During your first meeting you need to be prepared to explain to the attorney you are meeting with why you believe you have a meritorious lawsuit. This means explaining the extent of your injury and your medical treatment as well as who you feel is responsible for your injury and why you believe that they are responsible.
Since it is easy to forget all the facts when meeting with a doctor or a lawyer, especially after suffering a serious injury, it is best if you prepare some notes that list everything that has been painful or hurting in any way, as well as how your employment and personal life has been affected since your accident, so that you do not forget to mention anything.
You should also have a list of all of the the names and addresses of the hospitals, doctors and therapists where you were treated for your injuries.
If you had a prior medical condition, for example, if you already had a bad back and have now aggravated your back so that it is worse than it was before, then you must let your attorney know about all of your prior accidents, injuries, and medical providers so that all your medical records can be obtained and all your present injuries set forth so that they can be compensated. If your lawyer is not told about any of your prior accidents, injuries, or medical providers then your attorney and your experts will not be prepared and will be taken by surprise.
You must tell your attorney the truth about the facts of your case. No matter what the facts are your attorney can try and see if you are entitled to obtain compensation for your injuries under the laws of negligence in New York that apply to your personal injury case. Every case has a fact pattern that is unique to that case. No two personal injury cases are exactly alike. It is the lawyer’s job to take the facts and apply the law to those facts. Being able to shape the law and the facts to a successful conclusion is what makes a good lawyer better than his peers.
If people try to lie they are often found out by the other sides’ insurance companies attorneys and investigators and once caught in any lie your case will be lost as it will either be dismissed by the Judge or by a jury. Your credibility is the most important thing you can have for your case.
You must tell your attorney if you have given any written or oral statements or have ever spoken to any insurance lawyer, investigator or adjuster for the other side before your meeting with the attorney.
In a medical malpractice case if you have a copy of your medical records and films then you should bring a copy to the meeting. If you do not have a copy of your medical records and films then you will sign an authorization and the attorney can then obtain a copy of your medical records from the hospital and from your doctors.
You should be aware that a lawyer may not start a medical malpractice case in New York without first having the medical records reviewed by an appropriate medical expert. It is only after a medical expert reviews the medical records and provides an expert opinion that your medical provider committed malpractice that caused your injury that the lawyer may start your case.
In a motor vehicle accident you should bring a copy of your police accident report and any pictures showing the damage to the cars involved. If you have a copy of your medical records and films then you should bring a copy to the meeting and if you do not have a copy then you will sign an authorization and the attorney can then obtain a copy of your medical records. You should also bring a copy of your own insurance policy face sheet so that your attorney can review what coverage you have. For example, if you need to make an Under-insurance claim then your attorney needs to notify your insurance company as soon as it is reasonably possible.
If it is a slip and fall case then you should bring photographs that show the condition that caused your injury and it is best to have close up photographs as well as photos that put the defect into perspective within its general location and also make sure that the location or address can be clearly identified in the photographs.
If you know of any witnesses that would be helpful to proving your case, either with regard to the liability issues or as to your injuries, then you should give the witness(es) name(s) and address(es) to the attorney so that the witness’ name and address can be exchanged with the other side. If the witness’ name and address is not exchanged with the other side then they will not be permitted to be called to testify on your behalf at trial.
If you are receiving or have been the past recipient of Worker’s Compensation, Medicare, Medicaid or Welfare then you should give that information to your attorney as it may affect how quickly your case can get processed in the Court and some money that you recover may have to be repaid.
After you have discussed the facts of the case and have had a chance to ask the questions you have, then two (2) decisions will have to be made:
1) Do you want to retain this attorney and this law firm to represent you? And,
2) Will the lawyer agree to accept your case?
Will the lawyer accept your case? Not all law firms handle every type of case. Some law firms do not handle medical malpractice cases and some firms handle only such cases. Some firms will only handle serious cases with very serious injuries so that your case may be just too small for them to handle. There are many reasons why the attorney you meet with may decline to accept your case. If that happens you should not be discouraged but rather you should seek meetings with other law firms which may agree to accept your case.
When you retain your lawyer you will also be given some advice and information:
Not to discuss the facts of the case with anyone else or give anyone any statements about the case without the attorney being present.
Not to place anything on Social media, such as Facebook or Linked In, about your case. It is best that you just cancel your Social media accounts totally while your case is pending. You can read Facebook: To Post or Not to Post? our article on the law in New York and on the hazards of Social media when you bring a lawsuit by clicking here. Just remember that anything you post can and will be read by the other side and will be used against you.
To keep your attorney up to date on any changes in your contact information such as your address or phone numbers, of your injuries, your medical treatment or changes in your employment status.
You will be required to appear at your deposition where you will be questioned by the other side about your injuries and about “liability", which is to explain why the other side is responsible for your injuries. Your attorney will meet with you before your deposition to tell you what to expect and to review the facts of your case and the questions you will likely be asked.
You will also be asked to appear for a physical examination by a doctor hired and selected by the other side that will examine you, then write a report and if your case proceeds to trial will be prepared to testify against you at trial. The purpose of this physical examination is that generally this Doctor will try to minimize your injuries by saying either that you were not injured at all, that you have fully recovered from your injuries, or if you are still injured that your injuries are not that bad.
You will be asked to sign a number of forms, starting with a retainer hiring the attorney to represent you. This retainer spells out the agreement between you and your attorney and also sets the fee that the attorney will receive if your case is brought to a successful conclusion. All New York personal injury attorneys charge basically the same fee and work on a contingency fee basis which percentage is to be paid only if you win your case.
You will also be asked to sign various forms, including: HIPAA authorizations so that your attorney and also the other side can obtain your medical records; if you are receiving or have been the past recipient of Worker’s Compensation, Medicare, Medicaid or Welfare authorizations so that your attorney and the other side can obtain those records; a Notice of Client Rights that explains your rights when you bring a lawsuit; an IRS authorization to obtain your tax records if you have been paying taxes and are claiming to have suffered lost earnings, and possibly some other forms as well.
If you or a loved one were injured and are in need of legal assistance, call Jaroslawicz & Jaros at 212-227-2780, or toll free in New York 800.269.2780, or submit an online questionnaire. The initial consultation is free of charge, and if we agree to handle your case, we will work on a contingency fee basis, which means we get paid for our services only if there is a monetary recovery of funds. In many cases, a lawsuit must be filed before an applicable expiration date, known as a statute of limitations. Please call to ensure that you do not waive your right to compensation. Or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.