Accidents and injuries by definition are emergency situations. While protecting life, health, and property (in that order) are priorities, the legal action needs to take place immediately thereafter.
We like to set up our initial consultations with new personal injury clients as soon as possible. But before new clients come in, they have typically been bombarded by calls from insurance companies, body shops, rental car companies, friends, families and medical bill collectors. Retaining our firm for representation can take some of the pressure off, and this is one of the reasons we like to see new clients immediately.
In the midst of the confusion, however, it can be common to forget documents and information which are needed for the consultation. This makes the initial consultation less productive for both lawyer and client.
As far as what to bring, as a general rule, it is better to be over inclusive rather than under inclusive. Put another way, we can always weed through your paperwork and information when you arrive at the firm and make photocopies. Doing so does not necessarily prolong your visit. Frequently, we simply throw everything in our high speed photocopier and return the originals to you immediately. So don’t sweat the details.
Here is a partial list of items, which you may need to locate and bring in to your personal injury consultation:
- Police accident report or accident information exchange sheet;
- Declarations pages from all automobile insurance policies in your household;
- Letters from insurance companies;
- Photographs of damage and injuries (frequently on cell phones and in other electronic media);
- Medical paperwork;
- Discharge summaries;
- Health insurance cards;
- Billing statements;
- Receipts for prescriptions, medical assistive devices, parking, mileage, heating pads, over-the-counter medicines, etc.; and
- Even scraps of paper with names of adjusters, claim numbers, etc.
As you can see, there really is no end to the kind of information which is useful at the beginning of a personal injury case. Providing this information allows our lawyers and paralegals to dig deeper, locate witnesses, and obtain the documentation that will be needed to achieve the best possible result.
Accident injury victims need to keep a cool head under difficult circumstances. While managing the trauma of their circumstances, they can really help themselves down the road by securing the proper documentation. In doing so, they not only help themselves but help their personal injury lawyers in the job ahead.