The information your law firm collects from a prospective client during an intake call or initial meeting can help or haunt you for the duration of their case. Proper intake habits will help you not only to evaluate each case more effectively, but also avoid mistakes down the line.

Any law firm can go through the basics at intake, but taking the extra steps will help your personal injury law firm trump the competition.

The Minimum

Most personal injury firms know they should collect this key information at minimum:

  • Client Name
  • Estimated Date of Loss
  • Client Contact Phone Number and/or Email

These are absolutely critical pieces of information. It goes without saying, you need to be able to follow-up with the client. You should also collect a date of loss to assess the pending statute of limitations.

In addition to these critical items, there are other questions you should ask during your early communications with a client.

Accident Description

Get your client’s account of what happened early, because it can change over time. On the day of the accident, they may describe a car slamming into theirs at 45 mph, whereas a week later, they may describe being hit by a car going 30 mph.

They will also be more likely to remember small yet meaningful pieces of information. Where did they feel the pressure of the seatbelt, what exactly did the defendant say to them, did they feel more than one impact? To get a distressed client talking, ask them to describe sounds or smells. Details matter.

Don’t rush this part of the conversation, and take thorough notes. You’ll be referring to them often at a later date.


Like the accident description, ask early about their aches and pains. After a few days, injuries can change, and some may even be forgotten about. Every injury should be recorded so your client can receive the compensation they deserve. It can help to go through a checklist of body parts, because many people forget or overlook certain symptoms, especially if they are focused on a more serious injury or pain.

Key things to ask about include tingling, loss of consciousness, or nausea.

Good intake habits produce better case outcomes

Client’s Insurance Information

To collect a client’s insurance information, you can have them take a picture of their insurance card and email, fax, or text it to you. From there, you can contact the insurance company and evaluate:

  • If the Policy is Active
  • UM/UIM Coverage
  • Policy Number

Knowing the client’s insurance situation up front will streamline your law firm’s record keeping, as well as the case itself. There also may be situations where you decide not to pursue the case after you find out the client’s insurance information. For example, if you find the client doesn’t have UM/UIM coverage and were injured by an uninsured motorist, you can drop the case before you spend too much time on it.

Emergency Contact Information

Have you ever had a client go MIA, or forgot they hired you as their lawyer? It happens. Collecting emergency contact information will not only give you a way to reach the client in the case of an emergency, but also in cases where the client is non-responsive for other reasons.

Defendant Information

Collect whatever information you can about the defendant. The contact information can easily be overlooked during intake, but is critical if your client’s case goes to litigation. Document the following details early on:

  • Defendant Name
  • Defendant Insurance Information
  • Defendant Contact Phone Number and/or Email
  • Defendant Address

Defendants become harder to track down over time, especially if they have a common name. Use any information you have to see if they are on social media. Their address or phone number may change, but their Facebook profile URL is likely to stay the same.

Witness Accounts

During the intake process, ask your client if there were any witnesses. As you know, witnesses can add credibility to and often improve the value of a case. Contact any witnesses immediately, and document theirs accounts on your clients’ case.

Witness accounts are the most useful when contacted early. It can be helpful to record a corroborating witness statement soon after the accident, when the person’s recollections are most accurate.

Keep Information Organized

When collecting this information for each case, ensure you and your staff are keeping it together in one easily accessible place. While physical folders or even Excel sheets can work, we recommend using case management software to keep track of intake information. CASEpeer, for example, is software made for personal injury law firms. Collecting and tracking key data is integral to running an organized practice.

Knowing these details at the beginning of every case will save you and your staff time and money. Moreover, good intake habits help you retain more clients and produce better case outcomes. Asking the right questions will inevitably make you stand out from the competition.

While collecting this information, keep in mind you are often talking to clients on their worst days. Be compassionate with clients any time you speak with them, but especially during the first few calls. This is when emotions are often running at their highest. The best attorneys understand not only how to secure the best results, but also how to treat their clients along the way.

CASEpeer is the highly rated case management software designed for personal injury law firms. From intake to settlement, our robust features help law firms become more proactive and powerful. Our management screens and productivity reports were developed with feedback from successful law firms nationwide. For more practice management tips, visit our blog.