When you are meeting with a personal injury lawyer for the first time, it is important that you understand what your potential lawyer may need to know. A personal injury law firm usually works on a contingency fee basis, meaning that it receives no money for the efforts it puts into your case unless you ultimately receive compensation through a settlement or award. Therefore, it is important that you provide important information to the lawyer you are meeting with so that your personal injury claim can be properly evaluated. Here are five of the top things you must tell your Southfield MI personal injury attorney:
1. You Have a Pre-Existing Injury
If you were previously injured to the same part of the body where you were recently injured, notify your personal injury lawyer of this fact. Having a pre-existing injury will not automatically prevent you from receiving compensation, but the insurance company will likely find out this information. The best personal injury lawyers will be able to take this information, request old medical records, and draw distinctions between your old and new injuries. Generally, if your old injury had recovered and the accident made a new injury to the same body part or if it worsened your pre-existing injury, you may still be able to receive compensation.
2. You Have a Criminal History
If you have any criminal convictions, either felonies or misdemeanors, you need to notify your Southfield MI personal injury attorney of this. While these convictions may not be relevant to your case, insurance companies commonly run background checks on claimants. If you may appear as a witness who is not credible or an unsympathetic victim, a personal injury lawsuit may not be the best approach. Your lawyer may recommend a settlement or personal injury mediation instead.
3. You Were Partially at Fault for the Accident
Under Michigan’s modified comparative fault rule, you can still recover compensation for the damages you sustain in a personal injury accident as long as you are not 50% or more at fault for the accident. However, your potential award will be reduced by your own degree of negligence. For example, if you are found to be 20% at fault and suffered damages of $100,000, you will only be able to recover up to $80,000.
4. You Have Filed for Bankruptcy
If you file for bankruptcy during your personal injury case, any award you receive may become part of your bankruptcy estate and go to pay your creditors. However, if you inform your personal injury lawyer of this, he may be able to work with the bankruptcy lawyer to retain part of the settlement for your own needs.
5. You Have Been Re-Injured
If you suffer another injury after your accident, you should also tell your lawyer about this. This can help your Southfield MI personal injury attorney anticipate challenges by the defense and secure medical evidence to delineate between your prior and new injuries.
While none of the things above may necessarily break your case or prevent a personal injury law firm from taking your case, telling your Southfield MI personal injury attorney about these things can help him to better anticipate challenges and better prepare for your case. Contact the Law Offices of Ian M. Freed, PLC at (248) 985-3530 to schedule a free case review.