Every year, there are more than 6 million car accidents in the US and 3 million injuries as a result of car accidents. If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you know how taxing the process can be. Not only are you potentially dealing with a totaled vehicle, you also may have severe injuries to deal with.
On top of that, you also have to work with insurance companies to ensure that you are compensated for your injuries. Unfortunately, most insurance companies want you to settle for the lowest amount possible. This is where a personal injury lawyer comes in.
A personal injury attorney who specializes in car accidents can help ensure that you are adequately compensated for the accident. Read on to learn more about choosing the right attorney after an accident.
Decide What Your Case Needs
Before you start looking for an attorney, you need to understand what kind of case you have and what type of attorney you need. It might be clear that you need a personal injury lawyer, but not all personal injury attorneys are created equal. There are many different types of injuries within the personal injury specialty, so you need to identify someone who has experience with your injury or accident type.
For example, if you were hit by a car while riding your bike, you should look for a bicycle accident lawyer, not someone who specializes in slip and fall accidents or workplace injuries. When searching for an attorney, look for personal injury lawyers or firms and then check whether they specialize in a certain type of accident or injury.
Ask for Recommendations and Referrals
Once you know what type of lawyer you need, it’s time to get recommendations. Word of mouth from former clients is often the best advertising that a lawyer or law firm can get. Ask your family and friends if they have recommendations for lawyers that they have used in the past. When choosing the right legal team, it is also a must to enquire with a skilled professional in the industry.
Another good source for recommendations is a referral from another attorney. If you know an attorney, ask them who they would recommend and who they would want to handle their own case. A referral from a fellow attorney is extremely valuable. Trust their judgment.
When you speak with potential attorneys, you can even ask them what percentage of their cases come from referrals from other attorneys.
Narrow Your Search
Once you’ve gotten some recommendations, create a shortlist and start doing your own research. Read reviews and check out their websites. Many attorneys include client testimonials on their sites and they also include information about past cases that they have won.
When looking through their sites, look for information about their specializations, what kinds of cases they try, and pay attention to whether it’s a small law firm with just a few lawyers or a solo practitioner or if it’s a large firm with many different attorneys.
This will guide your decision as you may not feel comfortable with a huge firm and would prefer to work with a smaller practice. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.
Working with a small firm means you may get more personalized attention and your attorney may have fewer cases. If you choose a larger firm, there might be paralegals and legal assistants who also work on your case. The large firm also may have more resources at its disposal to investigate your accident or hire experts to help bolster your case.
Pay attention to all of this information as you are searching and then come up with a list of 3-5 attorneys who you want to interview.
Interview Potential Attorneys
Once you’ve narrowed your search, it’s time to interview potential attorneys. Most personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation (if they don’t, be wary of them). Things you should ask in this interview include:
- How many cases have you tried similar to mine?
- What is your success rate?
- How many cases have you taken to trial?
- Do you think I have a good case?
- What is my case worth?
- What is your fee structure?
- Who will be working on my case?
- How will you communicate with me?
- How long will the case take?
- What is a fair settlement?
- What is my role in the case?
- What resources do you have to investigate the accident?
- Who pays for medical records, experts, and other case fees and when?
These questions will help you narrow down your list even further. Remember that you also want a lawyer that you can trust. If your gut tells you that you can’t trust someone that you meet with, you might want to strongly consider eliminating them from consideration, even if everything they are telling you sounds like what you want to hear.
Understand Their Fee Structure
Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis. This means that they don’t get paid unless you win the case. Typically, most attorneys will charge 1/3 of your settlement amount. Don’t assume though; make sure you understand how their fees are structured before you agree to work with them.
Other fees that you might incur include those that are necessary to fully build your case. Medical records, expert witnesses, medical experts, and accident reconstruction specialists may all be needed to prove your case. Ask potential attorneys who will pay for these fees and when.
Larger law firms will typically front the costs of these fees and then take a part of the settlement to pay them. Others may require you to pay them upfront or to pay a retainer for any potential fees. Anything that is left after the case is settled is then returned to you.
Ask potential attorneys how they handle this and if you are responsible for paying them upfront, consider whether that is something that is reasonable for your budget.
Hire the Best Personal Injury Lawyer for Your Case
Not all personal injury lawyers are created equal. Use the tips provided here to make sure you find one that will best represent you and get you the compensation you deserve after an accident.
Did you find this information useful? If so, be sure to take a look at some of our other posts before you go.