When you make your first appointment to see a personal injury lawyer there are two things that will be going on:
- You will be deciding whether this is the lawyer that you want to represent you.
- The lawyer will be deciding whether your lawsuit is one that he or she wants to take.
Generally, personal injury lawyers only want to take cases that they think they can win (and thus make money on). Therefore the lawyer will be evaluating whether or not you would be a good client and whether or not the lawsuit would be profitable.
Initial interview with the personal injury lawyer
During the initial interview, the lawyer will be evaluating whether:
- You are believable or whether you exaggerate your claims.
- You evoke sympathy in the storytelling.
- You can articulate your injuries and explain the occurrence.
Will the lawsuit be profitable?
A general business guideline for attorneys is that 80% of their income is derived from 20% of their cases. Therefore, attorneys try to grade the value of lawsuits and take only the more productive ones.
Evaluating the coverage and the injury
One of the first things that lawyers consider is the amount of insurance coverage.
After coverage has been estimated, the next step is to evaluate the injury. This can seem to be a heartless process, but it is important in the evaluation. Injuries that will require more treatment in the future tend to be worth more. Loss of earnings, especially if they will continue in the future, will generate larger recoveries. While it is not fair, the same broken leg is worth more for a construction worker than it is for a housewife.
Evaluating the liability
Evaluating liability requires some legal analysis with some sub-categories.
The first sub-category is case difficulty. In car accidents, a hit-in-the-rear case is straightforward and easy to win. An intersections case is slightly harder to prove. A product defect, such as a tire defect, is probably the most difficult car accident case there is.
The next category is contributory negligence. If you were a passenger in a car then there is little chance of contributory negligence being a problem. Otherwise there is likely to be a claim from the other side that you were negligent in some way.
The next category is the causal relationship between the accident and the injury. A claim that the car accident triggered a subsequent heart attack several months later will be harder to prove than more obvious injuries.
One of the critical factors in any case is the way a jury will respond to you. The lawyer will make a subjective judgment about how good an impression you might make on the witness stand and whether a jury will respond positively to you.
One element in this evaluation is whether you have made any prior claims. It is very harmful to the case if the defense lawyer can label you as a serial litigator.