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Initial steps in a personal injury lawsuit

If you were injured in an accident, you may have decided to pursue your legal options. This usually involves meeting with an attorney to determine whether you have a potentially winnable case that can net you a settlement or judgment.

Most personal injury attorneys offer free initial consultations to their prospective clients. At that meeting, you should be prepared to discuss your accident and provide the attorney with a copy of the police report, if you have one.

The attorney will listen to your version of the events and probably ask you a few questions about your injuries and subsequent treatment. If at that point the two of you decide to proceed with filing a personal injury lawsuit, you will need to sign a contract wherein you agree that this attorney will be representing you in this incident.

You will also likely have to sign medical releases so your attorney is able to get reports and medical records from your doctor about your treatment after the accident.

After this initial meeting, you should continue with the treatment recommended by your doctor for your accident. Failing to follow up with post-accident care can damage a case, as the defendant's attorney can — rightly — point out that you must not have been too injured if you didn't need to go back to the doctor.

After this initial flurry of activity between you and your attorney, he or she probably will not need to get in touch with you for several months, or at least until your treatment has concluded and your attorney can prepare the claim for damages.

In the meanwhile, it's vital that you not discuss the particulars of your accident with anyone but your attorney in order to keep stray remarks from being misconstrued and harming your chances for a significant financial recovery.

Source: Findlaw, "Meeting with an Injury Attorney," accessed Oct. 28, 2016

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