You may want to know the tips for hiring a car accident lawyer after getting into a car crash. These tips include seeking recommendations from people in your family or community, narrowing your search to a few potential candidates, setting up a consultative meeting to have your case assessed, and determining whether you would like the person to handle your accident claim.
A car accident lawyer can help you determine if you have grounds for filing a car accident claim. The lawyer can also pursue monetary compensation for the damages and losses incurred from the at-fault party or at-fault party’s insurer on your behalf.
How to Hire a Lawyer After a Car Accident
The first step after a car crash is to see a medical provider for examination and treatment. The physician will diagnose your injuries during the appointment and provide appropriate treatment.
Consider hiring a car accident attorney after seeing a doctor and receiving treatment. You will need legal representation for the accident claim if someone else was responsible for the injuries or losses you suffered from the accident.
The following is a checklist to guide you through the car accident lawyer’s hiring process:
Figure Out When You Need a Lawyer
A legal issue like suing an insurance company after a car accident requires the help of a lawyer. Though there are valuable sources of information you can use to learn about the law, the specifics of car accident law require someone with academic qualifications and professional licenses.
You need a lawyer for individual legal advice on your accident claim. The legal counsel is also important if the case facts are complex. You can rely on your lawyer for research help on legal matters, advocacy, and strategic advice.
Determine the Amount of Help You Need from the Lawyer
Lawyers oversee legal matters on behalf of their clients. When looking for one, you need to know the legal services you need. In the case of a car accident claim, a lawyer will oversee all communications and negotiations between you and the insurance company. The lawyer will also help you file court-mandated documents within the statute of limitations (time limits) for filing those documents.
Referrals may help you find a car accident attorney. You can get them from your family or community members who went through the problem you are currently facing. Ask them about their lawyers and their reputation.
However, never hire an attorney for your accident claim based on recommendations alone. People’s opinions on an attorney’s personality and style differ. Only decide to hire the attorney after meeting him or her and discussing the claim you are pursuing.
You can contact businesses that offer services to law firms, mainly focusing on personal injury, for referrals. They may recommend a list of law firms they believe are competent in car accident claims. Examples of these businesses include insurance companies, actuaries, and accident reconstruction companies.
Lawyer Referral Services
The Internet is a great place to find lawyer referral services. These online services recommend lawyers working in different practice areas based on their experience levels and track records. Lawyer referral services thoroughly screen the lawyers posted on their websites. They also list those accredited by the state bar association.
Research Law Firms
An online search for car accident law firms operating in your area of residence will yield a lot of results. Research the firm adequately to narrow the search to a law firm that meets your needs. Your research should focus on the following areas:
Areas of Legal Practice
Law firms have different practice areas, catering to various legal problems. As you learn more about a specific firm, focus on the firm’s reputation on the practice area relevant to your case. You should also gather information about clients and main competitors of the law firm.
The firm’s location will help determine whether its offices are easily accessible. Its defining moments and history will give you a brief timeline of operation over the years. As you look into the legal practice, learn more about the law firm’s partners, legal team, and future goals. Focus on its noteworthy cases from the past two years and its unique offerings.
Core Values and Reputation
Since law firms have a reputation to uphold when representing clients, you should look into the testimonials and reviews they get online. Focus on the tone of the reviews to determine whether previous customers were content with their legal services.
You should also find out how the law firm maintains its online presence through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Review some of their blog and social media posts to familiarize yourself with their values.
Consider the qualities that draw you to the law firm after gathering as much information about the firm as possible. Based on the information compiled, ask yourself whether the firm has the resources to handle your accident claim. Schedule a consultative meeting with one of the firm’s lawyers to discuss your car accident case.
Meet for a Consultation
The initial consultative meeting with a Chicago car accident lawyer can help you gather detailed information about the lawyer. It can also help you decide whether to hire that lawyer based on how he or she responds to your questions. Here are some things to expect from the meeting with a prospective car accident lawyer.
The meeting can help you share with the attorney the circumstances or facts of your case. You can schedule it over the telephone or online, depending on the contact information that the lawyer provides.
After you both introduce yourselves to each other, you should explain the events that led to the accident. The lawyer will also want to know the nature of the injuries you sustained from the accident and the damages you are pursuing.
Once you share the details, the legal counsel will ask if you recently spoke to an insurance adjuster regarding the incident. If you spoke to the representative, share everything you said to that representative. Other things the lawyer will want to know include:
- Whether you spoke to anyone else regarding the accident, including first responders, family members, friends, or other people involved in the incident
- The type of health insurance or car insurance policy you have
- Whether there were any witnesses at the scene of the accident and if they shared with you their contacts
You must give the attorney documents related to the car accident, including letters or emails from the insurance company, police reports, medical bills, and car repair invoices or estimates. The legal counsel will also expect you to share any videos or photos taken at the accident scene.
Be willing to share any evidence that can help demonstrate that you suffered losses or injuries and are not at fault in the car accident. The lawyer will not disclose the information to anyone, since the attorney-client privilege protects initial consultation meetings.
The Attorney Decides Whether to Take the Case
The attorney may offer or decline to take your case after reviewing it. If an attorney turns down the case, it is usually because of the attorney’s possible conflicts of interest or workload. It may also be because the claim’s scope exceeds the attorney’s experience and skills, or the attorney is not licensed to practice law in your area of residence.
If the lawyer offers to take your case, he or she will discuss the fee structure with you. Expect the lawyer to share his or her availability and lines of communication.
Decide to Hire the Attorney
The decision to hire a lawyer should rest on comfort and trust. Ensure that the lawyer is eloquent and willing to break down confusing parts of the case.
As you decide who to hire, determine whether the attorney has adequate experience to handle a lawsuit like yours. Also, look into the lawyer’s trial experience and negotiation skills. These attributes are essential when the case reaches the settlement stage (where negotiations are involved) or the trial stage (which involves arguments to support the claim).
Discuss who will oversee the legal representation in the claim. If the lawyer intends to delegate this task to junior associates and other lawyers, the lawyer should inform you about it.
Find out more about the legal fees and responsibility for paying litigation costs. Also, discuss how the payment model will work in your case.
Once you decide to hire the lawyer, sign a representation agreement or fee agreement to seal the deal. Your signature will confirm that you have chosen the lawyer as your legal representative. Also, find out whether the lawyer wants you to sign a medical release form to allow the lawyer to access your medical records from the hospital on your behalf.