What questions should I ask an attorney for a car accident?
Being an automobile accident victim can be overwhelming, and if you’re thinking about hiring an attorney, you may not know how to tell which lawyer is right for you. This article discusses how to screen potential automobile accident lawyers in an effort to find the best auto accident injury lawyer for your case.
There are three basic steps to hiring an car accident attorney or any kind of personal injury lawyer:
- Gather the names of qualified lawyers who could handle your case.
- Schedule a meeting, called an initial consultation, to discuss your case. This meeting is also your opportunity to learn more about the lawyer’s experience, skills, education, style, strategy, and fees.
- Based on the information you gathered during your initial consultation, hire the car crash attorney you think is best qualified to handle your case.
Questions to Ask a Lawyer About a Car Accident
So, you have your short list of attorneys you think may be able to help you after your car accident and injuries. How do you know if you even have a case? How can you tell which lawyer will do the best possible job for you? When you call a law firm or meet with a lawyer in person, you have the opportunity to ask many questions about both the accident and the attorney—and you should always make the most of this opportunity! Every law firm should be willing to thoroughly answer your questions to ensure you best understand your rights and their legal services.
Once you get on the phone or attend a meeting, it can be easy to forget many of the issues you wanted to address. It can be a good idea to prepare a checklist of questions ahead of time to make sure you get all the information you need to make your decision whether to hire an attorney. The following is only one example of a list of questions you may want to ask a potential lawyer after a car accident.
How Much Compensation Can I Expect?
Many people underestimate the value of their car accident losses. If you never call a lawyer, you may request and accept compensation that is far lower than you deserve. You will likely be surprised by an attorney’s answer regarding the potential value of your claim. Of course, it is almost impossible to estimate the end value of a case at the beginning of the process, but an experienced law firm will be able to give you information and estimates to help establish a range.
The most common losses are medical bills and lost income if your injured required you to miss work. However, a skilled car accident lawyer knows that losses can include much more than existing medical bills and lost income. You can also seek compensation for intangible losses, including pain and suffering, permanent injuries, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Noneconomic damages can be worth more than you might imagine, and can often increase the value of your claim when properly calculated. However, be prepared for an insurance company to challenge the amount of noneconomic damages you claim, and the right lawyer can negotiate for the amount you deserve. Many cases with substantial pain and suffering damages or that involve permanent injuries may not be resolved through the insurance claims process and may require a personal injury lawsuit.
Can I Expect Compensation for My Injuries?
You may have a feeling that you have the right to compensation after a crash, though it can be difficult to know for sure, especially if the other party involved is denying liability. A lawyer will gather a lot of information about how the accident happened, whether the police issued citations or made arrests, and more. The lawyer is trying to determine whether another party may be held responsible for your losses.
You will have the right to seek compensation from another party that acted negligently to cause the car accident. There are many different types of negligence that may result in a serious accident, and the liable parties may include other drivers, the employers of on-the-job-drivers, car manufacturers, and more. Some examples of negligence that lead to compensation for victims include:
- Distracted driving
- Drunk driving
- Aggressive driving
- Violating traffic laws
- Defective auto parts
- Hazardous roads
In some cases, answering this question will require further investigation by the law firm, including interviewing witnesses or consulting with car accident experts. They want to get enough information to decide whether they can prove negligence and liability in your specific case. However, you should get a good idea of whether you may have a valid claim from your initial consultation
How Much Time Do I Have to Take Legal Action?
The answer to this question will depend on what state you are in and the specific circumstances of your case. Each state sets its own statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits and, if you file your case after the statute of limitations expires, the other party may successfully get the case dismissed and you lose your right to seek compensation. For this reason, it’s absolutely essential that you understand the time limits and begin your legal case in plenty of time.
However, there is much that has to happen before you file a lawsuit after a car accident, including:
- You need to select the right car accident attorney for your case.
- Your lawyer will then investigate the accident to gather evidence of liability and to calculate your damages.
- Your lawyer will file an insurance claim with the negligent party’s insurance company. They then will try to obtain the settlement you deserve straight from the insurer, which can take time going back and forth with negotiations.
- If the insurance claim is not adequate to fully compensate you for all your losses, your lawyer will then have to prepare a persuasive complaint to initiate your personal injury lawsuit.
- The complaint must be filed within the statute of limitations.
The process leading up to a court filing can easily take months, if not longer. If you wait until the statute of limitations is almost up, you could lose your chance to file a claim or your claim may be rushed. You should be aware of your time constraints as soon as possible after your crash.
Ask Your Attorney the Following Questions After an Auto Accident
Car accidents are traumatic experiences and the injuries suffered can significantly impact your life. You may be facing overwhelming medical bills or finding yourself unable to do the things you used to do. However, you may be able to recover compensation if the car accident was not your fault.
If you are unfortunately the victim of a car crash, you should consult with an attorney. When choosing an attorney, look for someone who has a great deal of experience in auto accident cases. Before the first meeting with your attorney, you should come prepared with questions – your attorney may address most of your concerns before you ask anything, but it is important to come prepared.
What do I do after my auto accident?
Well, hopefully the first thing you did was contact your local law enforcement and seek medical attention. If you have not seen a doctor yet, that should be the first thing you do. You attorney needs to understand how significant your injuries are, and it’s imperative that you put your health first.
How will you represent me?
This is a very important question for you, because it allows for you to better understand your attorney and how he or she works. It also opens the door for your attorney to explain a little of what they will be doing so you know exactly how they will be representing you. Make sure you know the details about the plans and steps your attorney will take. You want to be able to develop a partnership with your attorney and other professionals involved in your case.
What should I do to protect my case?
You want to ensure that you understand what you should be doing and what you shouldn’t be doing in order to protect your case. Part of that will be ensuring that you meet all deadlines, such as when to file a lawsuit. You may need to do other things such as filing a notice with your insurance company. Of course, your attorney and legal team are there to assist you with all of this.
What information do I need to provide my attorney about my accident?
This is a great question to ask so that you know what kinds of documentation, photographs, evidence, witnesses, and other items you need to get to your attorney to assist in your case. Once the attorney understands your situation, they will be able to tell you exactly what may be needed.
What are my potential damages?
Every case is different, and no attorney can give you the exact worth of your case. However, the attorney should at some point be able to give you an idea of potential damages based upon your injuries and situation.
Can you help me recover compensation for future medical expenses?
Some injuries continue to cause problems for months, and sadly maybe even years. If your injuries result in recurring issues, you may need further compensation then what is offered up front for the injuries sustained. Things you might want to consider are whether your injury requires frequent visits to a chiropractor, or whether your injury could get worse later and require surgery. Ask your lawyer about whether there is a possibility of receiving compensation for future medical expenses in your situation.
What is the difference between settling and suing? And should I consider settling?
Most cases settle out of court. In the case of your auto accident claim, you may be able to settle with the insurance company without even filing a lawsuit. However, even if your claim leads to you suing the insurance company, you can still choose to settle the case prior to going to court. You can also opt against settling and take your case to trial where a judge or a jury will decide the matter. You should discuss any settlement offers with your attorney, and they can cover the pros and cons of the offer before you make any decisions. However, if you choose to settle you will no longer be able to sue for your injuries.