Accidents are chaotic, leaving you with a horde of challenges. Talk about physical pain, emotional distress, managing the financial burden, seeking alternative means of transport, pursuing claims, etc. All these can wear you out and cloud your decision-making. That’s why hiring a car accident lawyer is critical.
A skilled one helps you through the legal labyrinths, ensuring your rights are defended. They also guide you in filing a sound claim for the maximum possible payout.
Not every lawyer out there can genuinely help you and successfully influence your case’s outcome. With 1.35 million lawyers in the U.S. alone, you may have quite a load to sift through. You must thoroughly scrutinize potential ones and only hire them when you’re sure they have a high probability of handling your case successfully.
This article discusses six questions that can help you vet prospective car accident lawyers.
1. What’s your experience with car accident cases?
Experience is a chief vetting criterion for accident attorneys. Hiring a lawyer who has handled a similar case to yours increases your winning chances. They understand all that the case involves and can confidently tackle it. They know typical loopholes that insurance companies can use to justify lower-than-deserved settlements.
They can also navigate the legal system seamlessly. They know the legal procedures in and out, what paperwork is required, and courtroom dynamics. A West Palm Beach car accident lawyer, for instance, is well-versed with local laws and can advise you accordingly, ensuring you present the required documents and beat all deadlines. They’ll be able to advise on every little step, ensuring you don’t mess things up.
2. What’s your track record of success?
Historical success is a significant pointer to future wins. If a given attorney has won a larger percentage of the cases they’ve handled before, there’s a high probability of achieving similar results with yours.
Such success doesn’t come by chance. It’s a result of the lawyer’s skills and proficiency, which they’ve honed over several years. So, an attorney with a solid history of favorable outcomes definitely has foolproof strategies that have a winning edge. They understand what works and what doesn’t in the courtrooms.
Ask essential details about past cases, including the amount of settlement the victim got and the court verdict. This information guides your expectations. At least, you’ll have in mind a rough estimate of the potential settlement amount. It helps eliminate surprises, where the payout you get is significantly lower than you’d envisioned.
3. How do you communicate with clients?
Seamless communication is the backbone of a cordial relationship with your lawyer. So, it helps to know what communication channels the attorney uses. Some prefer one-on-one meetings, while others fancy video calls, emails, texting, or phone calls. If you live far from them, regular in-person meetings may not be feasible. In such a case, you may want more virtual consultations.
Besides these lines of communication, dig even deeper and unearth their style. During your very first vetting call, observe how articulate they are, and their ability to explain complex legal concepts in simple language that you can understand. A lawyer who leaves you confused may not be an appropriate choice.
In line with this, try to gauge their listening skills. When you ask them questions, how empathetic are they? Do they give you time to air your views or do they keep interrupting when you’re talking? Are their responses satisfactory? Knowing such details helps you choose a lawyer with whom you can collaboratively maneuver the legal process.
4. What are your fees and how are they structured?
Fees vary from lawyer to lawyer. Understanding what your prospect charges helps you prepare adequately.
Most car accident lawyers follow the contingency system, wherein they only get paid upon winning your case. In this case, you must know what percentage of the settlement they’ll pocket. It typically ranges from 25% to 40%, depending on how quickly the claim is settled. Moreover, ask them if there are any additional costs you’ll incur, like court fees or investigation expenses.
When you know the financial implications upfront, you can decide whether to proceed with this lawyer or drop them and look for an alternative more affordable option.
Transparency is key in client-lawyer relationships. If you sense an attorney is hiding some details about the fees, you’d better not get into a contract with them. Hidden fees may significantly eat into your settlement, leaving you with very little cash. Lack of transparency can also lead to misunderstandings, fights, and heated arguments. You wouldn’t want such things to add to the pain you’re already undergoing.
5. Will you handle my case or outsource it to colleagues?
Some law firms have several attorneys. The one you initially speak with might not be the one who’ll handle your case. This may not be favorable for you. Consider that you’ve already established a rapport with the first lawyer you talked to. Getting introduced to a totally new face in the course of the legal procedures may destabilize you. So, it’s good to confirm whether you’ll stick with one attorney from start to finish.
Dealing with one lawyer is more convenient. You get used to speaking with them and understand their behavior. They also have a profound understanding of your case. Such a cordial relationship may positively influence the outcome.
While dealing with just one lawyer is recommended, it’s not possible sometimes. Some complex cases may require a team of attorneys to collaboratively work with you. In this case, it helps to know everyone that’ll work with you. Have a brief chat with all of them to build confidence before diving deep into the legal procedures.
6. Can you provide references or testimonials?
Testimonials are an excellent way of confirming a lawyer’s dependability. It’s customary today for clients to leave reviews after enjoying the services of a professional. Sites like Google My Business and Yelp facilitate this. About 90% of customers read reviews before making purchases. So should you when looking for a car accident lawyer.
Check if a given lawyer or law firm has profiles on such sites. Evaluate the reviews, sampling dozens of positive and negative ones. These help you have a feel of how working with the lawyer is. The more praise, the more confident you’ll be. But if a majority of previous customers have nothing but complaints, there’s no guarantee your experience will be better. Look for an alternative to avoid disappointment.
Choosing a reliable car accident lawyer increases the probability of winning your case and getting a decent settlement. The above questions will adequately guide you in vetting potential ones. It’d be good to interview several lawyers before settling on one. This way, you can compare several prices, perspectives, and approaches, and choose the best. Take advantage of the free initial consultations many lawyers offer. Use this opportunity to assess their suitability for your case.