If you were injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, picking an attorney to handle your case is an important decision that can have a major influence on the settlement you will receive. You want an attorney who is experienced in handling these cases and will aggressively fight to get you the compensation you deserve. But how do you choose an attorney from among the many who advertise themselves as car accident lawyers?
Qualities to Look for When Choosing an Attorney
Your first step is to pick a few attorneys that you think would be qualified to handle your case. You can get referrals from attorneys you have used in the past or from family, co-workers, and friends who have been happy with a particular car accident attorney’s services. Other ways to locate attorneys include using your state bar referral service or by researching attorneys on the Internet. You should look for the following in making your initial selections:
- Experience. You want an attorney who has a lot of experience handling car accident cases. He will be more knowledgeable about the laws and court decisions that could affect your case, have a better understanding of how much your case is worth, and have experience dealing with insurance adjusters and their attorneys.
- Credentials. Board certifications, ratings by peers, and other awards in his practice areas show an attorney’s experience much more than what law school he went to.
- References. You may find testimonials or case results on the attorney’s website that will give you a sense of how other clients felt about his services and his successes. In addition, you can do a search on the Internet to see if you can learn anything else about the attorney’s reputation.
Questions to Ask at Your Initial Appointment
Most car accident attorneys will offer a free initial consultation that you will want to take advantage of. At this appointment, you will discuss your case with the attorney, and he should give you a sense of what you can expect to happen. Right away you should let the attorney know you have questions you want to ask, so he leaves sufficient time for this. You should prepare your list of questions beforehand. Here are some that you want to ask that can help you decide if this attorney is right for you:
- How much experience do you have handling car accident cases?
- What percentage of your practice are car crash cases?
- How many of these cases have you taken to trial? While you hope your case will settle, you want to be certain your attorney is willing to litigate your case if necessary and is competent to do so.
- What results have you gotten in cases that are similar to mine? You want an attorney who has a good success rate in similar cases.
- What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of my case? How do you anticipate overcoming possible weaknesses? You want an attorney who understands the weaknesses as well as strengths of your case and will be able to deal with the challenges to maximize your settlement.
- Will you personally handle my case? You want to be certain to meet with the attorney who will be representing you. Some senior attorneys or partners will meet with clients, but give the case to a newer associate.
- How do I communicate with you and how long does it take you to return calls or emails? You want an attorney that will keep you updated on the status of your case and is available if you have questions. Many attorneys are not very good at returning telephone calls or emails.
- How long will it take to resolve my case? While your attorney cannot guarantee how long your case will take to complete, he should have a good idea of this based on your facts and who the insurance company is for the negligent driver.
- What is the potential settlement amount of my case? If the attorney does not know this—for example if your medical prognosis is uncertain—he should have an idea of when he will be able to give you a settlement range.
- What expert witnesses do you think will need to be hired for my case?
- What fees will you charge and who pays expenses, such as the expert witness fees?
- Will I have any out-of-pocket expenses and do you advance these costs?
Once you have interviewed a few attorneys and asked questions like these, you are ready to pick an attorney. You should focus on the following in making your decision:
- Experience of the attorney in handling car accident cases
- Success rate of the attorney in handling car accident cases
- The attorney’s reputation
- Whether you communicate well with the attorney
- Whether you trust the attorney
- Whether you feel the attorney will fight to get you the compensation you deserve
I have been representing accident victims like you for over 10 years. If you were injured in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, I am happy to answer questions such as these in a free, no-obligation consultation. Check out my Testimonials to review client references and then call me at 706-863-6600 or toll free at 888-795-6261 to schedule an appointment.