Before you arrive for your first meeting with a workers' compensation attorney, give some thought to how the meeting will go. It's a business and professional meeting, so approach it with the right frame of mind and presentation. You and the lawyer will be putting your best foot forward. Wear appropriate clothes, be on time and be polite. Expect the same from the lawyer.
Be at Ease
Your meeting may not start off with the legal issues. Your lawyer will likely ask for some background information, and spend a some time with casual conversation. This should put you at ease, and allows both of you to get acquainted.
Allow the lawyer to set the tone and course for the meeting. While you have a good amount of information to share, the lawyer can help direct what needs to be discussed first. Depending on your case, the lawyer may be interested in certain facts or events. If you've completed any questionnaires in advance, or organized your documents and have some questions ready, the lawyer will appreciate your effort.
The Scope of Your Meeting
The scope and focus of an initial consultation is to present relevant information, allowing the lawyer to assess your case. Be aware that the attorney-client privilege applies to this meeting, even if you don't hire the lawyer to represent you. You need to be honest, which is to your benefit. This applies to negative information, too. The lawyer will prefer to have negative information sooner, rather than by surprise later on.
If there's interest in taking your case, the lawyer will help you understand what your options are, and what resolution you might expect. Once again, be honest with the lawyer. If you're well-prepared for the meeting, the lawyer may have specific advice about your case and what steps you might take next. At the end of the meeting, you should feel you've made progress with your workers' comp case. Your plans may include getting started with steps related to workers' comp benefits, especially if time limits for your claim are an issue.
Hiring the Lawyer
If the lawyer agrees to take your case, and you'd like to hire him, you'll take care of a few more initial steps before work on your case begins. Expect the lawyer to give you an attorney engagement or representation contract. This contract will describe the terms of the lawyer's services to you, including fee arrangements. Read before signing and ask questions if there's something you don't understand.
Ask what the next steps are for you, and follow up; cooperation is important for the success of your case. Know what to expect regarding communication, and keep up-to-date as your cases progresses.
Questions for Your Attorney
- Do you anticipate any particular problems with my case?
- Will you handle communication with the workers' comp carrier from this point on?
- How likely is it that my case will settle?