Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer Near Me: What to Ask Before Hiring
There are more than 60,000 personal injury attorneys in the United States, most of which have experience working on car accident claims. However, many of these attorneys also work on a variety of personal injury claims, rather than focusing on one particular subject.
When it comes to local auto accidents, it’s vital to invest in a law firm that doesn’t just have experience in San Jose car accident cases, but specializes in them, as well. These details and more must be clarified upon meeting with a personal injury attorney. To make the best selection, here are the seven most important questions to ask prior to hiring.
1. Have You Worked on Multiple Cases Involving Car Accidents?
Car accidents can result in catastrophic injuries, involve multiple drivers, and require extended medical treatment. These types of variables are specific to the damages that can be recovered in a car accident claim. Therefore, it is vital to work with an experienced car accident attorney who has had success in recovering maximized settlements for auto-accident-related losses.
Additionally, San Jose car accident lawyers know how to deal with the insurance company and understand California’s traffic laws. In order to recover full and fair compensation, expertise in these areas are invaluable. When inquiring about experience, touch on the following:
- Success rate
- The number of car accident cases won
- Factors that contributed to case losses
- If the cases occurred in San Jose, CA
- Similarities between your case and the others
2. Do I Have Enough Evidence That Supports My Car Accident Claim?
Evidence strengthens a personal injury claim, proving that another party is at fault for a car accident, caused personal injuries, and is liable for damages. When consulting with car accident lawyers, it’s helpful to provide evidence obtained from the accident scene and other post-accident documentation, such as:
- Accumulated medical bills or other medical expenses (medication, wheelchair, crutches, etc.)
- Eyewitnesses statements
- License plate and registration information from the other driver
- Photo and video evidence from the accident scene
- Pictures of any apparent serious injury
- Physician’s medical diagnosis of sustained injuries and medical treatment plan
- Police reports or the responding officer’s information
- Property damage bills for repairs
If evidence was not previously collected, a personal injury claim may still be salvageable. When meeting with San Jose car accident lawyers, ask what components are missing and how strong the case is with or without them.
Why Car Accident Evidence Matters
Car accident lawyers use evidence to contextualize injuries and to establish varying degrees of fault. Because California is an at-fault state, all involved parties who cause an accident can be held liable, including other drivers and even car accident victims.
Because of this, the defense will attempt to shift blame on the victim, consequently resulting in less compensation. However, with sufficient evidence, the state’s comparative negligence laws allow car accident victims to recover compensation, even if they are partially liable.
San Jose car accident lawyers can review the accident details and acquire the necessary evidence that supports the personal injury claim being filed against the at-fault driver.
3. How Should I Proceed With My Car Accident Case?
A San Jose car accident lawyer who specializes in motor vehicle accidents will be able to provide clients with knowledge of the legal process, building confidence in how to proceed with their cases. Therefore, ask about strategy and implementation.
One attorney may recommend filing a car accident claim, while another recommends taking the case to trial through a personal injury lawsuit. While one option is not necessarily better than the other, more than 95% of civil cases are settled out of court.
Car accident attorneys will typically push for trial only if the insurance company is refusing to pay fair compensation. Regardless of either scenario, ask each attorney why he or she is recommending proceeding with one option over the other.
How the Timeline Will Be Affected
It will take longer to reach a verdict for a case that goes to trial versus a case that settles before going to court. Cases that require more time to reach a resolution are typically a result of victims suffering from serious injuries. Medical bills make up a large sum of the final reward, so if injuries are still in the process of healing, it will be difficult to request a maximum amount from the insurance company.
Common car accident injuries that require a longer recovery time include broken bones, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and “pain and suffering.” When selecting from the pool of available San Jose attorneys, timeline should be considered, but don’t settle on a selection based on the attorney who promises a shorter turnaround time. It’s ideal to receive compensation as soon as possible, but it’s equally important to ensure you are not undervaluing your case’s worth.
4. What Is Your Legal Background?
When narrowing down which San Jose car accident lawyers to hire, consider that the best candidates will have a strong background in tort law, which is the legal experience in incidents that resulted in losses and personal injury. Therefore, ask how long each lawyer has been in practice and how long they have represented car accident victims.
This information can also be researched online. The State Bar of California database lists where San Jose car accident lawyers attended law school, when they were admitted to the state bar, if their license status is active or inactive, and if any disciplinary actions have been taken.
Additionally, ask if he or she has received any awards or recognition for their legal services, as receiving acclaim in their industry exemplifies credibility and professionalism. Hiring a personal injury law firm that has been acknowledged by peers says a lot about the legal team and their work ethic.
5. How Much Is My Car Accident Case Worth?
Being properly compensated by the insurance company is one of the main reasons to seek legal representation. An attorney will explore both economic damages and non-economic damages to estimate the value of a car accident case.
When inquiring about case value, don’t fall victim to an inflated amount. Some inexperienced car accident attorneys overestimate, while others exaggerate. Although a large settlement is ideal, the analysis should be realistic, so ask for a breakdown of what can be compensated, how much can be recovered, and why it qualifies for compensation.
Because car crashes can accumulate various types of damages, a personal injury claim should include financial recovery for the following:
- Loss of income or lost wages from being physically incapable to work
- Medical bills for surgeries, hospital stays, doctor’s appointments, and other medical care
- Pain and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, and other conditions
- Reimbursement to replace or repair all property damage, like a vehicle, cell phone, and other personal belongings
- Punitive damages for particularly egregious actions, like drunk driving
During our offered free consultation with our personal injury attorney, all potential clients receive in-depth case assessments, where the details of their car crashes are discussed, so case estimates can be calculated. We consider both short-term recovery and long-term implications to recover a fair settlement from the insurance company.
6. Can You Provide References From Former Clients?
When researching various San Jose car accident law firms online, take both positive and negative reviews into consideration. Try not to focus solely on what clients raved about, and instead, give attention to the negative critiques, as well.
Of course, it would be concerning if a personal injury lawyer has become notorious for consistent negative qualities. However, if negative reviews are not coming from the majority of clients, do not let some bad reviews be the ultimate decision-maker.
In order to get an idea of how a particular San Jose car accident lawyer operates, request references. Honest feedback from former clients indicates that the firm has built a strong enough client-attorney relationship to provide professional references–multiple references at that.
If clients are willing to share their experience, that is certainly a good sign of the type of legal representation that will be received when working with a particular San Jose car accident law firm.
7. Who Is My Main Point of Contact?
In addition to the lead attorney, inquire about other staff members that will be working on the car accident case. Some San Jose firms employ case managers, paralegals, office assistants, and more. Being backed by an experienced legal team is a bonus; just ensure it’s clear which team members will be in communication. This confirms who clients can direct their case-related questions.
Help From Top-Rated Car Accident Lawyers in San Jose, CA
Unfortunately, injured victims cannot always rely on their own insurance company to get them the compensation they deserve. In order to recover maximum compensation, it is best to work with an experienced attorney who has a proven history of winning cases pertaining to San Jose car accidents. To ensure you are enlisting the best attorney for your case, ask these seven questions.
Valley Accident Attorneys specializes in personal injury accidents involving motor vehicles. Our San Jose law firm will help you seek financial compensation, assisting you through every step of the legal process. Schedule a free consultation when you’re ready to begin discussing your case.Call Us