Steven A. Bagen | April 24, 2023 | Car Accidents
Deciding to take legal action after a car accident comes with many concerns, and the first step for seeking compensation is to speak to a lawyer. You might have hundreds of questions running through your mind, and a car accident lawyer can answer them.
This is only one reason why you can benefit from having one review your case. During an initial consultation, you can ask questions about your claim and the attorney handling your case to quell some fears and determine if the car accident attorney is a good fit.
What Are Your Fees?
Injury victims’ first question is often how much they will have to pay for legal assistance. While fees can vary depending on your case type, personal injury lawyers usually follow a contingency rule. Your car accident lawyer will take a fee if they win your case. If they do not win your case, they take no fee. Finding out the costs of representation can help victims plan for the future.
What Is Your Legal Focus?
Injury lawyers can address various types of cases within the space. First, you want to find a personal injury law firm, not a criminal or family lawyer. Once you narrow that down, you will want a law firm that primarily handles car accidents. You should ask what types of car crash cases the law firm typically takes on.
How Long Have You Practiced Personal Injury Law?
Personal injury laws vary by state and are updated periodically. The personal injury spectrum includes car accidents, product liability, slip and fall, medical malpractice, and more. Car accident lawyers can only handle cases within the state where they have authority. So first, you should determine if the lawyer is local and how long they have been practicing personal injury law. They should have experience and knowledge of the current car accident laws of your state.
What Is Your Case Strategy?
You want to know how your car accident lawyer will handle your case. You can ask for a step-by-step plan for seeking compensation. The plan will look different for every claim because of its unique obstacles. You might not have a strategy during the initial consultation, but you can ask for a general idea. The initial consultation is to review general information, and once a thorough investigation occurs, a better plan can commence.
How Many Car Accident Cases Have You Handled?
You want an experienced lawyer handling your case. You should ask how many similar cases the law firm has dealt with previously. Not only should you ask how many they have handled, but also how many they have won. Ask about case results in situations similar to yours. You can talk to prior clients who are willing or review their testimonials.
How Many Clients Do You Handle Simultaneously?
Some law firms take on every case that comes across their desk, even when they do not have the resources to handle them. While this can bring them money, it might also delay your recovery. A claim that should initially take months can take years to settle when the law firm is overbooked. You want a lawyer who has time for you and resources that can push your case along.
How Long Will It Take to Resolve My Case?
The legal process is arduous, and injury victims can become frustrated waiting for an outcome. Medical expenses are piling up, and you cannot work, and all you want is the compensation you are requesting to make yourself whole. Looking at your injury severity and case details, your lawyer can give you an estimated timeline. The other party’s willingness to negotiate will also affect your timeline. When the insurance company wants to settle, the timeline is shorter than when they want to deny your full compensation.
What Outcome Do You Predict?
No one can predict the future, and there are no guarantees, but your lawyer can tell you what can potentially happen when handling your case. The outcome will depend on the insurance company’s willingness to negotiate. The car accident attorney can review your situation and determine the claim’s viability. You will want an honest opinion about your likely outcome, not just a story that raises your hopes. Empty promises don’t pay bills or win car accident claims.
When Should I File an Insurance Claim?
When you hire a lawyer, they will handle the claim process. After a consultation, the lawyer will decide if they can take your case and ask you to sign with their law firm. They might advise you to file an insurance claim immediately if you haven’t already. You might also need to wait until you have a clear idea of your prognosis. The key is to ask a lawyer about the timing of your case immediately. There are deadlines to adhere to, and the faster you take legal steps, the better.
How Do You Evaluate My Losses?
There are different methods of determining losses, and car accident claims can require extensive calculations. Your lawyer will collect documents, tabulate your losses throughout the process, and finalize the estimates when your medical treatment is final. They should explain how their firm values pain and suffering and other intangible damages.
What Damages Apply to My Case?
All car accidents are different, and the damages available vary. You can seek economic and non-economic damages for your losses. Some of those losses include medical expenses, property damage, lost income, and pain and suffering. The damages available to your case are unique to you, and your attorney will need to do some research to determine what applies to your lawsuit. Injury victims can help by saving receipts and documents that show expenses. Your lawyer will also include anything you pay out of pocket in your damages.
Will You Consider Future Losses?
The answer to this question should be yes. If the attorney you are speaking with says they will not consider future losses, that is a bad sign. Some injuries from car accidents can be permanent or long-lasting and require lifelong care. Your lawyer can review your injuries and calculate how frequently you need physical therapy, chiropractors, procedures, and surgeries. After determining your future losses, your lawyer must devise a plan to show future expenses to a judge or jury.
What Are the Weaknesses and Strengths of My Case?
You want an honest opinion about your case. No case is perfect, and you will want to know the good and the bad to prepare accordingly. You need a list of the strengths of your case as well as the weaknesses. Learning any areas of concern your lawyer has and will likely come up with for the insurance company is best. It is better to know what the insurance company will harp on and prepare than to be surprised later.
What Can I Do to Protect My Case?
Preserving evidence is the first thing you can do to protect your case. If you collected anything from the scene, keep it safe and give it to your lawyer. There is a lot of other evidence you have access to that your lawyer may not. Another step you can take to protect your claim is to refrain from providing a recorded statement or speaking to the at-fault party. You should avoid talking about the accident to anyone or posting about it on social media. Insurance companies can use your posts against you and plant people around you to get information.
What Essential Deadlines Will I Need to Meet?
When filing an accident claim, there are many deadlines to consider. The biggest and most important deadline to consider is your local statute of limitations. For personal injury cases, it ranges from one to four years, depending on various factors. The deadline can come and go, and if you fail to take action, you lose your right to seek compensation. The insurance company will have reporting deadlines as well.
As the claim moves forward, other legal deadlines will come up. If the insurance company wants documents from you, there might be deadlines. When your claim goes into litigation, more deadlines will appear. You should have an open line of communication with your attorney and law firm to ensure you know when these deadlines are.
How Often Will You Communicate With Me?
A question rarely asked is how much communication between the law firm and the injury victim will be. Most claimants have never worked with an attorney and have expectations that will soon fall by the wayside. The amount of communication you will receive will depend on the law firm. Some lawyers prefer to have minimal contact, while others prefer regular check-ins. Ask how often you will get calls, emails, or in-person meetings.
Aside from how often you will communicate, you should also find out who will communicate with you. Sometimes a lawyer will take on a case but have minimal access to their clients. Others will offer a direct line to them. Many times you will communicate with a paralegal or legal assistant. However, you can establish the basic protocols for the amount of communication you desire.
What Information Will You Need From Me?
You will need documentation regarding your crash, injuries, and case. Some of these are accessible to you, while others your lawyer will look for. You should ask your car accident attorney what photographs, documents, and other information you must provide and what they will handle. They will likely handle speaking to witnesses and gathering the evidence you can’t.
What If the Insurance Company Sends Me an Offer?
Do not take the initial offer the insurance company sends you. They will send an offer quickly with the hopes you will take it. This tactic is so you will take less than your case is worth. You can thwart their effort to maintain their bottom line by speaking with a local personal injury lawyer. Insurance adjusters want to save money and will offer low payments. You want a fair settlement and need legal representation to accomplish it.
Will My Case go to Trial?
There is no surefire way to know if your case will go to trial or settle during an insurance claim. Most plaintiffs do not set foot inside a courtroom. Your attorney will tell you this upfront. However, while the chances of going to trial are slim, you also want an attorney who prepares for the possibility. The car accident lawyer must be confident in their ability to handle the claim regardless of how far it goes. This is a loaded question and will likely help you determine if this is the law firm for you.
What Happens if I Lose the Case?
While personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, there is the possibility that you can lose. The answer to this question can impact your financial livelihood. The longer your case goes, the more costs you will incur. Some of the costs that your lawyer will incur that you can be responsible for include filing fees, medical record retrieval fees, and clerical expenses. You will want to ask a potential lawyer what their policies are regarding these costs. Some lawyers will charge you for expenses, and others will not, so it is vital to ask this question.
What if I Have Questions Later?
You want to feel comfortable asking your lawyer questions, and while you address many during an initial consultation, many will come up later. Ask your lawyer, who can answer your questions later. Gather their information if you have a point of contact other than your lawyer. You want all the contact information for the law firm and the person who can answer your questions. Also, find out the best way to ask questions through email or phone.
Call a Car Accident Attorney Today
When you are in a car accident, you will have many questions running through your head. Medical questions should be referred to your medical team, while legal questions should go to Gainesville personal injury lawyer. Many questions can be answered during an initial consultation, while others will take time. No matter the question, discuss it during a consultation with the car accident attorney.