No one looks forward to the day when they have to hire a car accident attorney. If you need to do so, then that means you (or a family member) were in a bad accident.
When you find yourself in this position, you’ll need to select your lawyer carefully. A lot is riding on how competent they are. You might need to get money to pay for your pain and suffering, or you may need them to defend you and reduce the possibility of judgment against you.
With that in mind, here are some questions that you should ask your car accident attorney before you hire them.
1. Have You Worked on a Case Similar to Mine?
If you get help from an attorney specializing in auto accidents, then there are a few things about them you’ll want to know right off the bat. For instance, you’ll want to see if they have handled cases in the past that sound similar to yours. Their answer will matter, because:
- If they do not have the experience, they could botch your case
- They should be confident in the courtroom
It’s not in your best interest to get a newbie lawyer who has never spoken in front of a jury or judge. Everyone has to start somewhere, but when you ask your prospective lawyer this question, the answer you want is that they’ve handled lots of cases like yours.
2. Have You Won Cases Like Mine Before?
A follow-up question that makes sense if the lawyer says they’ve handled cases like yours is the outcome of those situations. It will not exactly fill you with overwhelming confidence if the lawyer:
- Turns red
- Tries to avoid this question
- Mumbles that they lost those cases
If the lawyer doesn’t give a straight answer, then ask more pointedly. Ask for specific instances where they won cases similar to yours, with dollar amounts. You can then research those outcomes if you want to. In the internet age, you can learn just about anything, and you can easily confirm whether or not an attorney is telling you the truth.
Once you tell your prospective lawyer everything regarding your car accident case, you can ask them how exactly they plan on winning it for you. They should be able to outline the details of the strategy they’ll use.
That might involve hiring an investigator to look at photos or videos of the accident scene. They may have their investigator interview witnesses or first responders if the other driver says things happened differently than what you claim.
If your lawyer looks blank or doesn’t seem able to give you a concrete plan for moving forward, they’re likely not the right choice to help you.
3. Do You Charge on a Contingency Basis?
This is undoubtedly a question you’ll want to ask. Pay structures for car accident lawyers vary, and you should be very sure that you understand how and when your lawyer will charge you before you sign anything.
If you’re seeking damages after a car wreck, and your lawyer charges on a contingency basis, that generally means that if they don’t win the case for you, you don’t pay them anything.
This is the opposite of putting them on a retainer, meaning that you have to pay for their services, whether they win or not. If they’re demanding money regardless of whether they win your case, you might want to look elsewhere.
4. How Long Could It Take to Settle My Claim?
You should ask them how long they think it may take to settle this whole affair. They should have details about the timetable if they’ve done this sort of thing before.
If they have experience in this area, then they can easily lay out all the details and an approximate timeline of what you can expect. If this isn’t something they can tell you about off the top of their head, that means they’re inexperienced, and probably not the best choice to represent your interests.
Picking a car accident lawyer is no frivolous thing. It’s not like deciding where you want to eat for lunch. You should choose your attorney very cautiously since the outcome of your claim could mean thousands of dollars either going into or out of your pockets.
A reasonable car accident attorney should have no issue answering any of these questions. If they are reticent, then you’ll want to find someone else. Remember, you need to hire the best lawyer you can to help you through this difficult situation.