Margery* had never hired a personal injury lawyer before.
She sat at her computer, paralyzed, staring at the Google results for her search, “Atlanta personal injury attorney.” There were so many options – too many. She didn’t know where to start.
She’d been T-boned on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard the week before by an uninsured drunk driver, spent four days in the hospital, and was looking down the barrel at three months of recovery.
She couldn’t work her warehouse job while her broken leg was healing, and she didn’t know how she would pay for a lawyer – let alone hire one.
Most people hope they will never need an attorney, but sometimes life has other plans. Hiring a personal injury lawyer in the Atlanta metro area for the first time can be intimidating, but don’t let that stop you.
If you’re meeting with a lawyer for the first time, here’s what you can expect and how you can prepare:
One of the main fears I hear from new clients is that they will be charged before they’ve decided an attorney is right for them. People envision having a first meeting with an attorney and then immediately being handed an itemized bill. Movies and TV shows have pushed the satirical idea for years, but unfortunately, it has made people afraid to consult legal professionals.
Most law firms would never do this. Atlanta’s Davis Injury Firm, like many others, offers a free one-hour consultation for new clients. You can request your free consultation to speak to a personal injury attorney on our website here.
When you meet with an attorney, be sure to bring any records that back-up your claim. These could include:
Once you’ve decided to hire an attorney, you will have to fill out some paperwork to make it official. Among other things, you’ll need to sign a contract. Make sure to go over the terms and ask questions if any part of it is confusing.
Generally, personal injury attorneys are paid a percentage of your settlement or financial award if you win your case.
There may be other papers to file that are specific to your case. For instance, you may need to sign releases so your doctors can share your medical records with your attorney.
To build your case, your lawyer will need as much information as possible about the situation. They will need to know details about your accident, your treatment plan, how long your recovery is expected to take, if a full recovery is possible, your current pain level, the cost of medical treatment to date, any tasks you are unable to do since being injured, any other ways the accident affected your personal or professional life.
Be honest with your attorney – no detail is too embarrassing or unimportant. Remember that your lawyer is bound by client-attorney privilege, and the details you share with them will not be spread far and wide.
Once your prospective lawyer has been given the details of your case, they will probably be able to give you their opinion about it. In some cases, they may want to do more research before determining if they think your case is viable, but they will likely have a preliminary opinion.
Based on the details provided, they will let you know if they think your case will win in court or if you should aim to settle out of court. They may also estimate the amount in damages you will be seeking. “Damages” are the monetary award for winning a lawsuit; in most cases, this covers medical expenses, loss-of-work expenses, long-term limitations, and even court costs.
The attorney may want to take your case, or if they feel they are not the best person for the job, they may be able to refer you to another lawyer who is better suited to your needs.
Margery’s first call was to Attorney Betty Davis, and after our consultation, she told me a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She had an agonizing road to recovery ahead of her, but she felt better knowing an expert would be leading her legal charge.
She decided to interview a few other firms before signing-on with us, which I always encourage. You will likely work with your lawyer for a year or more, and it’s important to choose someone you trust and feel comfortable around.
You don’t have to navigate the murky waters of the legal system yourself. Even if you think you can’t afford it, reach out to a legal team for a free consultation.
If you were injured in the Atlanta metro area and believe another party is responsible, contact the Davis Injury Firm right now. Our personal injury law team is dedicated to achieving justice for our clients and you don’t pay until we win.
*Name changed to protect client privacy
About the Author Betty Nguyen Davis is an Atlanta attorney who solely focuses her practice on plaintiff’s personal injury work. Betty is consistently recognized by her peers as a top attorney in Georgia by Super Lawyers and Georgia Trend and is highly recommended by her clients as a aggressive and persistent, yet caring and accessible attorney.