You signed up for a free online case evaluation. Now, you’re waiting for that phone call where you tell the lawyer what happened to you. You’re not sure what to expect, so naturally, you feel nervous. What questions will you have to answer? How can you tell if this is the right attorney to handle your claim? We’ll explain what you can expect during this free phone call, and how to prepare for your first in-person consultation.
What to Expect During Your Initial Phone Call
The lawyer will call you shortly after you complete your free online claim evaluation. (Typically, this happens before the end of the next business day.) Please answer all questions honestly — this phone call is required to determine if you have a valid case! Typical questions will ask you to confirm your contact information, symptoms, whether or not another lawyer’s already helping you, etc. If it appears you have a case, then you’ll move on to the next step. The lawyer will ask you to make an appointment in order to meet and discuss your case in person. Once you schedule it, start gathering the documents below to bring along for your face-to-face consultation.
Checklist: What Documents to Bring for Your In-Person Consultation
We’ve created this checklist so you know exactly what to bring to your in-person consultation. Don’t worry about anything on this list you don’t recognize — it might not apply to your case.
- Lost wage documents. This includes things such as pay stubs, bank records showing direct deposits, etc. If you’re self-employed and use an app or software to track payments, print those. If you took PTO or unpaid leave from work, can HR print those dates for you? Bring everything to your in-person consultation.
- Medical receipts. Anything related to your drug or medical device injury’s probably relevant. Doctor and hospital bills automatically fall into this category, but so does prescription medications. If possible, go to your pharmacist and request a print-out showing all prescriptions filled during the past year. Make sure it includes pick-up dates, purchase price and any other relevant details (i.e., dosage, frequency).
- Photos, video, x-rays or other visible evidence showing your injury/symptoms. Bring any visual evidence that shows when your health problems started and how they’ve changed over time to your consultation. If needed, the lawyer can probably make copies and let you keep the original media.
- Medical injury/symptom diary. If you’re not keeping one now, it’s time to start. You can write in a physical journal, or store entries online. Document your daily side effects and symptoms, including your current pain level and emotional state. Did your symptoms force you to miss work, for example? Are you sad/depressed? Does it affect personal or professional relationships? If possible, record any discussions between you and your doctor during appointments.
Other Tips to Make Your In-Person Consultation Go Smoothly
First of all, don’t be nervous! Lawyers meet with people in similar situations to yours all the time. That said, you may have limited time to discuss your claim and review evidence in person. So, here are a few other tips to help you walk in feeling confident and prepared:
- Write down or type out your story in chronological order. Imagine you’re telling a complete stranger what happened to you. Keep it short, direct and to the point. The best way to ensure you do this it to limit your text to one typed page only.
- Describe what you want to happen so the lawyer knows what exactly you expect from filing a claim. Again, keep it short and sweet; one sentence is enough. For example: “I want Johnson & Johnson to put a cancer warning on all their talc-based powders and $X in damages.”
- Bring a list of people other than your doctors who may wish to testify or serve as witnesses. Don’t come to your in-person consultation without this list, if possible! It will help the lawyer confirm there are no conflicts of interest for handling your case. Here’s an example that illustrates why this is so important. Imagine you and the lawyer use the same primary care physician who prescribed the drug that almost killed you. Obviously, that’s a clear conflict of interest that would prevent the lawyer from representing you. Ruling out any conflicts of interest beforehand ensures no roadblocks can stop your claim’s progress once your case is underway.
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.