Throughout your lifetime, you will likely only ever need to engage with a lawyer a handful of times. Often this happens around key life events such as buying a house or preparing your Will, however sometimes unexpected events, such as an accident or injury, may lead you to seek legal advice and support to ensure that you and your family’s future is protected.
The legal process can seem daunting and unfamiliar if you have had limited prior exposure. It may even seem too much to try and deal with when you are focused on trying to recover from your injury or illness.
However, it is important to understand it does not need to be a difficult experience. One of the most important parts of my role as a personal injury lawyer is to navigate you through this process and help you feel informed at every step of the journey.
In this article I have outlined what to expect when meeting your lawyer for the first time and the steps that will likely follow.
The Initial Meeting with your Lawyer
Your initial meeting with your lawyer will usually be a face to face meeting at one of our offices, so that you can meet your lawyer in person. In some instances where you are unable to travel, we may also arrange to meet with you at hospital or in your home. The meeting is likely to take about one hour.
Your lawyer will ask you to tell your story, including how you were injured, who was involved, what injuries you have suffered, how your injuries are affecting your life and what treatment you have received.
It is possible you may have already provided some of these details when you initially contacted Slater and Gordon. Whilst your lawyer will have already reviewed this information, it is important we fully understand the circumstances surrounding your situation. As such, we may re-cover some ground or ask some similar questions to provide you with the most accurate assessment of your case.
Once your lawyer has heard your story, they will advise you, based on this information, whether you have a potential claim for benefits or compensation and will also explain the process of bringing a claim and the law that applies to your claim.
Your lawyer will also take copies of any documents you have brought to the meeting - such as tax returns, claim forms, decisions letters from the insurer, medical reports, etc - for your file. Don’t worry if you do not have these for your first appointment, they can always be supplied afterwards.
The Legal Cost Agreement
If your lawyer is of the view that you have a potential claim for benefits or compensation, you are likely to be be offered a Legal Cost Agreement. This document is the agreement or contract between you and Slater and Gordon Lawyers, effectively authorising Slater and Gordon to act on your behalf and setting out the terms and conditions of the arrangement.
The Legal Costs Agreement also explains the likely costs involved to prepare and run your case, how our legal fees are calculated and provides you with an estimate of the costs payable by you at the end of your claim so that you know where you stand. Your lawyer will go through this document with you in detail at your initial meeting and there will be ample opportunity for you to ask your lawyer any questions about your claim or the terms and conditions.
Signing the Legal Cost Agreement
You may choose to sign the agreement at the time of your initial meeting, or you may choose to take it home to read it over in your own time. However, it is important to understand that your lawyer cannot commence acting on your behalf or take any action to protect your interests until they have received a copy of the signed Legal Costs Agreement from you. There is always a cooling off period within the Legal Costs Agreement, so that if you decide to sign it in your initial meeting, you still have time to go through it again in your own time at home and ask further questions.
If in the days following the appointment you have any outstanding questions about your case or the agreement there is also an opportunity for you to arrange a quick phone call with your lawyer to discuss these. Our lawyers and their teams are always available to assist you with any queries or concerns you may have and will work around your schedule to answer your questions quickly.