After a car crash that is someone else’s fault—even if it is not very serious—it is a good idea to consult with an attorney. It might be the only way to get full compensation for car repairs and injuries suffered.
Because there are so many lawyers to choose from, trying to decide who to work with can add stress to the already stressful situation of being hurt in an accident. Here are some things to consider to find the best car accident attorney to handle your case.
Why Do You Need a Lawyer?
Many people think they can represent themselves after an accident. But it is always a good idea to get an attorney’s opinion. Anything more serious than a fender-bender could get complicated, especially when there are physical injuries. Here are some reasons why:
- Dealing with insurance companies is complicated. And it is the insurance adjuster’s job to pay as little as possible for a claim.
- Some injuries might not show up right away. A victim could be hurt worse than they originally thought.
- The settlement offered might not cover all of the victim’s repair and medical bills. And it’s becoming common for insurance companies to hire private investigators to try to prove that a claim isn’t worth what the victim is claiming.
- An at-fault driver’s insurance company or attorney may try to blame the victim for the crash and refuse to pay anything.
Few people will know what to do if any of these things happen. An attorney knows how accident cases work. A good attorney will do everything they can to see that their client gets a good result with fair compensation.
Steps to Hire an Accident Attorney
It’s a bad idea to just hire the first lawyer you find on Google, or call a number you heard once on the radio without doing some checking around first. In fact, the best thing is to do some research to find one that will offer the right type of representation. These steps will help:
- Ask around. Friends, family, or coworkers may recommend someone who helped them when they were in a similar situation.
- Remember that advertising doesn’t guarantee results. Just because an attorney advertises on TV or the radio does not mean they are any better or worse than one who does not.
- Check reviews. Look online for positive reviews, and peer reviews from law societies. Many attorneys are willing to let you talk to past clients for a personal testimonial. Also, check the state’s bar association website to see if there are any complaints filed against them.
- Have a consultation. Most reputable law firms do not charge anything for an initial meeting. Potential clients should bring all documentation about their accident with them so that the attorney can review the case.
The initial consultation is the victim’s opportunity to explain the accident and find out if the attorney feels the case is worth pursuing. It is also a chance to ask questions that will determine if the attorney is the right person for the job.
Signs that You Have Found the Best Lawyer for You
A lot of information can be found about most attorneys on their websites, such as how long they have been in practice, or what type of cases they take. It is a good idea to prepare a list of questions before meeting with an attorney for the first time to find out even more. Everyone is different, and just because an attorney might be good, that doesn’t mean they are the best for you and your situation.
Here’s are the things to look for:
Look for someone who listens carefully when you explain your situation. They also need to communicate well, explain things so that you understand them, and keep you in the loop once they take your case. If you leave the consultation with more questions than when you arrived, they are probably not the best attorney for you.
Does the attorney believe you have a good case and are they committed to putting in the effort for you? Some firms may not want to take cases where the settlement will be small or the chance of winning is too slim. You want someone who will fight for you.
Experience and Track Record
Does the attorney specialize in personal injury accident cases? Experience dealing with insurance companies is important. Ask how often they reach settlements and how often they actually take a case to trial. While a lot of settlements might mean they are a top-notch negotiator, it could also signal to insurance companies that they accept low-ball offers. You want someone who knows when it is best to settle and when it makes sense to fight in court.
Personal injury lawyers typically get paid a percentage of the settlement they help you win. Find out up front how much that will be. Some attorneys will also charge you a fee if they do not win the case for you. (Hipskind & McAninch do not do this, but some others might.) Be sure to ask what the law firm’s policy is for these costs.
Some accident victims want to settle their cases as quickly and with as little drama as possible. Others don’t care how long it takes as long as they can maximize their compensation. The best car accident attorney is one who listens to your wishes and adjusts their strategy to match.
If an attorney suggests anything that doesn’t align with your ethics and values, look for someone else to represent you. If the tactic seems truly shady or unethical, consider submitting a complaint with the state’s bar association.
Who Will Work Your Case
Ask if the person you meet with for your consultation is the one who will work on your case and if necessary, represent you in court. Sometimes in larger firms, work is assigned to less experienced attorneys or paralegals. This does not mean they will not do a good job, and may not matter to some people. At a smaller firm like Hipskind & McAninch, on the other hand, you will work directly with the attorneys whose names are on the door.
Attorneys can be a great help in finding their client a doctor who is experienced in car accident cases or arranging for MRIs and other tests when needed. Look for an attorney who has a good network of professionals helping them represent their clients.
A No-Nonsense Ally
You deserve an attorney who will tell it like it is after an accident and give no false promises. Look for someone who tells you the truth, even if that means lowering your expectations about how much your accident claim is worth.
It is also important to find someone who you feel comfortable talking to. It should be someone who cares and does not intimidate you or make you feel your concerns are unimportant.
The Bottom Line
Being in a car accident is a stressful ordeal. You deserve fair and full compensation for your injuries—and an attorney who will help you get it. Hipskind & McAninch has helped numerous clients through this ordeal over the years. We would be happy to meet with you and discuss your case.
So take your time to do some research. The extra time it takes to find the right attorney will be well worth it in the long run.