According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), as many as 2.44 million people were hurt in car accidents in 2015 alone.
Whatever the cause of the collision, injured in a rental car accidents tend to have far reaching consequences for those who are involved, often leaving injured parties to grapple with expensive medical bills, while also being forced to take time off from work.
In some tragic cases, injured parties could become permanently disabled, or even lose their lives.
While recovering damages cannot always compensate an injured party for the trauma that he or she got during an accident, it can go a long way towards helping injured motorists and their families get started on the road to recovery.
Unfortunately, filing a successful claim against the negligent individual or entity who is responsible for a collision can be difficult, as these parties often get representation by large insurance companies with access to significant funds and a host of legal representatives.
Retaining an experienced attorney can play a crucial role in leveling the playing field during trial or settlement negotiations, so we’ve put together a list of tips that could help you in hiring your own lawyer.
When looking for an experienced car accident attorney, it’s often a good idea to look to others for advice. Family members, friends, and co-workers, who may be able to recommend someone who is diligent and well-respected.
You could also ask for a recommendation from an attorney who has represented you in another matter.
Another way to get the contact information is to contact the bar association in your state. They have records of all licensed lawyers in your area. Online searches can also be helpful during this process.
Researching Law Firms
Once you have a few names, you may want to consider researching those specific law firms.
Many attorneys post testimonials on their websites submitted by former clients about how the legal team handled their own cases. Similar to an online review, these posts can play a critical role in helping you choose an attorney.
At this point, you should also evaluate each firm’s experience by assessing case results or client recommendations on the website. Taking these steps helps ensure the attorney you work with has handled this type of case before. It also assures they’re in good standing with their state’s bar association.
Meeting with Your Top Choices
Narrow down the list of law firms that could potentially represent you. Then, you should take advantage of free consultations to speak with the attorneys in person.
This will provide you with an opportunity to discuss the facts of your case. You can also obtain advice on how they would handle your claim. You may also want to ask the following questions:
Whether he or she has experience with car accident cases;
The firm’s record of success;
The fees and costs you can expect to incur if you file a claim;
The strengths and weaknesses of your own case;
Whether he or she would personally handle your case, or if it would be by another attorney;
How long they expect the resolution of the case to take; and
How often he or she will communicate with you regarding your case’s progress.
Initial consultations also provide a good opportunity to assess the lawyer-client dynamic with each attorney.
Bringing Important Documentation to Your Consultation
It’s difficult for an attorney to understand your case if you don’t bring important documentation related to the accident.
This includes any paperwork sent by your insurer. It could also include paperwork from the other party’s insurance provider.
You should also bring a copy of the police report from the accident. Lastly, bring any notes you took about the incident ahead of time.
All of this information can help the attorney determine whether they are the best representative for you.
Evaluating Your Consultation
After meeting with potential attorneys, you may want to consider evaluating the answers provided by each lawyer regarding your questions. At this point, it’s also a good idea to address:
Whether you can afford to pay the attorney’s fees;
How comfortable you felt during the consultation;
Whether the attorney has a heavy case load and will be able to address your own case properly; and
Whether you felt like the attorney has focus on your needs. Or if you felt they were rushing during the consultation.
After addressing these questions, as well as the other information you learned during the consultation, you should have a pretty good idea about your decision.
Asking Additional Questions
It’s not uncommon for claimants to think of additional questions after their initial consultations. You shouldn’t be afraid to make note of concerns and share them with your attorney at next meeting.
You could even call and ask the questions right away. The response you receive can also play a crucial role in helping you make your decision.
Assessing the Law Firm’s Professional Network
When choosing an attorney to represent you during your own car accident case, it’s also a good idea to ensure that whoever you choose has a solid professional network of experts, as your case will undoubtedly require the testimony of expert witnesses.
Ultimately, you will want an attorney who knows and has experts in a variety of fields, all of whom are knowledgeable, specialize in their particular fields, and are well-respected.
Communicating with Your Attorney
Once you have decided on which lawyer to hire, it’s important to ensure that you communicate regularly. Regular communication will help you stay informed about the progress of your case. Plus, any accruing fees or costs.
Hire an attorney who is willing to learn your case inside and out. Then explain the process and progress of your case is important to the outcome of any car accident claim.