Many lawyers, including myself, offer a free consultation to discuss your car accident before you make the decision to actualy retain an attorney. This consultation will involve the attorney asking you several questions about your accident to get a general understanding of what is going on. Often times, I feel as if people don’t really know what to expect during this consolation and why the attorney is asking certain questions. This article will address some of the general questions an attorney is likely to ask you during your consultation and the reason why they are important.
1) Where Did The Accident Occur?
This is a common first question most attorneys will ask a prospective client who was involved in a car accident. The reason is because attorneys are only licensed to practice in a specific state. Thus, if the accident occurred outside of the state in which the attorney is licensed to practice, they will not be able to represent you in that state and will need to refer you to an attorney who can help. For example, I am only licensed to practice in South Carolina and I cannot, on my own, handle a case outside of South Carolina. There are exceptions where an attorney can be admitted with co-counsel on a limited basis, but nevertheless you will need an attorney who is licensed in the state where the accident occurred. I am always happy to provide a referral to other attorneys I strongly recommend.
2) How Did The Accident Occur?
An attorney is going to ask you some general questions about how the accident occurred, who was involved, where you were coming to and from and what happened immediately prior to, during and after the accident. Besided the obvious reasons why an attorney would ask these questions, from a legal standpoint they are trying to analyze liability. Specifically, they are trying to determine if more than one party was at fault, if you could have possibily been at fault or whether there is any unobvious third-party entity at fault. The attorney is also trying to determine any potential witnesses that might exist so they can develop an initial plan to investigate the accident.
3) What Are Your Injuries and Medical Bills?
Obviously, your injuries are important to know to get an understanding of your current condition and kind of medical treatment will be needed moving forward. While this is an obvious question, what the attorney really means when they are asking about your medical bills is the total amount of your medical expenses, not just what you were billed after your health insurance contributed. Often times however, I understand that the client may not know what their full amount of medical bills are since they may have been billed from multiple providers. This is yet another reason why an experienced auto accident attorney can help you fully investigate and analyze your claim. My advice is to at least know what medical providers you have treated with or received bills from before you meet with an attorney
4) Do You Have Health Insurance?
You may wonder why an attorney needs to know if you have health insurance or not since it may seem logical that the potnetial defendant (the person responsible for the accident) should be paying your medical bills. However, I always advise potential clients to submit their medical bills to their health insurance company. While it may not seem fair, you will benefit in the longrun. The reason being is that the law allows you to analyze your claim based on the full value of your medical expenses, not just what you paid after your health insurance coverages. In short, if you submit your bills to your health insurance, it will increase the overall value of your claim and allow you to put more money in your own pocket at the conclusion of your case.
5) Did You Miss Any Time Form Work?
It is important for an attorney to know whether or not you are currently working and have any means of income for a couple of reasons. First, it could take several months or even a couple of years before your case settles. So, if you have no means of income at the moment, it will be helpful for your attorney to know what options they have to assist you until your claim settles. Also, if you have lost time from work due to your accident, you are entitled to compensation for lost wages. Your attorney will need to know who your employer is so they can obtain the necessary documents to prove your claim for lost wages.
6) What Kind Of Auto Insurance Do You Have?
Depending on the severity of your injuries and medical treatment, this can be one of the most important things for an attorney to know. While you may not think it matters what your automobile insurance coverage is because the Defendant should be paying, your own insurance can be used to cover expenses when the defendant’s insurance is not enough. Under South Carolina law, you are only required to have $25,000.00 in liability insurance on your vehicle. Medical bills can easily pass this amount with even minor injuries. After the defenant’s liability insurance is exhausted, your attorney will then look to see if you have purchased Underinsured Motors Coverage (UIM) that will kick in to help pay for any additional compensation you might be owed.If you have absolutely any questions about what to expect during your initial consultation with an attorney, or you wish to set up a consultation with our Charleston, SC car accident lawyer, please feel free to contact the Law Office of Jared C. Williams, LLC at (843) 991-6528 to speak with us about your claim. We are always excited to see if we can help.