Being in a serious car accident can be a very frightening experience for you and your loved ones. That's because nobody expects it to happen to them. However, according to car insurance professionals, we can expect to get into a car crash once every 18 years. Some accidents can be minor where everyone walks away. Still, some can cause life-altering injuries or even death. Right after an accident, you can be dealing with a lot of different things at the same time. You could be concerned with your physical injuries and the emotional trauma that comes from being in a car accident.
When the initial shock wears off, you'll start thinking about the practical side of being involved in an accident, including concerns about your financial losses and the legal ramifications ahead. That's when you begin to look for a car accident lawyer. But there are so many choices when it comes to hiring a lawyer. You may have doubts about picking the right one and aren't sure what to ask a car accident lawyer. While we know you have a lot of options, we hope you'll learn that Morgan & Morgan will be the right choice for you by answering your questions here. Here are the most important questions to ask during the interview process.
What steps should I take after my car accident?
This is a common question our clients ask. After being the victim of a car accident, the most critical step to take is to seek medical care if you haven't already. Some injuries take days, weeks, even months to manifest. In rare cases, it could be years after the accident. For example, a herniated disc might not cause problems right away but will worsen over time. The only way to know is to have your doctor take a spinal image. That's why it's also important to tell your doctor that you were in a car accident so they can perform the necessary tests to identify issues. Your doctor can document causation for your injuries and provide a prognosis which is extremely valuable when negotiating with the other party's insurance company.
What should I do to protect my rights?
A critical aspect of any car accident claim is to be careful what you say to the other party's insurance company. It would be best if you did not make any statements until we review the facts of your case. The reason for this is insurance adjusters are under tremendous pressure to minimize payouts and have huge caseloads, so it's impossible for them to have compassion for every car accident victim.
They record your statements and use this as a tool to discredit you should your story change in any way. They might lead the conversation and ask you about certain injuries and ignore others, then refer to the discussion and point out that you didn't mention additional injuries.
Don't be fooled if they use pressure tactics and make statements that suggest you don't have time to consult your lawyer. We will make sure your rights are protected, and you get the full value of your claim.
What deadlines do I need to be concerned about?
When filing a car accident lawsuit, there are several deadlines to keep in mind. The first is the statute of limitations for your state. A statute of limitations is the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit after a civil or criminal wrong. Car accident lawsuits are a civil matter. It's important to be aware of your state's statute as some have as little as one year from the time of your accident. The courts also have other deadlines for filing paperwork which your lawyer will handle and keep you informed.
Do you specialize in car accidents?
Some lawyers are generalists, meaning they take on a wide variety of cases. However, when it comes to car accidents, you really want to work with someone specializing in this legal area. Some car accident lawyers even specialize in your specific type of injury.
Are you the lawyer that will work on my case?
After going through the vetting process of finding the right lawyer, sometimes people are surprised the attorney they chose to represent them won't actually be handling the case personally. The case may be handed off to a junior partner or support staff. While we have extensive resources that our lawyers have access to, they are also intimately involved with your case.
How do your fees work?
Our car accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis which, to put it plainly, means that if we don't win your case or negotiate a fair settlement, we don't receive payment for our services. Because of this, we are particular in the cases we accept. A contingency fee arrangement is extremely valuable for individuals who don't have the financial resources to hire a lawyer who charges hourly. It's hard for some people to imagine shelling out lawyers' fees when you don't know if you're going to win. This is often the case with accident victims like yourself. We understand you’re already under a lot of pressure from mounting medical bills and may not even be able to work. We believe the contingency fee arrangement is the best option. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain from going this route.
Will I be responsible for any fees or other costs?
Once we win a trial or negotiate a settlement, we typically take between 25-35% as our fee. You may be responsible for additional costs such as expenses for making copies and shipping documents. All of this will be gone over in detail during your initial consultation.
Do you think my car accident case is a strong one?
When we agree to take on a case, it means we believe you have a strong chance. That's why we offer our services on a contingency fee basis. We must have confidence in our ability to show the other party was negligent and breached the duty of care they owed to you, which was the cause of the accident. That's how you recover damages in a lawsuit. If we evaluate your case and believe we can increase the value of a settlement offer, we may pursue that course of action as well.
How often will we communicate about my case?
We understand that it can be very frustrating to hire someone, and then communication breaks down, particularly when it concerns something as important as your car accident case. We don't believe that our clients should have trouble communicating with the lawyer representing them. That's why we have dedicated staff available 24/7 that will be your go-to resource whenever you have questions or concerns.
Additionally, we've invested substantially in technology to make sure you're able to communicate with us on your platform of choice, including smartphone apps. Staff members assigned to your case provide support to your lawyer and to you, the client. Our goal is always 100% client satisfaction.
What damages can I recover for my car accident case?
Every state has different insurance laws that will come into play when considering the type of damages you can recover. Some states follow "no-fault" insurance laws, which means each driver pays for their own medical bills from their personal injury protection insurance. Other states are "at-fault" states which means the person responsible for the accident pays the other party's expenses. There are nuances to the law in every state which may impact what you can sue for and under what circumstances, but generally, here are damages that may be recovered:
Medical expenses - Medical costs that may be recovered can include emergency room visits, ambulance rides, hospital stays, medications, medical equipment, follow-up care, surgery, and future medical care.
Property damage - When you're in a car accident, it's almost assured your vehicle will be damaged. We may be able to recover compensation for getting it repaired or replaced, plus tow truck fees and rental car costs while your car is getting repaired. If you had personal property destroyed, such as a laptop or cell phone, it's possible to recover compensation for those items as well.
Lost wages - If you are unable to work or had to take time off from work to recover, we may be able to get compensation for it, including loss of sick time or vacation and benefit accrual.
Pain and suffering - If you have a permanent disability or suffered permanent scarring or disfigurement from your accident, we may be able to win compensation for pain and suffering. In some states, pain and suffering is a common form of non-economic damage that can be added to a lawsuit.
How long do you think it will take to resolve my case?
This is always hard to answer because we haven't yet reviewed your case. Car accident proceedings can take just a few weeks for a settlement to over a year for a trial. What's essential is that we make sure you get the maximum amount of compensation possible, which may take some time. Furthermore, the timeline will depend on the other party's insurance company and also their attorneys. Court proceedings will likewise dictate the timeframe as courts have a tremendous amount of cases to be heard.
Is there anything I can do to improve the chances of a successful resolution?
While our lawyers will do a good amount of the legwork, your participation in the case will be required to make it a successful one. You will be expected to do follow-up care and examinations with doctors, discuss your case with our investigators and be involved with the case throughout.
Will my case go to trial?
To be honest, most car accident cases never make it to trial but instead are settled out of court. However, you want to be sure to work with a lawyer that won't shy away from the courtroom if that's what is required to recover the total value of your case. We can't stress enough that you need a legal team that's ready to go to trial should that be the best way for a favorable resolution. Our lawyers always prepare as if they are going to trial and never settle for less than what your case is worth.
What if I have more questions for a car accident lawyer?
Now you know what to ask a car accident lawyer from our perspective. Still, perhaps you have further questions for us. Our team is ready to answer them. Please don't hesitate to contact us any time of the day or night, and we'll be happy to go over any additional concerns.
Morgan & Morgan has been an advocate for tens of thousands of car accident victims just like you. We've recovered billions for our clients, and there’s a reason for that. Our motto is "For the People," and we believe in making sure each and every client gets the compensation they deserve. We will fight hard for your rights, so you don't have to.