Which lawyer to hire for your case will be one of the most important decisions you make after a car accident. This decision could make the difference between a fair outcome and an outcome that leaves your health and finances in jeopardy.
Fortunately, you do not need to make this decision blindly. Instead, you can use the free consultation offered by most injury lawyers to ensure the lawyer fits your expectations.
Here is some information about what to ask a car accident lawyer before hiring them.
How Free Consultations Work
Free consultations give both you and the prospective lawyer the chance to meet and talk. During this consultation, you will ask the lawyer questions to see if the lawyer can handle your case. The lawyer will also ask you questions to make sure the he or she can represent you.
The lawyer must keep confidential everything you disclose during your consultation. You should have an open and honest discussion with the lawyer so that you both understand what your case will involve.
For example, if you glanced at your phone right before your accident, you should tell your lawyer. The lawyer can explain how this might impact your case and prepare the factual and legal arguments to handle the issue.
Some of the areas of discussion during an initial consultation should include the following:
What to Ask a Car Accident Lawyer About Your Case
Free consultations usually start with your story about your accident and injuries. This will help the lawyer:
- Understand your needs and goals
- Assess the merits of your case
- Evaluate the damages you might recover
- Determine whether the lawyer can handle the case
Based on this initial case review, the lawyer can answer questions like:
- Do I have a case?
- Are there any deadlines in my case?
- What best-case and worst-case outcomes can I expect?
- What additional information do you need?
- Do you see any problems with the case?
- Do you feel comfortable taking my case?
Some lawyers will only provide general answers until they can review the evidence in your case. After the lawyer reviews police accident reports, medical records, and medical bills, the lawyer can answer your questions more precisely.
What to Ask a Car Accident Lawyer About Their Experience
Experience can make a big difference in the outcome of your case. An accident lawyer should know:
- California tort law
- California civil procedure and evidence rules
- Claim processes for the major insurance companies
Most lawyers learn the basics in law school, but they truly fill out their knowledge through years of experience.
Some questions to ask about the lawyer’s background and experience include:
- How long have you handled car accident cases?
- Do you limit your practice to injury law, or do you practice in other areas?
- Have you previously handled a case like mine?
- What outcomes did you get in similar cases?
- What percentage of your cases settle before trial?
- How many jury trials have you conducted?
Some lawyers have pages on their websites with case results and client testimonials. Before your consultation, you should read some of these to understand the lawyer’s background and experience.
What to Ask a Car Accident Lawyer About Representation
You should ask the lawyer about your relationship if you hire them. Every law firm does things differently. And every lawyer’s practice reflects their unique personality and preferences.
The most important questions to ask a lawyer about the representation are:
How much do you charge?
Misunderstandings about fees can drive a wedge between lawyers and clients. Discussing fees at the initial consultation will reduce the chances of fee disputes.
Most injury lawyers charge a contingent fee calculated as a percentage of your settlement or damage award. This ensures you do not need to pay any upfront fees. It also guarantees that you will not pay anything if you lose your case.
How will you provide updates on my case?
The top reason for lawyer complaints is a lack of communication. Under the ethical rules, lawyers must respond to reasonable requests for information. But lawyers also get busy and cannot always respond to your phone calls or emails immediately.
Discuss how you will receive updates. And ask whether you can request information from anyone else in the lawyer’s firm. The discussion will remind the lawyer that you want to remain in the loop during the case.
Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer
You should not feel pressured to make an immediate decision unless you have impending deadlines. You should take time to choose a lawyer with whom you can have a strong working relationship.
Your case could take a few months to over a year, depending on whether you file a lawsuit. A poor relationship with your lawyer could make you both miserable and prove disastrous for your case.
When Michael Pines began his legal career, he represented the insurance companies he now fights against for his clients. More often than not, he saw how the law was being used against the very people he believed that it was designed to protect. When he saw insurance adjusters bragging about how they’d convinced grieving parents to agree to pennies on the dollar for their children’s wrongful death settlements, he knew he was in the wrong place.
Since 1992, our personal injury attorneys at the Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC. have been fighting for the people of San Diego. Now, when those injured in automobile accidents need financial help, or for the families that need to know that the loss of a loved one could have been prevented, there is a personal injury law firm in San Diego that is on their side.
If you or a family member has been injured, call the lawyers at Pines Salomon Injury Lawyers, APC. There’s never been a better time than right now to speak to a personal injury attorney—FREE of charge. Call us at 858-551-2090 or request a free consultation online today!
SENIOR PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY & FIRM FOUNDER
Michael Pines is a former insurance company attorney who graduated from the University of California Hastings College of the Law in 1987. While he was an insurance attorney, he learned from behind the scenes how insurance companies work and how they decide how much to pay injured people. Now that he works against insurance companies, Michael’s inside knowledge has resulted in significant benefits to his clients injured in car accidents. Learn more about Michael Pines