If you need to hire a lawyer to handle your car accident claim, it can feel overwhelming. If you need a lawyer, you are likely still recovering from your injuries, and you have a life to live. If you have never dealt with lawyers of any kind before, the thought of hiring one also be intimidating. Here are a few tips to guide you through a difficult process.
What Kind of Lawyer?
If you have been in an auto accident you need a personal injury lawyer. There are thousands and thousands of personal injury lawyers to choose from. The first step is making sure you are hiring a personal injury lawyer that specializes in auto accidents. Many states actually don’t let lawyers call themselves experts or specialists. Look for a lawyer that limits their practice to auto accident cases or has several years of experience handling auto accident cases.
Where to Start?
The best place to start looking for a lawyer is by asking your family and friends for recommendations. Mist likely you know someone who has needed a personal injury lawyer. If not, you at least know somebody who knows somebody. Ask around. If someone tells you they really liked their lawyer ask them why. If someone tells you they didn’t like their lawyer you also need to find out more specifics. Call and schedule a meeting with two or three attorneys that you received positive recommendations about. If couldn’t get any referrals from your network, search the web and meet with a couple from there. You should not have to pay for a consultation with a personal injury lawyer. Anyone asking for a consultation fee should be avoided.
When you meet with a lawyer they will have forms for you to fill out and often will ask you several detailed questions. Answer the questions as completely and honestly as possible. Everything you tell the lawyer will be confidential, it’s important that a lawyer has all the facts before taking any action. The lawyer should ask you if you have any questions. If a lawyer doesn’t ask, you should probably go elsewhere. A good lawyer wants to make sure you are informed. Ask you lawyer at least three things.
You should ask what their strategy for handling your case would be. They should be able to give you at least a general answer and go over the process with you. You should ask when the last time they took a case all the way to court. Most cases settle. You may not want to go to court. But the lawyers that never go to court don’t get the best offers from insurance companies. Lawyers willing to go to court if they have to will get more money for their clients, even the ones that settle. You should also always ask what they think the biggest problem for your case is. This will let you know if they really know what they are doing. An experienced lawyer knows no case is perfect and should be able to spot at least one weakness in any case.
The Fee Agreement
Before you officially hire a personal injury lawyer you will have to sign a contract, often called a fee agreement. Personal injury lawyers should work for a contingency fee. This means their lawyer fee will be a percentage of any money they recover for you, typically between 25% and 40%. If they don’t recover any money you don’t pay their fees. You will have to pay certain costs out of your pocket, regardless of if you win or lose. These are things like court fees.
Hiring a lawyer doesn’t have to be a big ordeal. If you are prepared you will have a better chance of finding a great lawyer.