In a car accident, the accident is just the beginning of your problems. Navigating an insurance claim alone can be tricky, especially if the fault of the accident is disputed. In addition, insurance companies may try to settle your claim for less than it is actually worth. Hiring an attorney after an accident puts someone in your corner who knows your state’s laws and the tricks insurance companies may try to play.
A car accident attorney is a type of personal injury attorney. You can be overwhelmed by the number of options there are in your area. It seems like every commercial, bus bench and billboard is offering the services of another attorney. By asking the right questions and looking for the right credentials, you’ll be able to narrow the field down to one that is right for you.
Many personal injury attorneys focus on a particular type of case. Some handle workers’ compensation cases, others handle class action lawsuits against manufacturers and others handle car accidents. You want to find an attorney that has a lot of experience with car accidents. Look for a lawyer who has taken cases all the way to trial, in the unlikely event your case doesn’t settle before then. Of course, with this experience, there should be a winning track record of getting appropriate settlements and judgments from insurance companies.
What is the cost?
It’s no secret that attorneys cost a pretty penny. You want to find an attorney who works on contingency, meaning they don’t make any money until you get your settlement or judgment. Most personal injury attorneys work for a percentage of the final award amount. This is typically around 33%, and potentially more if your case goes to trial. You’ll also probably be responsible for costs such as filing fees and expert witness fees. Read the lawyer’s fee agreement closely so you understand what you’re responsible for. Don’t make the decision solely on the fee; if they’re the best, they may be worth the extra money.
Are They Able To Communicate Clearly?
You’ll have a lot of questions in the course of your case. You want to have an attorney who can speak to you in a way that you understand what is going on. A lawyer sticking to legal jargon may seem impressive but you will find yourself confused in the process.
Are They Respected?
Do some research online to see what other attorneys have to say about them. Don’t be afraid to ask them what percentage of their business comes from other attorney referrals. The higher the percentage, the better. Referrals mean that other attorneys have a high amount of respect for the person you’re talking to—enough respect that they risk their own reputation on a recommendation. A good attorney is also willing to provide references that speak to their abilities.
You can also contact the state bar to find out whether the lawyer has been subject to any disciplinary actions.
Do They Have a Professional Office?
You need an attorney who has the resources to handle your case. This means that they have the staff capable of doing investigative work and addressing issues as they arise. It’s likely that you’ll be interacting with some of these staff members as your case progresses. An organized office space is also a good indication that the attorney is running a professional business. It’d be hard to trust an attorney who is flipping through files trying to find your case when you come in for a meeting.
Why Do I Need an Auto Accident Lawyer?
It’s possible to handle an auto accident injury case on your own. You don’t necessarily need to hire a lawyer. That begs the question, why should you?
The reason that you should get an auto accident attorney is you will likely be given the bare minimum by an insurance company if you handle the case on your own. Insurance companies are in the business to make a profit and they do this, in part, by keeping claims costs down when possible. You might not be aware of certain legal rights to compensation for things like emotional trauma. An auto accident attorney knows the ins and outs of the process and, as a result, is able to get you the most for your accident. That’s their job.
When Should You Look for an Auto Accident Lawyer?
While you can bring an attorney on to your case at any time before the settlement is closed by the insurance company, it’s best to get one as soon as you are injured. The attorney may recommend specialist doctors to help diagnose the case and get you the best care that you deserve. And getting an attorney on board right away minimizes the chance that you’ll make a statement to the insurance company that damages your chances for a good settlement. Most clients find that the earlier that they get an attorney, the better their settlement becomes.
What Will My Car Accident Lawyer Do?
While much depends on the specifics and the complexity of your car accident case, in general a lawyer can:
- communicate with the other driver’s insurer
- obtain the necessary evidence with respect to fault for the accident
- organize your medical records and bills
- communicate with your health care providers to obtain missing records
- work with your doctors to make sure they provide the medical information you need so that you can prove damages in your claim
- organize and present the evidence in order to prove liability and damages
- negotiate with lien holders on your claim (such as health, disability, or workers’ compensation insurers) to potentially reduce the amount of those liens, and
- negotiate a satisfactory settlement with the insurance adjuster or defense attorney.