What to Ask Before Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer
There are more than 60,000 personal injury attorneys in the United States today, which is a large pool to choose from. Knowing what to ask your potential car accident lawyer helps you choose the best fit. Here are seven questions to ask before hiring.
1. What Is Your Impression of My Evidence?
Any lawyer that you hire will need convincing evidence to win your case. The evidence will prove that another party was at fault and is liable for your damages. It will also prove how much compensation you are owed. Common forms of evidence in a car accident case include:
- Copies of your medical bills and physical therapy statements
- Diagnostic X-Rays and other medical images
- License plate and registration information from the other driver
- Photographic and video evidence from the vehicle wreckage
- Testimony and statements from eyewitnesses
- Doctor recommendations and physical therapy instructions
- Accident reports from the law enforcement
Car accident lawyers use evidence to contextualize your injuries and also establish varying degrees of fault. Being able to establish an exact percentage of fault is important since California is a comparative negligence state. This means that multiple parties can be found liable for the car crash, including you, the victim.
However, an experienced lawyer can defend your narrative of events if the other driver is claiming that it was your fault. Collecting the right evidence solidifies your case and helps prove why you should be compensated.
2. How Would You Suggest Moving Forward With My Case?
When discussing your case with a lawyer, they’ll provide clarity on what the next steps are. This includes research, contacting all involved parties, and working on the deposition during litigation. They’ll also assist you in crafting a winning lawsuit to help you get paid what you’re owed.
In more than 95% of civil cases, car accidents are settled outside of court. Your lawyer will likely push for a settlement once they see that the facts favor your side, and will negotiate a fair payment.
Ask for their professional opinion on the likely outcome of your case, and what strategy you should use. The strategy that your lawyer chooses will play a role in the amount that you’re paid and the time that it takes to bring it to a conclusion.
3. What Is Your Legal Background?
Hire a lawyer with solid experience, a strong legal background, and a reputation that precedes them. Working with a skilled and trusted attorney increases your chances of winning your personal injury case.
Start with a search in the State Bar of California database to find out when the attorney was first licensed, how long they have been practicing, and what area of personal injury they specialize in. You can also take down their attorney bar number and research their previous lawsuits in your county’s civil court database.
When you talk to the lawyer, ask them if they’ve received any rewards or recognition for their legal services over the years. Receiving acclaim in their industry exemplifies a law firm’s level of respect and professionalism.
Hiring a firm that receives the recognition of peers and the community can strengthen the likelihood of finding a consummate professional that can win you an equitable judgment or settlement.
4. How Much Is My Case Worth?
Maximizing the dollar amount you get paid is one of the main reasons to hire an attorney. A car accident attorney will explore both economic and non-economic damages. Your attorney will explore both short-term recovery and long-term implications to calculate a fair settlement amount for your case.
Economic damages are quantifiable costs and can include factors like the cost to replace your vehicle, medical bills, and other areas that affected your financial standing. Non-economic damages are subjective and refer to pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and loss of quality of life.
5. What Types of Damages Should I Seek?
A quality lawyer will go through every detail of your case to make sure you’re properly compensated, as car accidents can accumulate various types of damage, including:
- Loss of income or lost wages from the time off you have to take from work
- Money to replace or repair your automobile
- The medical and rehabilitative costs of healing from your injuries
- Pain and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and other conditions
- Punitive damages
Economic damages have a paper trail and are more black in white and provable. They include things like your medical bills, lost wages, and physical therapy costs. Non-economic damages refer to any pain and trauma that you have suffered as a result of the accident.
6. Can You Provide References?
Positive references mean a lot in any professional relationship. A lawyer who can provide references has proven that they have a strong grasp of the law and a track record to prove it.
References also indicate that an attorney has a strong client satisfaction rating. If a former client is willing to share his or her experience, that is certainly a good sign of the type of legal representation you will receive when working with a particular law firm. Choose lawyers who have plenty of satisfied clients, and you’re more likely to get a positive outcome.
7. Who Is My Main Point of Contact?
Ask specifically which lawyer will take the lead on your case. This lets you know which attorney can address all of your questions. In addition, you can research their individual background to make sure they have the skills and experience that you’re looking for.
Find out if their specialty matches up with your legal needs. For instance, you might need to hire a lawyer that specializes in rideshare accidents, traumatic brain injury (TBI) after car accidents, or semi-truck accident cases.
Consider their attributes, such as the speediness of their progress, communication style, and ability to negotiate.
Find the Help of a Car Accident Lawyer
These seven tips are helpful when you need to know what questions to ask a car accident lawyer. Finding the right lawyer can make or break your chances of winning the case or getting a settlement. Valley Accident Attorneys can help you with any sort of car wreck case that you’re pursuing. Call (650) 900-7514 when you’re ready to schedule a free consultation.