An experienced auto accident attorney is needed to help you navigate the complicated legal system to guarantee that you are compensated fully for your injuries and receive justice.
A car accident can seemingly destroy your life. From a damaged vehicle, to medical injuries, to the pain and suffering that you go through, it can turn your world upside down. And with bills piling up there is no doubt that you deserve compensation.
However, getting the full amount of compensation you deserve is tricky. Remember, your goal isn’t to financially destroy the driver that hit you. Rather its to get their insurance company to pay you what they OWE you.
The problem is insurance companies are experts in knowing what you deserve, but they are also experts in saving themselves money. To get the full amount of what you deserve, including money to pay back your medical bills, pain and suffering, property damage, lost wages, and any future damages you may incur, you need an expert on your side fighting for your rights, and making sure that you get a fair deal.
When Should You Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident?
When you have serious injuries
If you are considering whether to hire an auto accident attorney, there is a large chance you need one.
If you had substantial injuries, such as injuries that caused you to miss work, or ongoing injuries creating pain and suffering, a personal injury attorney is almost always a good idea. Medical bills can get expensive quickly, and current injuries can turn into future injuries.
Auto accident attorneys know not only how to get you compensation for the damages you owe creditors, but also know how to get you money for your future injuries, and for the mere hypothetical damages, such as pain and suffering.
When Should You Not Hire an Auto Accident Attorney?
When you have minor injuries
You may not want an attorney if you were not injured or had only mild injuries such as bruises that did not require medical attention. Vehicular damage by itself may not amount to much and working with an opposing insurance company to get the value of your car back may not be impossible.
However, be careful. Collect all information from all parties, and make sure to be checked out by a doctor. “Invisible” injuries that are not visible at the time of the accident but show up at a later date are not uncommon.
When you are at fault
You also do not want an auto accident attorney if you are unquestionably at fault for the accident. In these cases, you may want to let bygones be bygones and accept, no matter how hard it is, that you were in the wrong.
If you need a defense attorney, your insurance company will usually provide one for you. With that being said, if you are unsure of fault, you may still want to speak to a personal injury attorney so that they can give you an honest evaluation of your case.
Can You Seek Compensation for Damages Caused by a Car Accident on Your Own?
Yes. But it’s typically not a good idea.
In situations where you are injured, representing yourself is a dangerous game. Not only will you be going against a team of professionals who worked in this area of law for years, but you will also be going against a team of professionals who can spend hours upon hours on your case.
The insurance companies are well trained in the law, the legal process, and nuances that they can utilize to win cases.
While you certainly can represent yourself if you have the time, there is little doubt you will get better representation, and results, by having your very own experienced expert on your side.
Auto accident lawyers know the tricks the insurance companies utilize, can generally spend a substantial more amount of time on your case, and already know the process they have to go through in an auto accident claim.
All of this essentially makes attorneys more effective at advocating for your rights.
Auto accident attorneys are generally not expensive
Furthermore, personal injury attorneys that take contingency fees are not expensive. These types of auto accident attorneys take a percentage of the damages after settlement or a win in your case.
In most cases, this settlement percentage covers all of your fees, and, as the classic commercial goes, if you lose your case you generally pay nothing. Such contingency fee agreements also push your attorney to do better work for you. Rather than hourly attorneys who are incentivized to simply work more hours on your case, contingency fee attorneys are incentivized to work efficiently, and get the most money possible for you to take home.
These factors make having a personal injury attorney a no brainer in any case with serious injuries.
When should I represent myself?
It may be okay to represent yourself in situations where you have very small amount of vehicular damages, or where you simply don’t care about your damages. In these situations, working directly with the opponent insurance company is not a terrible idea.
How Do You Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?
Hiring a personal injury attorney is generally not difficult. Nearly all contingent fee attorneys provide free consultations of your case and may refer you to other attorneys if they do not find that your case fits their firm. With so many attorneys, the real difficulty is finding an attorney that fits your needs.
“Personal injury” is a broad field that includes subject matter other than auto accidents. It could also include other types of injuries such as slip and falls, or on work injuries. It is important to remember that an attorney who is specialized in his or her field will be more efficient than an attorney who is not.
Attorneys certainly can be, and are, able to have a mastery in many different legal subject matters. But just as you would not hire an attorney who has never written a will to complete your estate planning, you should never a hire an attorney who has never tried an auto accident case to represent you in your auto accident claim.
Experience matters and having gone through the trial and tribulations of auto accident case educates the attorney as the law in the field, the legal procedural nuances, and the tricks that the defense will utilize. Past practical experience in dealing with these issues will make your attorney more effective, more efficient, and more likely to produce the results you want.
What to Ask When Hiring an Attorney?
While a theoretical understanding that you want an experienced auto accident attorney is all well and good, there is a serious question as to how you find out if an attorney will actually produce results for your case. While an attorney will certainly evaluate your case during the initial consultation, you should also be evaluating your attorney.
Questions that are important to ask include:
How many auto accidents cases have you handled before?
Generally, you want the attorney to have had many, many, auto accident cases under their belt before they handle yours. The more experience, the more effective they will be at representing you.
How many auto accident cases have you brought to trial?
Trial should be the last resort for any case, but it may indeed have to occur. You not only want a lawyer who is experienced in the law and settlement practices, but you want an attorney who has the skill to bring the case to trial if need be.
What percentage of trials have you lost?
A brutal, but important question is how effective an attorney is at trial. An attorney that avoids this question or mentions an exorbitant number of losses without explanation is not an attorney that you want representing you. It should be noted that every attorney will have some losses, many of which may be caused by client misconduct. Still, a high percentage is a red flag.
What percentage of your cases go to trial?
Trial is an important, but long, tedious and drawn-out process. While it may have to occur in some cases, it should not occur often. Settlement is substantially easier for both the attorney and client and can put more money in your pocket. An attorney with an extremely high percentage of trial cases may be an attorney who is ineffective at negotiating, which is an important part of the representation process.
Alternatively, an attorney who never goes to trial may be an attorney that is overworked and trying to cut corners. Sometimes trials need to happen. They are a hassle, but you want an attorney who is ready to go through that hassle if a trial is required to get you justice.
Who will actually be working my case?
In many larger firms, a higher up attorney will meet with you, and assure you that they are experienced. But in reality, these larger firms may assign your case to a lower-level associate. The associate may be qualified, but you would have to ask for the associates’ credentials as well.
If I lose my case, do I have to pay fees out of my pocket?
Most car accident attorneys have adopted the mantra that if you lose, you pay no fees. But some do have clauses that require the payment of fees if the case goes by the wayside. Practically speaking, you should find an attorney that doesn’t do this.
Ask to speak to past clients
Testimonials from past clients can give you an indication of how smooth the process is going to be. Even if the attorney was effective at getting justice for clients in the past, it may not have been an easy road. It is important to choose an attorney who is clear and makes sure to keep his or her clients up to date on their case.
So, Why Hire an Auto Accident Lawyer?
Overall, hiring an attorney who has the experience, knowledge, and skill regarding your case is extremely important so that you can receive the full amount of compensation and justice you deserve.
Going about it on your own, or with an attorney without adequate experience, can put you at the mercy of the insurance companies, and result in your receiving substantially less money than you need to put your life back together. In most cases hiring an auto accident attorney is simply a no brainer.