How to prepare for your free consultation

Here at the law office of Julie M. Essa, we offer free consultations for a variety of cases:
  • Car accidents
  • Truck accidents
  • Slip and fall
  • Premises liability
  • Wrongful death

Before you come to our office for your free consultation for your personal injury case, you should prepare to talk about your accident.

You should bring every document you can to your initial consultation such as:
  • Any medical records or bills you have from the date of the accident
  • Insurance contact information for every party of the accident including your own
  • Any pictures or videos you have of the accident
  • Police report
  • Any notes you may have taken
  • Copy of your health insurance card

The more information you bring to your initial consultation the better. If you bring something that you are uncertain is relevant to the case, it only takes a minute for the attorney to make a determination on its relevancy.

The consultation will center around two essential areas:
  1. How the accident occurred, and
  2. Your injuries and medical treatment.

The more information that you bring relating to these two areas, the better. It is helpful to give the attorney everything and let the attorney sort out what is needed to get a full understanding of the accident and your injuries.

The Statute of Limitations in Georgia

Georgia has a statute of limitations that requires that cases be brought within a certain amount of time after the occurrence.  For instance, the general statute of limitations in Georgia is two years from the date of the accident. 

There are other limiting considerations in Georgia, depending on the type of claim.  The impact of the statute of limitations on your case will not be of great importance for those who have just been in an accident and are seeking counsel.  However, it will greatly impact those who feel they want to pursue a case years after the occurrence.

Do not wait until the last minute to contact an attorney.  The earlier you speak with a qualified personal injury attorney, the better for your case.

Exactly how the accident happened

Be prepared to talk about how the accident occurred in your initial consultation.  If your consultation is about a car or truck accident, we often ask personal injury victims to draw a diagram of the accident scene. This is so we can get a better understanding of the crash scene.

If you have been in an accident, here are the 5 important steps to take after an accident.  It is usually helpful to write down the information regarding witnesses, investigating officers, and other people who were at the scene.  Sometimes recording the information on a cell phone can be a wealth of information.  Snapping a few photographs of the other driver, their proof of insurance card, and the damage to the vehicles, is an excellent way of documenting necessary information.

The personal injury attorneys, Julie Essa and Noor Janho will usually get a thorough understanding of the cause of the accident before moving on to the medical issues in the case.  When you call to schedule a free initial consultation, think about the following question before you first speak with the attorney.

“What did the other person do wrong.”

Frequently, people are so overwhelmed by the situation that they find it difficult to discuss the most vital details.  If you are in an automobile or truck accident and were stopped at a red light and hit from the rear, a simple statement such as “I was stopped at a red light, and they hit me from the rear” is enough to give the attorney an understanding of the liability issues.

You can expect the attorney to ask you many questions that are designed to help her understand what happened and why.

Your injuries and treatment

Another area of importance for your initial consultation are the injuries that you suffered in an accident.  The attorneys will want to know the following:

  • Were you removed from the scene in an ambulance?
  • When you were first treated and where?
  • Were you admitted to the hospital?
  • Any follow-up treatment you have received since the accident.
  • All prescriptions for medication that you have been given because of the accident.
  • Any scheduled follow-up treatment.
  • Whether or not you have health insurance.
  • Any testing has been done.
  • Approximate cost of your medical care to date, if you know.
  • If you have missed work because of the accident.

Information about your injuries and who was at fault will make it easier for the attorney to understand how the accident happened.  Answer all questions as fully and truthfully as you can.

Frequent Mistake

One mistake many make in their free consultation is not being completely honest with the attorney.  Usually, this is because a person thinks that the information withheld may hurt their case.  You must tell the attorney that you hire everything that might adversely affect your case.  Failure to do so can and will hurt your case.

However, if your attorney knows about the adverse information, they can take steps to minimize it or eliminate it at trial.  If they don’t know about it, it can have a very harmful impact on your case.

Three things you must tell your injury lawyer would be a prior claim, a criminal conviction, or an initial injury to the same part of the body.

Have questions ready for the consultation

When you first talk with the attorney, it is the attorney’s chance to understand what happened and its impact on you.  It is your chance to learn about the attorney and his or her abilities.  Undoubtedly, you will have many questions and it can be helpful to write down your questions before the interview.  Do not be concerned about any questions you may ask.

Here are some frequently asked questions you may consider in an initial interview:
  • Do I need a lawyer for this case?
  • How long will this case take?
  • What if the adjuster calls?
  • How will my medical expenses get paid?
  • Is there anything I need to do right now?
  • If you accept the case, what percentage do you charge?
  • Is there anything I should avoid doing?
  • If I hire you, who will I be talking with when I have questions or concerns?
  • What expenses come out of the settlement?
  • If I hire you to take my injury case, what can I expect?
Do I have a Case?

It does not take a personal injury attorney long to form a judgment about whether or not they think they can make a case for damages. There are three essential factors every personal injury attorney considers when accepting or declining a case:

  1. Liability,
  2. Damages, and
  3. The ability to collect.

Generally, all three of these factors must be considered when an attorney decides to accept or decline the case.

What if I was partly at fault for the accident?

A further example would be if the accident were partly your fault.  In Georgia, you can be partially at fault for the accident and still collect damages if you were less than you can recover damages only if you were 49% or less at fault as compared to the other party. If a jury should find you 50% at fault, you are not able to collect damages in Georgia.

Because attorneys handle personal injury cases on a contingency fee basis, the best attorneys are usually very picky in the cases they accept.  If the attorney believes you have a case, but it is not a case that they would take, ask the attorney for a referral.  Many times, the attorney will have a few names of other attorneys that they feel would be a perfect fit for your case.

Where do we go from here?

If you retain an attorney after the initial consultation, the law firm will need you to fill out paperwork and sign a representation agreement. In Georgia, a written fee agreement is required for a contingent fee personal injury case.

Always read the fee agreement and ask any questions you may have BEFORE you sign. Most Atlanta personal injury attorneys have similar fees starting at 33.33%. However, firms vary on charges. Our policy is that we generally do not charge more than the client will net receive at settlement.

What is the timeline for my case?

The timeline for a personal injury case varies depending on the type of case and injuries suffered.  Unless there is a statute of limitations issue, many attorneys choose not to attempt to settle or litigate cases while the client is still treating medically for his injuries.  The reason for delaying the settlement discussions on the case is because the damage model is not developed, and settlement would be premature.

Generally, it takes several months for your medical treatment and thereafter, to obtain your medical records and billing statements in a form that is admissible at trial.   Therefore, it takes much effort to get them to move forward and release the necessary medical information once the medical records and billing requests are made from the attorney’s office.

The Law Office of Julie M. Essa, LLC is experienced and has excellent results in personal injury cases and looks forward to serving your legal needs during this sensitive time when you have been injured from an accident.