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What to expect when meeting a car accident attorney

Meeting an attorney for the first time after you've been in a car accident can feel a little intimidating.

This is what you can expect:

1. Your initial consultation may be over the phone.

There's nothing wrong with that approach. Many attorneys do it to save time and to make it easier on clients who are dealing with serious injuries. Some attorneys may come to your house instead, but the same information can be gathered over the phone just as easily.

2. The attorney wants to hear about the accident.

The attorney needs to get as accurate a picture as he or she can of the accident. Take your time, tell your story and do your best to answer any questions.

3. The attorney needs to hear about your injuries.

The attorney needs to hear about your injuries, where you were treated and how soon after the accident treatment started. He or she may have questions about your insurance and the insurance information that the other driver gave you. Try to have the information given to you about the other driver's car insurance and the police report number handy.

4. Your attorney will decide whether or not to take your case.

Sometimes attorneys refuse to take a case -- usually if they think they will have a hard time winning it. If so, the attorney will probably tell you why he or she thinks that the case is going to be difficult.

5. The attorney will explain his or her fee schedule.

Most car accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis -- which means that they only get paid if they are able to secure compensation for you. (That's also why an attorney will turn down a case he or she thinks may not be winnable.) Be prepared for a little bit of sticker shock -- it's normal for a contingency fee to be 1/3 of whatever you receive in compensation.

At that point -- congratulations! You've now hired your car accident attorney. He or she will also likely explain what happens next and the process used in his or her office for staying in touch -- whether you'll hear directly from the attorney or a paralegal most of the time. Either way, you now have a good, first-line defense against the insurance company and their adjuster -- all that communication now goes through your new attorney.

Source: FindLaw, "Meeting with an Injury Attorney," accessed June 16, 2017

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