Every year in the United States, there are approximately
6 million car accidents causing injury to some 3 million people. About 2 million people receive
permanent injuries each year, and some 40,000 lose their lives.
If you’ve been in a
car accident, particularly one in which you were injured, you’re likely considering
what legal recourse you have. To answer that question, you need to consult
with an experienced lawyer who can answer your questions and give you
sound advice on the legal steps you need to take to protect your rights
and receive adequate compensation for damage to your vehicle and, if you’ve
been injured, potentially for your medical expenses and lost wages.
Finding a Lawyer
To find the right lawyer to assist you, it’s always a good idea to
seek referrals from friends and relatives. But you’ll still need
to do some research on your own. In general, you should look for an attorney
with substantial experience and knowledge of accident law in the state
where you reside. You should take the time to look into his background,
including education and training, check references, and investigate the
kinds and amount of settlements he’s won for other clients (good
attorneys will post detailed settlement information right on their websites).
Schedule a Consultation
You don’t want to hire a car accident attorney based solely on a
brief internet write-up or a short phone call. Take the time to meet with
him, face-to-face—the best attorney will be willing to meet with you to
evaluate your case free of charge.
Meeting with the attorney will help you gauge his level of commitment to
you case and willingness to work to get you the compensation you deserve.
Bring all relevant documents, such as your medical records (if any) to
the first meeting.
Ask the Right Questions
When you have that initial consultation, be prepared to ask the right questions,
How many clients do you have? You need to make sure that your lawyer will be able to devote the time
necessary to handle your case effectively. Lawyers who carry too many
clients are more likely to take short-cuts which could adversely affect
How much of your work involves motor vehicle accidents? Again, experience counts. You want a lawyer a substantial portion of whose
work involves cases similar to yours.
Have you handled many cases where there were injuries like mine? It’s not necessary for your lawyer to have handled cases involving
injuries precisely like yours (because each case and each injury is to
some extent unique), but he should have experience with injuries which
in a general sense are like yours.
What kind of settlement can I expect? Although it’s not possible for even the best lawyer to give you
an exact dollar figure, he should be able to give you a range of amounts
based on previous, similar cases he’s settled.
Will you be handling my case? Before you hire a law firm, make sure you know who in the firm will serve
as the lead attorney. And make sure you get assurances that you’ll
be able to contact the lead attorney when you need to.
How Do You Get Paid? Find out how you will pay your attorney, whether for example he works
on retainer or operates in accordance with some other fee structure, such
as an hourly rate or contingent fee.
Doing your research, meeting with an attorney and asking the right questions
are all important to making the important decision about which one is
best for your needs. In the final analysis, however, you’ll need
to trust your instincts and make an informed decision which includes your
level of comfort with a particular firm and attorney.
If you have been involved in a car accident and need legal advice,
contact us today.