Preparing To Meet With A Personal Injury Lawyer
It can be a big waste of time for both you and the Canadian personal injury lawyer if you are not prepared for your first meeting. Being unprepared can end up costing you money, because it will take longer for the lawyer you hire to get up to speed on your personal injury matter.
The personal injury lawyer will want to know who you are and how you can be contacted, and a little about your personal background. Sometimes, a Canadian personal injury lawyer will also try to make a first meeting more productive by sending you a questionnaire to fill out. If this happens, be sure to fill it out and send it in to the lawyer's office before the meeting. Also send along copies of any available documents that may be requested in the questionnaire.
Before you get too far into a meeting or conversation, the personal injury lawyer is going to want to know about possible conflicts of interest. So bring the names of the company or individuals involved, including potential witnesses. If the personal injury lawyer or the lawyer's firm represents anyone on "the other side of the fence," he or she will have a conflict and will usually not be able to represent you.
Written documentation of your injury and damages is especially important in a personal injury setting. Even if a Canadian personal injury lawyer doesn't ask for documentation beforehand, it's still a good idea to bring a copy of all documents relevant to your situation to the meeting:
- Copies of police reports or accident reports detailing your injury
- Copies of hospital, doctor and therapy records
- Bills from medical care providers
- Information regarding insurance coverage of your medical bills
- Reports from doctors regarding your diagnosis and prognosis
- Information about anticipated future medical costs
- Information regarding work you missed as a result of your injury
- A listing of all the ways your life has been affected by your injury
- A calendar, with all the important dates (date of injury, dates of surgery or other treatment and so forth)
- A description of any interaction with insurance companies
- Copies of correspondence with insurance companies
- Copies of any claims already filed with your employer or an insurance company
Questions To Ask Your Potential Personal Injury Lawyer
Prepare a list of questions to take with you to your first meeting with your personal injury lawyer. In theory, no question is too silly to ask. Keep in mind, though, that you don't want to scare a lawyer out of representing you. Some questions you might ask a personal injury lawyer would include:
- How many personal injury trials has the personal injury lawyer handled? Of those, how many did he or she win?
- What percentage of the Canadian lawyer's practice is in the personal injury area of expertise that you need?
- How long has the personal injury lawyer been in practice?
- Does the personal injury lawyer usually represent injured people or defendants?
- What problems does the personal injury lawyer foresee with your case?
- What are your options?
- How would the personal injury lawyer go about handling your situation? What is the process?
- How long will it take to bring the matter to a conclusion?
- How would the personal injury lawyer charge for his or her services?
- What types of experts would the personal injury lawyer use to prove your case?
- Is there a time limit (called a "statute of limitations") by which you must settle the case or file a lawsuit?
- Would the personal injury lawyer handle the case personally or would it be passed on to some other lawyer or support staff in the firm? If other lawyers or staff may do some of the work, could you meet them?
You'll want to ask how the personal lawyer would charge for his or her services:
- Would a contingency fee be possible?
- What will be the cost of expert witnesses necessary to develop the case?
- What other out of pocket expenses does the personal injury lawyer anticipate?
- Does the personal injury lawyer advance out of pocket costs?
- Can the Canadian law firm financially afford to "carry" the case if it's necessary to go to trial and wait for payment on a judgment?
- Would there be a retainer payable up front?
- Would any unused portion be refundable?
Ask to be provided with a copy of the personal injury lawyer's fee agreement and have it explained to you before deciding on hiring the personal injury lawyer or the lawyer's law firm. You may end up paying a lot of money to the personal injury lawyer who you retain, so make sure you understand what you are signing up for.
A great way to start your search for a local Canadian Personal Injury lawyer is at Canadian-Lawyers.ca. Go to the 'Find a Lawyer' search box that appears on the right hand side of this screen to start your lawyer search. Type in Personal Injury or the name of the law firm, the city and the province that you are looking to hire a lawyer from, and click on the 'Search Now' button. This will generate a list of local Canadian Personal Injury lawyers.