All it takes is a little bit of patience, research and a general idea of what to be on the lookout for. After a car accident, you’re not in the best frame of mind for gathering evidence and representing yourself to the insurance companies. It’s best to find an auto accident attorney who puts you first, and let them do the hard work while you recover.
Hiring an auto accident lawyer is the first step in securing the compensation you deserve so that financial worries don’t dominate your future. The right lawyer can help you recover monetary damages due to the crash and reimbursement for related medical expenses. The optimal time to hire an attorney is as soon as possible – obviously after you have obtained medical attention for your injuries — to avoid any expensive mistakes that can hurt your potential damages.
Keep in mind that the deadline to file a personal injury claim in some states is two years. Plus, because your medical expenses and lost wages are adding up by the day, the sooner you contact an auto accident lawyer, the better off you’ll be. We offer some tips for choosing the right auto accident attorney for you.
Understand the Fee Arrangement
Before hiring a lawyer, it’s imperative that you truly understand the fee arrangement and what is expected of you in terms of payment. Many lawyers don’t bill you unless or until your case is won or settled. But you should still ask what percentage will go the lawyer. The industry standard is between one-third and 40 percent of the total award. Ask for a breakdown of fees, hourly rates, etc. Be aware this is just an estimate. Car accident lawsuits can stretch for months or even years. Don’t sign anything until you’ve asked about the attorney fees and understand them completely.
Ask Yourself Questions Afterwards
You may do all the research possible on a particular attorney but you won’t really know who’s best for you until you meet with them. After discussing the case with your auto accident lawyer, ask yourself these questions:
Am I comfortable with this lawyer and his or her team?
Do they have the experience and skills necessary to handle my case?
Did they explain issues involved in my case in an easy to understand manner?
Do I understand the proposed fee arrangement?
What is my gut feeling about the lawyer? Do I sense compassion and understanding along with the tenacity that’s required for my case?
Make up a List of Questions
How Do I Choose the Right Auto Accident Lawyer
Not sure what to ask in your initial meeting? Have a list of questions ready for when you meet. You’re understandably in a vulnerable place right now and it’s common to forget basic questions you may want to ask. Some good questions to ask include:
What is your success rate? How many successful verdicts and settlements have you had?
For how many years have you practiced personal injury law?
How much of your practice is comprised of auto accident claims?
How many car accident victims do you represent each year?
How many are settled and how many go to trial?
How often do you handle cases similar to mine?
Where did you attend law school and how many years have you been serving clients in this area?
Are you a member of any bar associations or professional organizations?
Have you represented victims of car accidents who have incurred injuries like mine, such as back and neck injuries or TBIs?
The answers you get to these questions will prove invaluable in selecting an auto accident attorney.
You can also inquire about case assessment and find out what the lawyer’s honest opinion of your case is. Ask questions like:
What is your expert assessment of my case?
Will you have to hire accident reconstruction experts to prove my case?
How long do you expect my case to take?
What kind of financial settlement can I realistically expect?
What are some of the factors that work in my favor or against me?
Do you think arbitration or mediation is a better option?
Of course, no matter how good your lawyer is, these questions can’t always be answered with any degree of certainty. However, a good auto accident lawyer should be able to give you an educated guess based on their knowledge, experience, skill and nature of similar cases.