Before You Hire: The Top Questions to Ask a Car Accident Lawyer Before Hiring Them
Did you know that back in 1913, car crashes resulted in 4,200 fatalities?
Now, some would say that it’s a small number compared to today’s vehicle fatality rate. But back then, there were only 2 million drivers.
Fast forward to present times, and car crashes have multiplied ten-fold. There have been 40,000 vehicle fatalities for each year from 2016 up to 2018. Moreover, last year’s accidents also led to 4.5 million people sustaining injuries.
If you or a loved one is a victim of such accidents, it’s important to retain a car accident lawyer ASAP. This way, you don’t have to be alone when facing insurance companies that may deny your claim.
The question is, how do you make certain you’re hiring the best car accident attorney? It helps to treat the selection process as a job interview. You need to ask the right questions to trim down your prospects.
Ready to learn what these must-ask questions are? Then let’s dive right into it!
1. How Long Have You Practiced Personal Injury in This State?
Personal injury laws are complex, covering other types of intentional and unintentional injuries. Apart from auto accidents, there are also slip and fall cases and medical negligence. Medical malpractice and product liability also fall under personal injury.
However, laws surrounding these injuries vary from state to state. For instance, 12 states and Puerto Rico are true no-fault states when it comes to auto insurance. In these states, there’s no need to prove who was at fault for causing a car accident.
That’s because each motorist should carry personal insurance protection (PIP) in these states. If a driver gets into an accident, the PIP will cover the damages the insured sustains. Still, there are exceptions to the no-fault rule, such as if a victim is permanently injured.
Whereas in other states, a victim has to prove that the other driver is at fault in order to win a claim. These states implement the “at-fault” law.
As you can see, both types of law have their own complexities. That’s why it’s important to hire a car accident lawyer who has a long history of practicing in your state. This is an important indicator of how well they know the ins and outs of your state’s personal injury laws.
2. Do You Specialize in Car Accidents?
It’s best to choose an attorney with significant experience handling car accidents. Again, this has to do with how complex personal injury laws are. That’s why a law firm’s focus on a specific area of personal injury is a crucial factor.
For instance, some lawyers have an impressive success rate for medical negligence cases. That, however, doesn’t automatically hold true for car accident cases they’ve handled. Their settlement or successful trial rates may not be as great for car accident cases.
3. Do You Only Represent Accident Victims?
This is one of the best ways to gauge the personality of an auto accident attorney. You likely will also feel more comfortable with a lawyer who only represents victims.
First, because trustworthy lawyers know that victims are usually the “underdogs” in lawsuits. Victims have much less power — and financial resources — than huge insurance companies. That’s why they dedicate their practice to serving the less-powerful.
4. How Many Similar Cases Have You Handled in the Past?
This is especially important if you were in a less common accident, such as if the other driver isn’t the car owner. Another is if the at-fault driver was operating a business car but may or may not be driving it for business “uses”.
In any case, you should hire a lawyer who has handled cases similar to yours. If the lawyer doesn’t look nor sound confident, feel free to move to your next prospect.
5. Can You Provide Proof of Such Cases You’ve Handled?
Many jurisdictions now permit lawyers to show the results of prior cases to new clients. If the lawyer answered yes to question #4, then ask if they can show you proof.
Keep in mind that how they did in these previous cases doesn’t guarantee the same results for your case though. However, you may feel more at ease knowing that the lawyer will strive hard to deliver the same results.
6. How Long Do You Think It Will Take for My Case to Achieve the Best Resolution?
Some insurance companies are quick to make a settlement offer. The thing is, their offer isn’t always fair and could be far less than what you’ll get if your case went to trial. Of course, if it does go to trial, it’ll take longer to resolve your case.
That’s why experienced attorneys will first need to give your case a thorough review. That’s how they determine if there’s a considerable chance of your case winning a trial. If there is, then they will guide you through the pros and cons of taking your case to court.
7. Will You Handle My Case Personally?
The best auto accident lawyers aren’t a one-man team — they have paralegals and assistants. In the U.S. alone, there are about 263,800 employed paralegals and legal assistants. They contribute a lot to the casework and provide the necessary support to lawyers.
As crucial as these assistants are, you have the right to know who will be working on your case. It’s the quality of your life as an injured person on the line after all. That’s why the lawyer who you’ll hire should be open and upfront on who will handle the bulk of your case.
Hire a Car Accident Lawyer You Feel the Most Comfortable With
Auto accidents injuries can have a long-term, even permanent effect on your life. Granted, no amount of money can equate to the pain and suffering you may have to go through. But fair compensation can at least help you maintain a good quality of life even with your injuries.
To ensure you receive just compensation, hire only the best car accident lawyer for your case. Ask all these questions so you can gauge which lawyer makes you feel the most comfortable.
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