Choosing an Attorney
After an accident, the first question you may ask yourself is, Do I Need A Personal Injury Attorney? A personal injury attorney will have special expertise, experience and certification that can make an enormous impact on the outcome of your claim. A personal injury attorney should have trial experience, negotiation experience, knowledge of medical terms and processes and of course, a deep understanding of Texas negligence law. It is likely that you will be going through this injury claim process for the first time, and you will need someone to guide you who handles such cases every day.
Once you understand the importance of having legal representation throughout your personal injury claim process, your next question is likely, How Do I Choose A Personal Injury Attorney? There are a number of factors that go into selecting the right attorney for you. These factors include the attorney's expertise, certification, reputation, references, responsiveness and even personality. Here are some tips to help you find a personal injury attorney that can best represent you.
Know your case
An attorney can determine the possible outcome of your case based on the information you provide in an initial meeting. In order to make this discussion as productive as possible, you should come prepared. This involves writing out all the facts about your claim, including dates, times, conversations, and other aspects that may be important to your case. In addition, you will want to provide as much documentation as possible, including medical bills, diagnostic reports or test results. You will also want to provide any photos taken by you or others that may be relevant to the case.
When you have been injured in an accident due to someone else's negligence, a big question you may have is, Can I Afford An Attorney?This is a reasonable concern, since attorneys are generally paid quite well for the amount of education, training and certification they undergo in order to practice law. To help potential clients worried about the cost of legal representation, some attorneys will take on cases on a Contingent Fee Representation basis. In brief, Contingent Fee Representation means that the attorney works on the client's behalf without any fees, getting paid only if the client's case is awarded. In some cases, the attorney may also cover basic costs incurred throughout your case. Typical Contingent Fee Representation pays the attorney one-third of the client's awarded compensation.
Personal Injury Checklist
Right After the Accident:
Immediately after your accident, there are a number of things to do right away to support any claims you may decide to make: These important first steps include:
- Get Information: Obtain the other driver’s name, address, phone number and email address. Also, get the driver's insurance information, including company, policy number and contact information. You can photograph the driver's insurance card, driver's license or license plate.
- Get Witnesses: Write the names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of any witness to your accident.
- Get Photos: Photograph any damage to your vehicle, the vehicle of the other driver, and any personal injuries you may have suffered.
- Get Police: You should always call the police after an accident, then obtain the police report. This helps to document any wrongdoing of the other driver and to resolve any disputes about what happened.
- Get Medical Attention: It is important to seek medical attention right away to document your condition right after the accident.
In the Days and Weeks After the Accident:
In the following days and weeks after your accident, you will need to keep track of dates, times, conversations, activities and expenses related to your accident. These may include:
- Medical Expenses: You will want to keep a record of any emergency room visits, hospital stays, doctor appointments, physical therapy, mental health visits or dentist appointments. Keep receipts for any medical treatments, prescriptions or over-the-counter medications.
- Auto Repair Expenses: Before repairing your vehicle, get multiple estimates in addition to any estimates provided by the insurance company. Keep any receipts for repairs, and photograph any progress on the repairs.
- Other Expenses: Keep any records or receipts of anything that might be related to your personal injury (rental car, childcare, etc.) just in case you need it later on.
- Missed Work or School: Keep track of any missed work or school, including communications with bosses or teachers. Note any lost wages or lost opportunities related to your injury.
- Contact Witnesses: It is important to reach out to witnesses to obtain statements as early as possible, while the accident is fresh on their mind.
- Photos: Document the progress of your injury with photographs, creating a visual log of your suffering.
- Other Damages: You may want to write down each day any thoughts of any pain, suffering or mental anguish related to your injury, as such feelings may be difficult to prove without documentation.
- Don't admit fault at the scene of your accident. You may not know entirely what happened, and it is best to avoid such statements.
- Don't stop any medical treatments or therapies until completed as prescribed by your doctor.
- Don't provide any written or oral statements without first asking your attorney.
- Don't settle your case without first understanding the full extent of your injuries.
- Don't give away the only copy of receipts or records (make photo copies)
- DO seek out a personal injury attorney to ensure the best possible compensation for your injuries and damages.