Hiring A Car Accident Lawyer
Once you’ve decided that you need to hire a lawyer, it can be tempting to call the first one you see in an ad or hire your friend’s uncle who has “some experience” with car accident cases. Just like you would if you were hiring someone to repair your car or fix your sink, you need to do some research to find potential candidates. Furthermore, if you’re unsure about whether a lawyer is legitimate, you need to know what to look for to see if they are the right person for your case.
No two lawyers are the same and each attorney has his or her own style, but they all have the shared goal of winning. Rather than hiring the “best” lawyer, focus on hiring the best lawyer for you. Below we break down how to find your ideal lawyer alongside what to do once you’ve hired one
Where should I look to find a good car accident lawyer?
One common mistake many individuals make when hiring a car accident attorney to represent them, is to hire one after seeing a billboard or ad online without doing the necessary homework. While it may take a little time, you’ll be thankful that you did your research because hiring the wrong lawyer can cost you considerable money and time. Here are some of the best ways to find a lawyer you can trust and who will be the best fit for your case.
For many people, their search for a lawyer begins by asking friends, family, and coworkers for legal recommendations as personal referrals are one of the most reliable methods. But remember, you’re asking to find someone who’s worked with the lawyer you may hire, not someone’s spouse or relative who just happens to be a lawyer.
If you already know a lawyer that you trust but who works in a different field, ask them if they have any recommendations for personal injury lawyers who specialize in car accidents.
Search online using a legal database such as Avvo or Martindale-Hubbell where you can find lawyers by practice area, location, client reviews, and disciplinary records. Refer to your local or state bar association’s attorney directory, which will list all of the practicing lawyers registered in your city or state.
What should I look for in a car accident lawyer?
After you’ve compiled a list of prospective personal injury lawyers for your case, your next step is to set up interviews with the three to five candidates. When going in to meet with them, you will want to look for a number of different qualities that include experience, an understanding of your case, good communication skills, and being readily available and prompt in replying. In addition, as you might be working with this person for some time, having a solid rapport with your lawyer is also an important quality.
What questions should I ask a potential car accident lawyer?
When it comes to asking questions, focus on the attorneys background and their related experience. In addition, if they work for a larger law firm, ask them questions about the company culture and how much one-on-one attention you can expect. Some questions that you should always ask a car accident lawyer include:
- How much experience do you have with the particular injury?
- What percentage of your practice is devoted to car accident cases?
- What is the average settlement amount for cases similar to my own?
- How involved will you be with my case?
- What is your fee structure?
- Which out-of-pocket expenses am I required to pay?
Never feel like any question is too simple or obvious as it’s a lawyer’s job to make sure you’re as informed as possible.
What information should I provide to a potential attorney to determine if he or she is right for me?
Prior to speaking with any lawyer, it’s important to gather as much in-depth information relating to your automobile accident as possible. Additionally, you’ll want to take an inventory of any financial losses or personal injuries that resulted from the crash.
You will also want to consider sharing a number of documents with your attorney, such as your insurance policy, the information that was exchanged at the accident scene, medical records, and any other information that could strengthen your case.
Furthermore, when going in to meet with a lawyer, take stock of the following items as they will help you determine whether he or she is right for you.
Severity of Injuries: While minor accident claims are typically resolved without dispute, if you’ve been involved in a car accident involving damages such as pain and suffering, you’re less likely to receive an inadequate settlement offer from the insurance company. Getting a free consultation with an attorney is the best way to inform yourself about the next steps to take. Even if you do not ultimately end up hiring the lawyer, he or she will be able to better calculate an acceptable settlement amount that will expedite your claims process. Take into consideration the attorneys willingness to help you even before you’ve hired them as that is a good sign of how hard they’ll work to get you the compensation you deserve.
Amount of Evidence: When making a successful claim for pain and suffering, you will require sufficient evidence. Witness testimony, supporting documents such as medical and police reports, and even reconstruction of the accident scene will substantiate your claim and pre-empt underestimated claims. Of course, obtaining all of the above information is quite time-consuming. An attorney will be responsible for obtaining additional evidence, like questioning witnesses and contacting expert witnesses; taking photographs of the scene, damage, and injuries; and speaking to the insurance company on your behalf. Make sure the lawyer you are interviewing has the resources and know-how to get the requisite evidence for your case.
Proof of Fault: Often, there is no question who is at fault in a car accident and when filing a claim against the other driver or drivers involved, being able to prove fault is necessary to process your claim without the help of an attorney. When meeting with a prospective lawyer, explain to them the details of the case and any proof of fault you may already have. Even if you do not have any proof, get a sense of how that lawyer intends to determine the at-fault party and his or her method for doing so.
Calculating Pain and Suffering: While we will get into more detail about calculating the value of an accident, you will need to provide a specific pain and suffering damage amount. Lawyers use a variety of methods to calculate damages in addition to drawing upon their professional knowledge and experience in calculating a maximal compensation amount for the damages suffered. Provide your prospective candidate with the medical and repair bills you’ve accrued so far and learn how they intend to determine how much you are owed.
How are car accident lawyer fees typically determined?
Many car accident attorneys work on a contingency or “no win-no pay” format, meaning that if your representation fails to win or settle a case in your favor, he or she does not require a fee. However, if you win your case, he or she will receive a percentage of the awarded amount. While this amount will change depending on the case, it typically ranges from one-third to forty percent, though each state imposes different limits.
One important distinction to keep in mind is that costs are different from attorney fees and thus you may be required to cover certain out-of-pocket costs as determined by your retainer agreement. Make sure you learn what out-of-pocket costs you will be expected to pay prior to hiring your lawyer and whether he or she charges an hourly rate.
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