Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney

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I Just Want What’s Fair

You’ve been in a car accident. It’s been a struggle to get back to your normal life. You’re in pain. You don’t have your car. You’ve been to your doctor and talked to your insurance adjuster. They said they “hear you,” but you feel like no one is really listening and helping.

You turn to a personal injury attorney to help you navigate the path to recovery. You wonder what to expect when hiring a personal injury attorney.

 

Preparing for the Initial Phone Call

Before the phone call, have this information available:

  • Your full legal name;
  • The name of anyone in the car with you;
  • The name of the owner of the car if he or she was not in the car;
  • The name of the other driver;
  • The name of any passengers in the other car;
  • The names of both insurance carriers;
  • The date of the accident; and
  • The name of the law enforcement agency that made the accident report.

 

The Initial Phone Call

In your first phone call to the law office, you likely will not talk with an attorney. One of the law firm’s staff will gather the information you prepared then ask you some brief questions about the accident and the injuries you might have suffered.

During the phone call, the law firm will run a conflict of interest check to make sure there is not a conflict that would limit the law firm’s ability to fully represent you in your case.

The law firm will make an appointment for you to meet with an attorney to discuss your case. The law firm will also likely send paperwork for you to complete. Be sure to complete it and return it to the law firm prior to your scheduled appointment with the attorney.

 

Preparing for Your Appointment

Before your appointment, gather the following information to provide to the attorney:

  • The Texas Peace Officer’s Crash Report;
  • Photos of the vehicles involved and the accident scene;
  • The names of both auto insurance carriers and the policy numbers;
  • The name and contact information of your health care providers; and
  • Your driver’s license.

Your driver’s license will help the attorney obtain a copy of your medical records through a notarized Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) release. Anotary must be provided with a form of identification before notarizing a HIPAA release.

 

The Appointment

The attorney will discuss your accident, your injuries, and answer questions. Expect this meeting to last between an hour to an hour and a half. Towards the end of the first meeting, the attorney will explain the terms of a fee and representation agreement.

There are three types of fee agreements:

  • Contingency
    • The most common fee agreement in auto accident cases.
    • The attorney only receives payment if the client recovers money.
    • The attorney receives a percentage of the money the client recovers as payment for his or her services.
  • Hourly
    • The attorney charges the client for each hour (and portion of an hour) that the attorney works on the case.
    • A client pays the attorney regardless of the outcome of the case.
  • Flat Fee
    • A client pays a specific, total fee for the attorney’s services.
    • A client pays the attorney regardless of the outcome of the case.

Ask any questions that you have about the fee and representation agreement while meeting with the attorney.

 

Signing the Fee Agreement

Signing the fee and representation agreement without hesitation is the path of least resistance. You just want all this to be over. You’ve gone through the process. You’re tired. You want to get your life on track and start feeling better.

But take a moment. Ask yourself if the attorney you just talked to was listening. It is important that you can trust the attorney, the attorney will be honest with you, and the attorney will act in your best interests.

Feel comfortable and confident in who you are hiring to represent you before signing the fee and representation agreement. If you are not comfortable or confident with the attorney for any reason, you should decline the representation, and call another law firm.

It should be noted that this is not an exhaustive list of all information a personal injury attorney may need to represent you in an auto accident claim but rather a brief overview of some common information requested by personal injury attorneys.  Additionally, it should be noted that although this is a common procedure for hiring a personal injury attorney for damages arising from a car accident, the process may differ among law firms.

 

–Authored by William “Bill” Benda, Esq.,

Matthew Harris Law, PLLC – Civil Litigation Division

1001 Main Street, Suite 200, Lubbock, Texas, 79401-3309

Tel: (806) 702-4852 | Fax: (800) 985-9479

[email protected]