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HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR FREE CONSULTATION
If it is convenient, gather the information below prior to your free consultation. If we are going to meet via web conference, then use your smartphone to take pictures of the physical documents mentioned below. We will give you instructions on how to share them with us during our consultation.
If there are any tasks on the list below that you cannot complete with relative ease before our scheduled free consultation, then just leave those tasks for a later time. You have a lot on your plate right now, and we do not want you to feel overwhelmed. We will help you to do everything that needs to be done to get your personal injury claim successfully resolved.
- Timeline. Make a simple hand-drawn timeline of key events related to your case. Include significant events such as the date of the incident, dates of hospitalization, etc. Keep it simple. We will get into the details later. For now, the timeline will help everyone to see the big picture.
- Health Insurance. If you have health insurance, we will want a picture of the front and back of your insurance card.
- Police Reports. If your case involves a motor vehicle collision, then there is a good chance that there will be a police report pertaining to the incident. It usually takes the police a week (or more) to complete the report and make it available. If you already have the report, you should bring it. However, if you do not already have the report, you should not delay your consultation to get it. We can quickly obtain it ourselves.
- Incident Reports. If you were injured on the premises of a business, then the business may have prepared an incident report regarding the incident. If the business gave you a copy of the incident report, or any portion of it, you should bring it with you to your consultation. However, you should not request a copy of the incident report prior to your consultation.
- Your Auto Insurance Info. If your case involves a motor vehicle collision, then we will want to know about your own auto insurance coverage. ( We may need this information even if you were not at fault for the collision, and even if you were riding in someone else’s vehicle at the time of the collision.) Specifically, will want to see the policy’s “Dec Page,” which generally includes the following information:
- The named insured (i.e. the main policyholder) and any additional insureds
- Any excluded drivers
- Your policy number
- The length and effective dates of your policy term
- Year, make, model, and VIN of all cars on your policy
- Coverage types, which may include the following:
- Uninsured Motorist (“UM”)
- Underinsured Motorist (“UIM”)
- Medical Payments (“Med Pay”)
- Property Damage, Comprehensive, and Collision
- Coverage limits
- Liability Insurance Info. Liability insurance is insurance that covers the person(s) at fault for the incident that gave rise to your personal injury claim. It might be an auto policy or homeowners policy, depending upon the particular facts of your case. At the beginning of the case, the claimant (i.e., injured person or plaintiff) will generally have very little, if any, information about the liability insurance that may apply to the case.
In the case of a motor vehicle collision, the police report will generally identify the insurance companies that cover the vehicles involved in the collision. However, the police usually distribute the insurance information to the people involved in the collision sooner than that.
Bring whatever information you have regarding liability insurance to your consultation. You may have the name of the liability insurance carrier, and you may even have a policy and/or claim number. It is doubtful that you will have any liability coverage limit information. Do not contact the liability insurance carrier to try to get additional information.
Incident Scene Photos. If you have photos of the incident scene that help to explain what happened or who was at fault, please be prepared to share those with us.
Vehicle Damage Photos. If your case involves a motor vehicle collision, and you have photos of the vehicles that were involved in the collision, please be prepared to share those with us. These photos may prove to be important evidence because they may help to prove the strength of the forces involved in the collision.
Injury Photos. If you have photos that depict your injuries, please be prepared to share those with us. (E.g., photos of bruises, cuts, broken bones, etc.)
Medical Provider Info. Make a simple list of medical providers you have seen for your injuries. If you have a pre-existing medical condition that may be relevant to your injuries that were caused by the incident, then you should also bring a list of the medical providers who have treated that pre-existing condition.
WHAT NOT TO DO BEFORE YOUR FREE CONSULTATION
- Do not discuss your injuries or the details of the incident with any insurance companies.
The insurance companies will use anything you say against you. That includes the other side’s insurance company, as well as your own. Most people assume that their own insurance company is on their side, but that is wrong. You may not realize it yet, but your own insurance company certainly does realize that you may end up having an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim upon which it may be required to pay. You should not talk to any of the insurance companies until you have received legal advice because none of them are on your side. The issues you should most carefully avoid discussing with the insurance companies include your injuries and the details of the incident.
The nature, extent, and cause of the claimed injuries are some of the most important issues in a personal injury case. These issues must be handled with care, and that is what your lawyer will do. If you discuss your injuries with the insurance companies, there is a very good chance that you will unwittingly damage your case. Therefore, do not describe your injuries to the insurance companies or tell them anything about your treatment. Do not even tell them whether you have been injured.
In a similar vein, you should not discuss the details of the incident with any insurance companies. Do not discuss what you saw or who you believe was at fault.
If an insurance company representative tries to contact you, simply tell them that you will be consulting with an attorney, and that is all you are going to say at this time.
- Do not give any recorded statements.
You should not give any recorded statements to the insurance companies, the police, or anyone else. If someone requests a recorded statement, tell them that you will be consulting with an attorney, and that is all you are going to say at this time.
- Do not post anything on social media regarding the incident or your health.
It would really be best if you completely avoided posting on social media until after you have received legal advice. I have seen people post messages on social media announcing that they have been in a car accident that day, and also saying “fortunately, nobody was seriously injured.” That is a foolish thing to do because that person may soon discover that he or she was hurt worse than he or she initially realized.
- Do not make any important decisions about your case.
This instruction is purposefully vague because it is impossible to anticipate all of the decision-making scenarios that you may face in the aftermath of an injury-causing incident. If you sense that a decision with which you are faced pertaining to your injury claim may be important, then you should postpone it until after your consultation.