When you have experienced a car accident, particularly one involving serious damage and injuries, you may be tempted to hire the first car accident lawyer that comes to mind. It is easy to make a quick decision in the stress and chaos that follows in the wake of an accident. However, you can give yourself the best chance of a fair settlement if you take some time to consider a few things that you need to know before racing to find a lawyer. To make sure you find the best legal representation, here are 5 things to know before hiring a car accident lawyer.
Know if you have a case
This is where taking a free consultation with a lawyer is a wise choice on your part. If you believe the car accident was not your fault, you may try to hire any lawyer you can find, just to get the legal process started. However, if fault for the accident is contested and you have no proof that the other driver is at fault, then you may not have a case.
However, if there are witnesses, accessible video recording, or physical proof (whether damage to your car or serious injury to yourself) that you believe will corroborate your story, then you can bring this information to a free legal consultation to get confirmation and make sure you have a good chance of winning your case.
You also need to know what the statute of limitations is for your type of case, especially if you had an accident several years ago but are now experiencing physical issues or limitations as a long-term result of the accident. You can use a free consultation to get advice on how statutes of limitations may affect your specific case. The right car accident lawyer understands the legal complexities of accidents and can navigate both the tough questions and the finer details common to most accident cases. This allows you to relax a bit and focus more on getting well.
Know the level of experience your potential lawyer has with car accidents
As you look into engaging a car accident lawyer to represent you, pay attention to both the lawyer’s experience with car accidents and the reputation of their firm with cases such as yours. You obviously need a lawyer that has experience with car crash cases and claims, but if their firm also has a long and successful history of handling auto claims, then you are also benefiting from a wealth of knowledge, experience, and connections from within the firm.
If you have a particularly unique case, look for a lawyer or firm that has experience resolving cases similar to yours. In the instance of serious injury, you can also look for a lawyer that has a strong referral relationship with doctors and other health care professionals that treat you, or a lawyer that has experience working with hospitals to reduce exorbitant medical fees.
Similarly, look for a lawyer that has experience playing hardball with the insurance company that you are dealing with. Their experience with your insurance company means they will know if they are trying to lowball you or use other shady tactics to reduce your payout. The time you spend researching the right car accident lawyer, one who has experience with all the areas that relate to your case, will pay off in the long run.
Know your financial obligation upfront
The hope with a legal case is always that you will get the type of settlement that will mitigate all your legal, medical, and other costs related to your accident. Before you hire a car accident lawyer, you need to know up front how their fees are structured. Find out the costs for their retainer, court fees, hourly rate, and their expected payment schedule.
The majority of personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis. However, it’s always important to find out exactly what your responsibilities will be. Occasionally, depending on the details of your case, you may be responsible for some up front costs. Go over your financial obligations and agreement in detail with your lawyer before you move ahead.
Know your responsibilities as a plaintiff
As the victim of a serious car accident, you have the right to reasonable compensation for injuries and damages. In order to receive this compensation, you will have responsibilities to uphold, particularly when dealing with very serious injuries. While a car accident lawyer will of course work for you on the legal side to get you the most comprehensive settlement possible, there is work to do on your end to ensure that they can file for adequate compensation.
When dealing with a serious injury, your responsibilities include accepting treatment for your injuries, being diligent in following any rehab protocol needed, and tracking all medical expenses and bills incurred because of the accident. Keeping track of these records and your cooperation with your doctor’s recommendations will strengthen your case and help your car accident lawyer advocate for fair compensation on your behalf.
Beyond tracking and following medical protocol, you also need to be diligent in providing your lawyer with information in a timely fashion. They will need you to prepare documentation about the details of your accident (date, time, road conditions, weather, etc.), insurance details, your past and current medical records, a police report of the accident, photo and video documentation relating to your case, and the cost of damage including lost income resulting from the accident.
Additionally, it is a great idea to keep a daily journal detailing the ongoing effects of your injuries, the duration of daily activities, and any other related details that shed light on your condition and help your attorney with your case.
Know that your case will take time to resolve
Most legal cases take longer to resolve than the plaintiff expects. Your case may seem cut-and-dry to you, but your lawyer can help you gauge the expected timeline and talk through the complications or issues that may arise that could lengthen your case. This is especially true if a case ends up going to trial, as trial cases tend to take longer than settlements.
In the meantime, you’ll be dealing with your physical recovery, keeping track of your medical fees, facing job loss or long-term leave due to injuries, and other aspects of life after an accident that can make the time seem like it’s dragging on. Many insurance companies drag things out, both to negotiate a lower settlement but also with the hope that they can wear out a plaintiff and get the case dropped altogether. This can be mentally and emotionally taxing and can affect your resolve in seeing your case to completion.
Knowing that you will be in it for the long haul can go a long way in preparing you mentally before you hire a lawyer, and a good car accident lawyer will help you set expectations for the timeline of your case which will further prepare you for the legal road ahead. Hire an attorney that will continue to work tirelessly for you until your case is resolved, and you have been appropriately compensated.
Torrone Law has an excellent team of lawyers who will do just that; work tirelessly and aggressively on your behalf to ensure that you are given the compensation you deserve in order to recover physically, emotionally, and financially so you can get back to your life.