Were you recently hurt in a car accident? If so, it might be time to start looking for an attorney. Many crash victims assume that insurance will take care of everything after an accident, only to learn that getting a fair settlement is often harder than it should be. Insurance companies are out to make profits and use various tactics to minimize or eliminate payouts for valid claims.
When you’re hurting after a car wreck that wasn’t your fault, you shouldn’t have to worry about fighting with the insurance company to get the compensation you deserve.
A good car accident attorney can help you prepare a strong case and demand financial relief for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. But before you get the money you need from a successful accident claim, you must find the right lawyer for your case.
If you’re looking for a car accident lawyer to represent you, it’s essential to understand their background, approach, and how they’ll relate to you personally. Finding the best lawyer for your car accident claim means asking the right questions and recognizing the right answers when you hear them. This blog provides straightforward answers to the questions you should ask and considerations to keep in mind when looking for a car accident attorney after a auto accident.
Do I Need a Lawyer for My Case?
Most personal injury attorneys offer free initial consultations during which they can gauge the strength of a prospective client’s case. When you have your initial consultation with an attorney, you should tell them about the specifics of your case. Once the attorney has a chance to listen to your story, you should ask them whether they believe you need a car accident lawyer.
Some crash victims with minor injuries or property damage can pursue fair recoveries on their own, even when a lawyer could help. Others are highly unlikely to see full compensation without professional legal representation. You want an attorney who can give you a straightforward, honest answer and articulate clearly why a lawyer is (or isn’t) necessary for your situation.
Be cautious if you get the impression that a prospective car accident lawyer has promised more than they can deliver.
Here are some red flags to watch out for during your consultation session:
- Guaranteeing a specific outcome. No lawyer should guarantee a particular outcome, such as an exact dollar amount for a settlement. Every case is unique, and it is impossible to predict the outcome of your situation with certainty.
- Promising a quick resolution. Your lawyer can work to resolve your case as efficiently as possible, but remember to be realistic about the time it could take to settle. If a lawyer promises a quick resolution without fully understanding the details of your case, they might be bluffing.
- Demanding large retainers. Many lawyers work on contingency and only collect a fee if they win. Others ask for retainer fees before they take a case. Be wary of lawyers who require large amounts upfront. This could signify that they are more interested in your money than in getting you the best possible outcome.
How Long Have You Practiced Injury Law?
It’s also a good idea to ask prospective car accident lawyers how long they have practiced injury law and how many car accident cases they’ve handled. A lawyer who has been in practice for a long time should have a deeper understanding of the law and plenty of experience handling cases similar to yours.
A seasoned lawyer will use their experience to help you navigate the car accident claims process every step of the way, including by:
- Explaining your legal options and the potential outcomes of your case
- Assessing the strength of your case and advising you on your next steps
- Investigating the car accident to locate valuable evidence, determine who was at fault, and identify all possible sources of compensation
- Working with other legal professionals, such as local judges, medical professionals, private investigators, and expert witnesses
- Communicating with others on your behalf and negotiating with the insurance company for the best possible settlement
- Managing the time-consuming and complicated aspects of your claim, such as filling out claim paperwork and looking out for legal deadlines
- Taking your case to court and representing you at trial, if necessary, to pursue a fair settlement
It is essential to keep in mind, however, that experience is not the only factor to consider when choosing a lawyer. You should also look into a prospective lawyer’s track record, communication style, and overall approach before you agree to hire them.
Do You Have Experience With Cases Like Mine?
You need an attorney with the right experience, one who has handled and won cases similar to yours. For instance, if you got hurt by a drunk driver, look for a car accident lawyer who has won successful settlements or trial verdicts in other drunk driving accident cases.
An attorney with the right experience will know the relevant laws and legal issues that apply to your case. They will also have a proven track record of handling cases like yours, meaning they will understand what it means to represent you effectively. A good lawyer will know how to identify, gather, and present compelling evidence that shows the extent of your losses and how much the other side owes in compensation.
If you ask a lawyer about their experience with similar cases and their answer sounds generic or unconvincing, don’t be afraid to follow up with probing questions. Ask them to provide details about their previous cases, such as the evidence or arguments they used and the results they won for clients. Hiring a lawyer experienced with cases like yours considerably increases your chances of getting a favorable outcome.
How Do You Handle Bad Faith Insurance Tactics?
A good car accident lawyer knows the bad-faith tactics insurers might deploy and know how to protect you from them. Bad faith insurance practices occur when an insurance company refuses to handle a car accident claim fairly. This could include denying a valid claim, failing to investigate a claim properly, or delaying payment for a settled claim.
Of course, not every insurance company employs these bad-faith tactics. But when large amounts of compensation are at stake, it pays to know your attorney can identify these underhanded practices and fight back. When you speak to a possible lawyer, ask them if they’ve encountered these tactics in the past and how they would respond if this issue appears in your case.
Nearly every car accident lawyer has seen insurers act in bad faith at some point, but some attorneys react differently to such practices than others. For instance, if you prefer a “wait-and-see” approach, you might not want to hire a car accident lawyer who will head to court at the first sign of resistance. Still, it’s always a good idea to hire a lawyer who won’t hesitate to file a bad-faith insurance lawsuit against the company over its failure to abide by the terms of its contract.
How Often Do You Take Injury Cases to Trial?
You may feel reticent about going to court at this stage in your case. Still, it’s essential to know how often a prospective lawyer takes other cases to trial because this could affect how they handle your case. Some attorneys prefer to resolve cases through negotiations and out-of-court settlements, while others are more willing to take a case to trial if necessary.
If a lawyer prefers to take contested car accident cases to trial, it may be a sign that they are willing to fight for their clients and are not afraid to stand up to the insurance company. This might be beneficial if you face a particularly difficult or complex case and need an aggressive advocate to represent you.
On the other hand, if a lawyer avoids going to trial whenever possible, it may be because they prefer to resolve cases quickly and efficiently. This approach could be right for you if you want to get paid and move on as soon as possible and are willing to accept a settlement instead of going to trial. Remember, though, that doing so could affect the amount of compensation you receive.
Ultimately, the right approach for you will depend on the specifics of your unique car accident case and your personal goals. Be sure to choose a lawyer with the experience and approach that best meets your needs.
How Will You Communicate With Me and on My Behalf?
Before you hire any lawyer, you’ll want to understand how they handle communication, both when they speak to you and when they speak to others on your behalf. Understanding a prospective lawyer’s communication style is crucial because you will work closely with them and often talk to them as your case progresses. You should choose a lawyer you feel comfortable working with and who you feel communicates effectively with you.
As you consider a car accident lawyer, ask them:
- How often do they plan to communicate with you?
- How will they keep you informed about the progress of your case?
- How will you reach them if you have a question or emergency?
- Will they respond to your calls and emails on time?
- Do they take the time to explain things in a way you can understand?
- Are they open and transparent about their fees and the strength of your case?
- Do they listen to your concerns and answer your questions thoroughly?
Additionally, you should understand how a car accident lawyer might communicate on your behalf, because how they interact with the other party could significantly impact the outcome of your case. A lawyer who communicates effectively and assertively can help to negotiate a favorable settlement or advocate for you in court. But an attorney who is too abrasive might sour a good deal and leave you worse off.
When you ask a car accident lawyer how they communicate with others on behalf of their clients, consider:
- Do they have a reputation for being assertive and effective in negotiations?
- Do they have experience communicating with insurers and other parties?
- Can they clearly articulate your position and advocate for your rights?
- Will they handle third-party communication proactively or defer to you before green-lighting any statements they make on your behalf?
How Much Will It Cost Me to Hire You?
Many car accident victims hesitate to hire a lawyer because of the perceived cost. Some people believe they cannot afford legal fees or worry about the long-term financial commitment of engaging representation. When you speak to a prospective car accident lawyer, you should inform them of your financial situation and any concerns, then ask how much it could cost to hire them.
Fortunately, you’ll find that many car accident attorneys accept cases on a contingency basis. Contingency fee arrangements benefit car accident victims who need representation but cannot pay legal expenses upfront.
Some key benefits of contingency fee arrangements include:
- No upfront fees. With a contingency fee arrangement, you do not have to pay any upfront fees to your lawyer. This could be a huge relief if you cannot pay out of pocket or have concerns about the financial risk of hiring a lawyer.
- No fees unless you win. If you hire a car accident lawyer on a contingency fee basis, you don’t have to worry about paying them if they don’t win your case. You only pay your lawyer if they win money for you, and any legal fees you pay come out of your settlement as a pre-approved percentage.
- Motivation to win. Lawyers who work on a contingency fee basis only get paid if they win your case, so they are highly motivated to work hard and get the best possible outcome on your behalf.
Always ask a prospective attorney about their fee structure before you engage their services.