Hiring an auto injury attorney after an automobile accident may seem excessive in some cases. However, they’re an absolute necessity if you want to recuperate your losses and get your life back on track.
The trick is finding the right auto injury attorney that will represent your best interests and help you receive fair compensation. Finding the right attorney isn’t as easy as dialing the number you found on a bus bench ad. You have to get proactive and vet your potential attorney to make sure they have what it takes to get the job done.
In this article, we’re going to talk about why you need an attorney post-car accident and the essential questions to ask during your consultation. Keep reading to learn more.
When to Hire an Auto Injury Attorney
Most people rely on their auto insurance companies to cover them in the event of an accident. If injured physically in an automobile accident, your next step is usually to file a claim with your insurance company and the insurance company of the other party at fault. In no-fault states, most injuries are covered through Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance.
Once you’ve filed your claim, it’s up to the insurance company to determine the value of your injuries. The problem is that auto insurance companies’ interests generally lie within making money for their shareholders. They achieve this by only paying out a small portion of the premiums they collect.
Auto insurance companies typically have a team of lawyers and adjusters who evaluate your claim to a T. As soon as the insurance company has been notified, their team of lawyers is already finding ways to devalue your claim. In some cases, the insurance company may deny your claim completely, regardless of whether your injuries are minor or severe.
So, the time to hire an auto injury attorney after you’ve sustained a car accident injury is right away.
Finding the Right Auto Injury Attorney
Think of it this way: you have a life, a job, maybe a family to support. If your car accident injury puts you out of commission, how will you support yourself and your family?
That’s why the second most important thing next to hiring an auto injury attorney is finding the right attorney to handle your case. To get the appropriate compensation out of your claim, you need someone who’s experienced and has a good track record. Additionally, your attorney is someone who you should trust and feel comfortable with since you’ll be working closely with him or her.
The rule of thumb is to always interview at least two attornies when looking for auto accident representation. You also need to ask the right questions to make sure they’re the right attorney for you. The following are the eight most critical questions to ask your future auto injury attorney:
1. What Are Your Fees?
Most auto injury attornies are compensated based on contingency fees. That means that you won’t have to pay any fees unless you recover the money damages from your lawsuit. This would include filing fees, medical record retrieval fees, expert witness costs, court fees, and other “out-of-pocket costs.”
Contingency fees typically range from 25 percent to 40 percent of car accident injury settlement amounts. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for. An auto injury attorney that offers lower contingency fees most likely isn’t highly qualified for the job.
While most contingency agreements stipulate that you won’t have to pay any of the above fees if your case is lost, there are some that may still bill you anyway. Always make sure you understand what your attorney’s fees are and how they’re allocated before you sign any agreements.
2. What is Your Experience with Auto Injury law?
Never assume that your auto injury attorney has handled similar cases to yours. Also, never assume that they’re particularly skilled in their practice. Be sure to ask each potential attorney about their background and experience level, as well as the types of cases they’ve had success with.
Most attornies will have a section of their business website dedicated to their professional background information and achievements. You can save a lot of time by researching potential attornies before meeting with them.
3. Who Will Be Handling My Case?
Larger law firms will have several staff members and attornies that can take on your case as a team. However, this also means that the attorney who held your initial consultation may not be the same attorney that will handle your case or take it to court if necessary.
While having a team is beneficial, it also means that your case could get passed along multiple hands. For example, there may be an attorney who specializes in settlements and another who specializes in claims evaluations. It’s important to know exactly who will be handling your case each step of the way and who you will be your primary contact with that firm.
4. How Much Time Can You Devote to My Case?
Sometimes attornies take on more cases than they should at one time. If this happens, they could end up pushing your case to the side, taking more time to get to a resolution. Always ask potential attornies how much time they have to focus on your case right now.
Don’t be afraid to stress the importance of getting the process started and our case filed right away. After all, that’s your settlement money, and you may not have the luxury of time in terms of paying your mortgage or other bills.
5. How Long Will the Case Take to Resolve?
As we’ve said, time may not be on your side. There are also quite a few factors that can influence the amount of time it takes to resolve each case. So, not only do you want to make sure that your potential attorney will be committed to finding a resolution, but they should have no issue with you giving you a rough timeline for the process.
Be wary of attornies who respond to the question of time by telling you that your case will “get settled early on.” One of the more important factors that can influence your cases’ timeline is whether or not it’s taken to court. Your potential attorney should always be prepared to go to trial so that you’ll receive the fairest settlement possible.
6. What Is My Case Worth?
In addition to a working timeline for your cases’ resolution, you also need to ask about what your case is worth. A good attorney will be able to explain how factors such as discovery, pre-existing medical conditions, liability, and so on may have an impact on the verdict. They should provide you with the entire monetary spectrum to manage your expectations.
If the attorney you’re interviewing is making unrealistic estimates and claims in terms of how much money you can expect to get out of your case, they’re likely trying to bait you.
7. What Is My Role?
The reason for hiring an auto injury attorney is to handle the legalities and formal aspects of your case. In other words, you’re hiring them for their understanding and experience with the law as well as their skillset to defend you. Of course, to do so, they’re going to need your help.
Your attorney should be able to get a hold of things like police reports, medical records, and other documents filed with the state, but you’ll be expected to do some legwork yourself. For example, your attorney will need your information to prove your pain, suffering, and losses. They’ll require any information requiring money you’ve paid out of pocket, lost wages from not being able to work, medical bills, documents proving past and future medical appointments, and so on.
You and your attorney will need to maintain an open line of communication and have an understanding of each other’s responsibilities.
8. Can I Speak With a Past Client?
Never sign an agreement with an attorney without asking for a list of references first. A good attorney should be able to give you the contact information of at least one former client, that way you can get a first-hand account of their success and what you can expect.
Don’t rely solely on your potential attorney’s business website or advertisements. Online testimonials and web copy aren’t always 100 percent honest and are sometimes very generous in their wording.
If the attorney in question is unwilling to give you any references, it may be because they have something to hide.
Whether it’s a fender bender or a severe crash, automobile accidents are always traumatic experiences. This is especially true if you’re involved in an accident that leaves you or someone else injured. When injuries occur, there’s no time to waste—you’re going to need an auto injury attorney as soon as possible.
Asking the above questions will help you sift through the good and bad quickly, as well as help you understand how the entire legal process works for your case.
For more interesting and informative lifestyle articles, check out the rest of our blog.