attorney you're comfortable with. You're going to work with this attorney for several weeks or months, so you want to be sure you find someone who makes you feel safe, heard, and supported throughout this case.
If you like a law firm but not the attorney you talked to, then ask for a consultation with a colleague. Most car accident attorneys won't charge for the initial consultation, so you can talk to numerous lawyers until you find someone you feel good about working with.
2. A Case Assessment
You may have had an online or telephone consultation with your lawyer. This was enough to lay the groundwork for you two to start working together, but you'll still need to go talk in person to go over your case.
You'll have to explain the facts about the accident, talk about the injuries you sustained, and discuss the damage done to your vehicle in the incident. This will help your lawyer start piecing together a case to get you the settlement you're entitled to.
3. A Q and A
Your lawyer will ask you questions after your case assessment to help them understand your situation better. They'll also try to find out how far along you got in this case before hiring them. Expect to answer things such as:
- Have you discussed this case with any insurance company representatives?
- Have you told friends, family, and first responders details of the accident?
- What health insurance and car insurance coverage do you have?
- Did anyone witness the accident, and did you collect their contact information?
If you have car repair estimates, medical bills, evidence of discussions with insurance companies and other parties, police reports, and photographs, then you'll be asked to share them at this time.
4. A Sharing Session
Next, you'll need to go into extreme detail about your case. You can't hold back any relevant information. If you're embarrassed by something, or if you don't think something is relevant, then you need to share it anyway. Every last little detail matters here. Your attorney isn't here to judge, and you're protected by attorney-client privilege even before hiring them.
You really need to give all the details as early as possible. If you're found to be holding information back, then it can come back to haunt you later if the truth comes out. This can damage your case even if you did nothing wrong.
5. A Discussion of Payment
Let's say your attorney's experience and workload allow them to take your case. Now you need to discuss up-front and out-of-pocket fees. Most personal injury and car accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means they don't charge upfront and will take their pay out of your settlement.
If you don't win a settlement, then you won't have to pay your attorney under these circumstances. However, you will likely receive compensation when working with an excellent car accident attorney.
6. A Medical Exam
If you were injured in your accident, then you'll need a full-body medical assessment from a physician who isn't your own. You require an unbiased party to carry out this examination just to be sure the injuries you sustained and the treatment you received were truly related to your car accident.
This is just a formality. Nobody truly thinks you're lying or fabricating your medical bill. However, you still need to have this report to help your case and get the compensation you're entitled to. The defense's insurance companies will often try to discredit the injuries you sustained and brush them off as pre-existing, so you need proof they're not.
7. An Investigation
Now you have all the basic pieces, it's time to start putting them together. Your attorney will begin investigating your case and the circumstances that led up to your accident. They'll talk to witnesses, examine the pre-accident condition of the vehicles involved based on maintenance records, and more.
Understanding the steps involved after meeting your attorney for the first time will help you feel more secure going into this case. Don't let your nerves get the better of you here. Your attorney is on your side, and they'll talk you through anything you're having trouble understanding as you work together going forward with this case.