You were in an auto accident – one where the other party is at fault, where you suffered injuries and property damage. Do you file an insurance claim? Should you do so yourself?
If you want to ensure you are clear about your options and how to proceed, speak to a Wesley Chapel car accident attorney. Generally, they will not charge you fees unless they win your case. Personal injury law cases represent the best value in legal services today.
Before your face-to-face meeting, though, you’ll need to define a car accident lawyer’s responsibilities and consider some of the advantages of having legal representation and advice.
First, Ask This: What Is the Definition of a Car Accident Attorney?
A car accident attorney is a lawyer who represents people who have suffered an injury in vehicle collisions. Their job is to help understand your legal rights and options after an accident.
Comparing Personal Injury Legal Services and Selecting an Attorney
Your decision for a personal injury lawyer will hinge on some of the following questions and criteria:
- Do they have experience handling car accident cases? An experienced attorney will know how to build a strong case and negotiate with insurance companies.
- Are they available to answer your questions? You’ll likely have many questions about the legal process, and you need an attorney willing to take some time to explain the legal process and what to expect.
- What’s their success rate for cases that go to trial? While most car accident cases settle out of court, you want an attorney with a proven track record of obtaining favorable verdicts for their clients.
- What percentage of the settlement (contingency fee) will they charge? Contingency fees, where the attorney takes a percentage of your settlement, are common for car accident cases. Make sure you understand the fee structure before hiring an attorney.
- Will they handle communications with the insurance companies and other parties for you? Dealing with insurance companies can be stressful. A good attorney will handle communications on your behalf.
You can focus on recovering from your injuries by finding an attorney you trust who answers your questions and fights to get you the maximum settlement. So, take your time, ask the right questions, and hire an attorney who will advocate for you every step of the way.
When Should I Hire a Car Accident Attorney?
At what point should you call a lawyer? Below are some signs that it’s time to hire an attorney:
Your injuries are serious.
If you’ve suffered severe injuries that require extensive medical treatment, you’ll want an attorney to pursue compensation for medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering. In a recent year, 62 million injuries were reported in the U.S.
The other driver was uninsured or underinsured.
Unfortunately, not all drivers carry adequate insurance. An attorney can help find other liable parties and sources of recovery, so you’re not left footing the bills.
The insurance companies are giving you the runaround, or you’re afraid dealing with them yourself will lead to delays.
Insurance companies aren’t always quick to pay out, even when you have a legitimate claim. If you’re getting excuses or expect possible delays, an attorney can step in to push for a fair and faster award for your settlement claim.
You’re facing blame for the accident.
If the other driver claims you’re at fault, an attorney can conduct an investigation and gather evidence, like witness statements or footage from traffic cameras, to prove their negligence, not yours.
There are disputes over who’s at fault.
When multiple parties are involved, and the blame is disputed, sorting it out yourself can be difficult. An attorney can determine the facts so everything is clear.
If your accident is anything but straightforward, hiring a car accident attorney is in your best interest. They can handle the communications, paperwork, and legal procedures while you focus on getting better.
In most cases, the attorney’s fees come out of your settlement, so there’s often no upfront cost to you. Why not let the professionals handle it so you can receive the compensation you need and deserve?
Questions to Ask About an Attorney’s Experience
When meeting with a car accident attorney, you should ask several important questions to determine if they fit your case.
How long have you practiced personal injury law?
An experienced attorney will have a proven track record of success in handling car accident cases. Ask how long they’ve focused on personal injury law, how many car accident cases they’ve won, and if they have any experience with cases similar to yours. You want an attorney well-versed in issues like determining fault, dealing with insurance companies, and negotiating equitable settlements.
Who will handle my case?
Some law firms employ less experienced attorneys and paralegals to do much of the work. Ask whether your lead attorney will be personally involved in investigating the accident, communicating with the other parties, and appearing in court. You want an attorney dedicated to advocating for you every step of the way.
What is your success rate for settlements?
An accomplished car accident attorney can provide statistics on their success rate for obtaining settlements and settlement amounts. They should have a proven track record of negotiating maximum client compensation. Ask for references from past clients with similar cases to get their feedback.
Questions to Ask an Attorney About Fees and Costs
When meeting with a car accident attorney, you should ask several important questions regarding fees and costs. You want to go into the relationship with realistic expectations of what’s involved financially.
What are your rates and fees?
Ask how the attorney bills for their time and services. Get an estimate of the total fees for a case like yours so you know what you’re potentially facing.
Make the following inquiries:
- Do you charge for phone calls, emails, meetings, court appearances, etc.? Make sure you understand what’s included in their rates and if any costs are additional.
- Do you offer free initial consultations? Many attorneys will meet with you at no cost for an initial case review and a discussion of your options.
Are there any additional costs?
Beyond the attorney’s fees, other potential expenses are part of a car accident claim.
Discuss what costs you may need to pay upfront, or if the attorney will advance the costs, then deduct them from any settlement.
- Filing fees: Fees to file a lawsuit and other court documents. Ask if you’re expected to pay these upfront.
- Expert witness fees: If experts are needed to analyze evidence or testify, their fees can be expensive. Clarify who is responsible for covering these fees.
- Medical records and reports: Ask if you must pay for these reports and records or if the attorney can obtain them without charge.
- Any other foreseeable expenses: Discuss the possibility of other unforeseen costs so you’re not caught off guard. Come to an agreement on how additional expenses will be handled.
How will you charge me if there is no settlement?
Discuss the fee structure and payment options in detail. Again, most car accident attorneys offer a free initial consultation. They typically charge contingency fees, taking a percentage of any settlement obtained.
Questions to Ask About Strategy and Case Approach
Once you’ve found an attorney with whom you can connect, you’ll need to ask questions about their legal strategy and case approach. Injuries involving personal injury take more lives and affect more people than cancer and similar deadly diseases when people are younger.
Strategy and Approach
- What is your approach to car accident cases like mine? Do you have solid experience with cases similar to my situation? An experienced attorney will have a proven strategy for investigating the accident, gathering evidence, and building a strong and compelling case.
- How will you determine the amount of compensation to pursue? Will you aim for a quick settlement or take the case to trial if needed? Make sure their goals align with what you’re looking for in terms of compensation and how aggressively you want to pursue the case.
- Do you handle all parts of the case yourself or delegate to paralegals and associates? While paralegals play an important role in personal injury cases, you’ll want the attorney you hire to be directly involved in managing your case’s critical parts.
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of my case? A reputable attorney will give you an honest assessment of your case upfront, including any challenges they foresee. This shows they will craft a strategy to maximize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses.
- How will you keep me informed and involved in the process? Look for an attorney who maintains open communications through in-person meetings, phone calls, and email updates. You should feel like a partner in your case.
Discussing strategy, approach, experience, and communications upfront will help you realize the best possible outcome for your car accident case.
Questions to Ask About Expected Timeline
Next, you’ll want to discuss the details of your case and what to expect concerning timelines. Here are some key questions to ask:
How long do you expect the case to take?
The timeline can vary depending on factors like:
- The severity of the accident and injuries
- The complexity of the legal issues
- The cooperativeness of the other party
Your lawyer can provide a rough estimate of the expected timeline so you know what to anticipate. Ask if there are any ways to potentially speed up the timeline through negotiations or arbitration.
What are the key milestones?
Knowing the major milestones in the timeline will help give you an overview of how the case may progress.
Inquire about timelines regarding:
- Filing the initial complaint
- Conducting depositions (questioning parties/witnesses under oath)
- Mediation or settlement conferences
- Trial date(s), if a trial is needed
Your attorney should walk you through the step-by-step timeline so you feel informed and prepared for what’s to come.
How can I help and stay up to date?
You should ask how you can assist your attorney during the process to move things along efficiently. Also, discuss how often you’ll receive updates on your case, e.g., through phone calls, emails, or in-person meetings. You’ll want to check in regularly to ask any follow-up questions and provide additional details that may be helpful for your case.
The more you understand what to expect, the less stressful the legal process will be.
Specific Questions to Ask About Communications
When meeting with your car accident attorney, come fully prepared with questions about their communication.
Here are some important ones to ask about how they will communicate with you throughout the process:
- Will we meet in person, or will you also be available by phone, email, or virtual meeting? Depending on your needs and schedule, a combination of communication methods may work best. Ask if they offer communication options outside of regular business hours.
- How often will we be in contact? Will it be regularly or only as needed? Ask for an estimate of how frequently you can expect calls, emails, or meetings. You’ll want to stay up-to-date on the progress of your case and remain informed about the next steps.
- Do you personally handle all communications, or will I also interact with paralegals or assistants from your firm? Get a clear understanding of who your main point of contact will be and their role. You’ll want someone accessible to answer questions or address concerns.
- How will you update my claim status, settlement offers, negotiations, and other key developments? Inquire about the attorney’s standard procedures for conveying this type of information to clients. Will phone calls, emails, letters, or an online client portal be used?
- What is your preferred method for contacting me with questions or concerns? Let your attorney know the best ways for you to get in touch with them, whether by phone, email, or scheduling an appointment to meet. Have their direct contact information for any urgent needs.
- Will there be any communication or documentation I need to provide throughout the process? Be prepared to supply any necessary records, forms, or correspondence your attorney requests on time. Ask what will be required of you and in what format.
Open communication with your attorney is vital. Feel free to ask questions about how they will keep you informed. Make sure their preferred communication style aligns with what works best for you. The more you understand their processes, the more at ease you’ll feel throughout your legal journey.
Questions to Ask About Potential Outcomes
When meeting with your car accident attorney, come prepared with questions about what you can expect regarding potential outcomes. The more you understand the process, the more likely you’ll achieve the best possible results.
What types of compensation might I be entitled to?
Ask about the different forms of compensation, such as payments for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, property damage, and punitive damages. Find out how your attorney will determine appropriate amounts when making demands from the insurance companies.
What are the chances my case will settle before going to court?
Most car accident cases settle out of court through negotiations with insurance companies. Discuss the likelihood of your case settling, and if so, how long the process typically takes and what a fair settlement might look like based on the specifics of your accident.
What happens if we have to go to trial?
Understand the step-by-step process of taking a case to trial, including additional time requirements, expenses, and risks. Ask about trial outcomes the attorney has secured in similar past cases. Be aware of the possibility of appealing a verdict during the process.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney for Additional Legal Support and Advice
Remember, the more you communicate, the better an attorney can represent your interests. Feel free to ask for clarification or share additional details that come to mind.
An attorney is there to help, so take advantage of their experience. Contact a car accident attorney now to learn more about your rights.