If you're involved in a serious car accident, one of the biggest decisions you'll make is hiring the right lawyer. But how do you find out which lawyer is right for your case?
Online reviews and personal referrals are a great start, but you'll have to meet with a car accident attorney before you hire one. And here are a few essentials questions you'll need the answers to:
1. How Much Experience Do You Have?
There are two types of legal experience: (1) the time an attorney has spent practicing, and (2) the amount of similar cases he or she has handled. Ideally, you want someone who has spent a long time handling serious car accident claims. Even if a friend of a friend has 20 years experience, if it's in divorce law, they might not be able to help much. The more familiar an attorney is with your specific type of claim, the better he or she will be able to represent you.
2. What Are Your Fess?
The first questions most people have are how they're going to pay for an attorney and how much their case will cost. Attorney fee structures can vary, and some personal injury attorneys will work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if you win your case and receive a percentage of any damages you get. Most consultations are free, and all attorneys should provide you with a clear and accurate fee agreement before any representation begins.
3. What Do You Think of My Case?
This is a broad question, it's impossible to predict an exact result of your case, and lawyers are prohibited from guaranteeing a certain outcome. Still, an experienced attorney should be able to discuss the results of cases similar to yours and the relative merits or faults of your case. You will also get a good indication of the legal proceedings and time that will be involved.
4. How Do You Communicate With Clients?
While your lawyer doesn't need to be at your every beck and call, few things are more frustrating than an absent attorney. Find out how your prospective attorney prefers to communicate with her clients (email, in-person meetings, or phone calls) and try to get a sense of how often. You need to know that they will be timely in getting back to you.
5. What's My Comfort Level With You?
Yes, it's a question for yourself, and you can only answer it after meeting with an attorney, but it might be the most important one. You need to assess how comfortable you feel with a prospective attorney and how confident you feel that they will represent your interests. You're entrusting them with your car accident claim, so you want someone that you feel comfortable with personally and professionally.
If you've been injured in a car accident, you should consult with an attorney immediately, and be ready with the right questions.