Being involved in a car accident can be a traumatizing experience, especially if another driver’s negligent behavior is responsible for your injuries. After seeking appropriate medical attention and reporting the crash to law enforcement, your next step should be to contact a qualified auto accident attorney.
A skilled car accident attorney will guide you through your legal options and protect your best interests after a collision. Understanding how to find the right attorney for your case can ensure you find a lawyer with the experience needed to recover maximum compensation for your damages.
What Type of Attorney Should I Call?
After a car crash, you might be wondering what type of attorney to call. Lawyers often specialize in different areas, such as personal injury, medical malpractice, or workers’ compensation. After a car accident, contact a personal injury attorney specializing in auto accidents.
This will ensure they know the intricacies and nuances associated with these types of cases, including:
- Understanding of state traffic laws: They know the rules of the road in California. For example, an auto accident attorney is familiar with local right-of-way laws or cell phone usage regulations that might be relevant to your case.
- Knowledge of insurance tactics: They’re aware of strategies insurance companies use to minimize payouts. For instance, they’d recognize when an insurer is trying to argue that a pre-existing condition is the cause of your injury, not the accident, and fight on your behalf for fair compensation.
- Skill in calculating damages: Beyond immediate medical bills, they consider future medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and reduced earning potential.
- Expertise in evidence gathering: They know how to collect and preserve vital evidence. This could mean obtaining security camera footage from a nearby store or witness statements.
- Negotiation tactics: These attorneys excel at negotiating with insurance adjusters, understanding when to push back, when to compromise, and how to frame a claim for maximum impact.
- Knowledge of liens: They understand how medical liens work and can negotiate with healthcare providers to ensure you’re not overburdened post-settlement.
How Do I Find an Auto Accident Attorney?
Sifting through possible auto accident attorney listings can feel overwhelming, especially when grappling with the aftermath of a collision. If you’re unsure where to start your search, try the following options for researching possible lawyers in your area:
- Lawyer Referral Services (LRS): An LRS is an agency designed to help you find the right type of legal assistance for your case. California LRSs are certified by the State Bar and can refer you to an attorney that specializes in your kind of legal issues.
- California State Bar Specialist Search: This system is a free online tool on the California State Bar’s website. It allows you to search attorneys by specialty area and California county, helping you find an attorney specializing in auto accidents in your area.
- Recommendations: Get personal recommendations from friends, colleagues, or family who recently worked with an auto accident attorney. Ask them about their experience hiring an attorney and who they would recommend for your case.
One of the best practices when searching for an auto accident attorney is to find and compare multiple potential candidates. Visit their websites, check past reviews and testimonials, and look for information regarding their experience handling auto accident cases.
What Questions Should I Ask My Attorney?
After narrowing down the list of potential attorneys, set up an initial consultation with your top few choices. Most personal injury attorneys offer a free case review, which lets you assess the attorney’s skills, experience, and outlook for your case.
Coming prepared with a few questions can help direct this consultation and give you the insight to decide on the law firm to represent you during your accident claim. Here are a few questions you can ask when you meet with your attorney:
What Are Your Fees?
Navigating the financial aspect of legal representation is critical, especially when dealing with a car collision claim. Most personal injury attorneys operate on a contingency fee basis. They only get paid if you win your case or secure a settlement. Their payment is a percentage of your compensation, usually 33% to 40%.
With contingency fees, you don’t face upfront costs when obtaining legal representation. After an accident, you will likely deal with lost income, high medical bills, and other expenses. A contingency fee arrangement lets you work with a seasoned attorney even if you don’t have money to pay them immediately.
When talking with the attorney, clarify the exact percentage they’ll take and if there are any other fees or costs. If you decide to work with the attorney, they should provide the fee agreement in writing, which you can review and sign before they work on your case.
Have You Handled Cases Like Mine Before?
It’s important to find an attorney experienced in cases similar to yours. This ensures they’re familiar with the specific subtleties, potential pitfalls, and strategies that work best for the best outcome of your case.
Ask the attorney questions during your initial consultation to determine their experience with vehicle accident cases. Also, ask about their success rates to understand how they will handle your case. Consider the following questions:
- Have you handled cases similar to mine before?
- How many years have you practiced personal injury law?
- How many auto accident cases have you handled?
- What percentage of your practice is devoted to auto accident claims?
- What is the average settlement for your clients?
Can You Estimate How Long It Will Take?
Understanding the potential duration of your case helps set realistic expectations and can influence your decision-making during the claims process. Ask a question like, “Based on your experience, how long do you estimate my case will take?” to get a glimpse into the attorney’s understanding of your situation.
Their answers typically stem from past experiences, the complexity of your case, and the potential court or insurance company delays. While no timeline is set in stone for personal injury cases, getting an estimate from a professional can help you prepare and know what to expect.
How Often Will You Update Me About My Case?
Ask about your lawyer’s communication strategy and ask them how often you can expect to receive case updates and new developments.
While you shouldn’t expect to receive daily updates, your lawyer should be able to estimate how often new information comes in. Ask them for a way to send them questions or concerns directly, such as email, phone, or another messaging service.
Find the Best Auto Accident Attorney for Your Case
Navigating the aftermath of an auto accident requires expertise, dedication, and a clear line of communication. The choice of attorney can affect your financial, physical, and emotional recovery after a serious vehicle crash.
As you journey through this process, prioritize finding a legal partner who understands California traffic laws. They should possess a positive track record of handling similar cases and value transparency in fees and communication.
The right attorney can help ensure you’re adequately compensated for your injuries and related damages so you can return to your life after a crash.