What to Expect
The first time you meet with your Chicago personal injury attorney about your case, you may be asked to complete an intake interview. The purpose of the intake interview is information gathering. You’ll be asked a series of questions regarding the circumstances of your accident, including what happened leading up to, during, and after the accident. You’ll also be asked about the injuries you sustained in the accident, and how they affect your daily life. Your attorney will also want to know about any potential witnesses to the accident and whether you can provide their names and/or contact information.
Beyond the accident itself, you may be asked to provide some information about your employment background. This is especially true if the accident caused you to miss time from work, since you may have a claim for lost wages. You may also be asked about your insurance coverage and your medical history, including whether you’ve ever sustained prior injuries to the same parts of your body.
It’s important to be very candid during the intake process. This will allow your attorney to get a full perspective of the potential strengths and weaknesses of your case, which will in turn result in you receiving the most effective representation possible. Truthfulness and candor are especially crucial when it comes to discussing your medical history. Keep in mind that everything you discuss is protected by the attorney-client privilege and will remain confidential (even if you ultimately end up hiring a different law office to handle your case).
During the interview, you may be asked to provide certain evidentiary items and/or documentation relating to your case. It might be helpful to create a list of the requested items as they are brought up by your lawyer so that you can provide them the next time you come back to the office.
Once the intake process is complete, your attorney may give you a preliminary evaluation of the strength of your case based on what he has heard from you.
Your attorney will likely ask you about the status of your injuries from the accident in question, and encourage you to continue seeking treatment as scheduled if you are still suffering. It goes without saying that if you cease medical treatment but continue to pursue legal relief on the basis of being “injured,” this will undermine your credibility and weaken your case.
If you ultimately decide to retain the attorney’s services for your personal injury matter (and he has agreed to take on your case), you’ll be presented with a proposed retainer agreement. The agreement is a contract that outlines your obligations to the lawyer, as well as the lawyer’s obligations to you. The terms of the retainer agreement should be fully explained to you before you sign. Depending on the type of case, it may include details such as whether a contingency fee is involved, whether a deposit is required, and/or whether installment payments are to be made (note- if it’s a personal injury case it will likely be handled on a contingency fee basis, which means the attorney receives a fee only if your case is successful).
You may be asked to sign HIPAA forms authorizing the release of your medical information from the medical providers mentioned during your interview. This will give the law office permission to obtain copies of your medical records from these providers.
After your meeting, your attorney will contact the appropriate insurance company or companies involved in your claim and explain that he has been retained to represent you in connection with the case. He will explain that all future communication and/or correspondence should go directly through his office. From this point forward, the insurance company is prohibited from contacting you directly about your case, and you have no obligation to respond to any communication from them.
Helpful Tips for Preparing for Your Meeting
There are a number of things you can do to prepare for your initial meeting with your lawyer. While not absolutely necessary, they will help expedite the process once you arrive at the office.
- If your attorney requested that you fill out certain paperwork in advance, be sure to complete the necessary documents and bring them with you on the date of your appointment.
- Gather up all important documents and/or evidentiary items (i.e. physical evidence, photographs, video recordings, medical records, bills, receipts, invoices, reports, previously filed legal documents, etc.) and organize them into a file or folder so that your attorney can go through everything and make all necessary copies for his own file.
- Make sure to bring one or two forms of government photo ID with you to the office (license, passport, etc.). Your attorney will need to make copies for his file. The photo ID’s should bear your current, full legal name and should not be expired. If you have any other documents that may be relevant to your case such as a birth certificate, name-change court order, marriage certificate, etc., then bring copies of those things as well.
- Type up a brief summary of your accident and the resulting injuries. If possible, include any relevant information such as dates, street names, witness information, medical providers, etc. Although it’s not necessary, consider preparing your own medical chronology that clearly lays out what treatment you received. This can end up being very helpful to your attorney especially if your case involves extensive treatment from many different medical providers over a long period of time.
- If you believe you may have a claim for lost wages, gather items such as pay stubs and tax documents. You may also want to go back and verify how much time you missed from work so that the exact amount of lost wages can be calculated. Don’t worry if this number is not exact.
- If you have a language barrier, be sure to notify the office in advance of your appointment so that the proper accommodations can be made for you.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an accident, call The Law Offices of Haytham Faraj, PLLC at (800) 809-1581 or (312) 635-0800 to speak with an experienced Chicago personal injury attorney. Your initial consultation is free.