July 4, 2024

What Questions Should I Ask My Car Accident Attorney?

Close-up Of Question Mark Sign With Gavel Over Wooden Desk
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You should ask your car accident attorney several questions, including both before and after you hire them. Asking the right questions can ensure you hire the most qualified lawyer for your case and receive the compensation you deserve. Continuing with questions during your case keeps you informed of what to expect regarding your financial future, relieving stress in an already stressful time.

Any attorney worth hiring will be willing to answer the questions you have. Car accident cases are often unfamiliar to clients, so it is only natural you will have questions and concerns.

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Questions to Ask When Looking for Your Car Accident Attorney

Before you may ask your lawyer questions specific to your case, you must determine which attorney should represent you. You can ask several questions during the search process to find the right lawyer for your specific needs, including:

How Much Experience Do You Have with Car Accident Cases?

Hammer gavel judge with car vehicle accident

Car accidents are expensive. Your lawyer’s responsibility is to secure compensation covering your damages and their fee. Therefore, you must be confident in your lawyer’s ability to secure a fair settlement or verdict.

Ask any prospective lawyer:

  • How often do they handle car accident cases
  • For how many years they have handled car accident cases
  • Whether they have handled cases involving severe injuries and costly damages

An experienced lawyer may be a more trustworthy and battle-tested lawyer.

What Are Some of Your Notable Case Results?

You do not need an unproven law firm leading your case. There are too many law firms with a proven record of results to choose one that does not have such a record.

Case results can tell you:

  • How many car accident victims a lawyer or firm has successfully represented
  • Whether the law firm is capable of securing large sums from insurers and other liable parties
  • Whether a lawyer is willing and able to win cases at trial

Keep in mind that different clients deserve different amounts of compensation. While large settlements and verdicts can be impressive, asking a lawyer about their results may provide a more nuanced picture of the firm’s capabilities.

How Will You Ensure My Satisfaction with Your Representation?

No two law firms treat clients in the same way. Some law firms go above and beyond to treat their clients like family, while others leave phone calls unreturned. You must hire a law firm with an excellent reputation for client service, and you should not hesitate to ask a lawyer how they will go the extra mile in serving you.

What Resources Will You Invest in My Car Accident Case?

One benefit of hiring a car accident lawyer is the firm’s resources. Such resources can include:

  • Multiple trained, experienced attorneys with the time and energy to handle your case effectively
  • Paralegals and other support staff
  • Relationships with experts whose knowledge and experience are relevant to car accident cases
  • Investigators
  • Financial resources

You may ask for a guarantee that a law firm will put its full might behind your case. You can elicit this guarantee by asking the firm what it’s willing to do (or spend) to win your case.

Are You Willing to Take My Case to Trial?

While most car accident cases end with settlements, you should hire a lawyer willing to go to trial should circumstances warrant doing so. A lawyer that is willing to go to court (and has a documented history of doing so):

  • Shows a fearlessness that anyone should want in a lawyer (civil trials can be expensive but potentially rewarding undertakings)
  • Proves that they are serious about securing the compensation their clients deserve
  • Is willing to invest significant time, effort, and resources in their clients

A lawyer with a proven history of handling cases in court may also gain leverage during settlement negotiations. If insurers or civil defense lawyers know that a lawyer is willing to go to trial, those liable parties may be more likely to offer a fair settlement (or risk losing even more money if a jury sides with the plaintiff).

Questions You Might Ask as Your Case Moves Forward

Judge gavel on legal book, collage with clock

Even once you hire a lawyer, you may have more questions worth asking, including:

What’s the Strategy for Securing the Money I Deserve?

Car accident lawyers can secure compensation for their clients by:

  • Negotiating a settlement with one or more insurers
  • Filing a lawsuit, after which they may negotiate a settlement or win a verdict after completing a trial

If you know your lawyer’s strategy, you can be ready to make crucial decisions, like whether to accept a settlement offer. While you may not need to know every detail, feel free to ask about the big-picture case strategy.

What Is the Expected Timeline for My Case?

While lawyers do not have total control over how long your case takes to conclude, your lawyer can provide a rough time frame. The expected timeline for your case may come into greater focus once your lawyer begins negotiating with liable parties.

Will You Inform Me When I Receive Settlement Offers?

Capable attorneys contact their clients when they receive settlement offers from insurers or other parties. Even so, you should not hesitate to ask your lawyer to reach out as soon as an offer hits the table.

Will You Please Update Me Regularly About the Case?

Every client has different preferences. Some clients may only want updates when a major decision is necessary, such as when a settlement offer happens. Others may want more frequent updates so they never feel in the dark about their case.

You should voice any requests about how often you want case-related updates.

The Key Question: Why Is It Worth Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer?

There is one question you must ask yourself: Should I hire a car accident lawyer to pursue the compensation I deserve?

There are many reasons to answer this question with “yes,” including:

  • The experience your lawyer will bring to your case which will allow them to overcome challenges, adapt their strategy as necessary, and charge forward toward a resolution
  • The financial support your law firm will provide which may lead to the caliber of the case you deserve
  • Your need to spend as much time as possible resting and recovering
  • The protection and guidance a lawyer provides which will ensure you’re not vulnerable to lowball offers or other bad-faith tactics by insurers

A car accident can disrupt your life in many ways, including your psychological well-being. When you agree to let a lawyer handle every detail of your case, you may find much-needed peace of mind.

Contingency Fees Mean You Can Definitely Afford to Hire a Car Accident Attorney

Contingency fees are the standard arrangement for car accident attorneys, and this fee structure ensures that everyone who needs a lawyer can hire one. A contingency fee means:

  • Rather than paying your lawyer by the hour or a flat rate, your attorney will receive a percentage of any settlement or jury award they obtain for you.
  • You don’t have to pay any upfront or out-of-pocket fees or costs to your law firm.
  • Your attorney will only receive payment if they perform successfully on your behalf.

Your lawyer only gets their fee if you get paid. This means that you and your attorney have the same goal: to secure as much compensation as possible.

Your Attorney Will Fight for the Entire Settlement You Deserve

Your car accident lawyer will take your entire claim or lawsuit off your hands. Attorneys and their teams (which include paralegals, investigators, and any experts they hire) will move your case forward as efficiently as possible by:

Maintaining Contact with Insurers

Your attorney will be the point of contact for insurance companies. Your legal team will:

  • Ensure that insurers have all the necessary information about your losses
  • Provide evidence proving who is at fault for the accident
  • Provide any statement you must provide to insurers
  • Arrange settlement talks

You shouldn’t worry about calls from insurance representatives or saying something that might compromise your claim. Allow your attorney to worry about such matters.

magnifying glass and evidence bag

Securing All Helpful Evidence

Car accident lawyers often prove fault for traffic collisions using:

  • Eyewitness testimony
  • Video of the accident
  • Experts’ reconstructions of the accident
  • Police reports
  • Photographs of vehicle damage

Your attorney will also use your account of the accident as part of their evidence trove.

Identifying Liable Parties

Once your attorney has obtained all relevant information and evidence, they will determine who owes you compensation for your accident-related damages.

Proving Negligence

Insurers and civil defense lawyers will likely require your attorney to prove negligence before they agree to a settlement, and your attorney will:

  • Establish that at-fault parties owed you a duty of care
  • Prove how the at-fault parties violated their duty of care
  • Prove that the negligent act caused the accident
  • Establish the damages you have suffered because of the at-fault parties’ negligence

Proving negligence is what personal injury lawyers do. Let an attorney make this argument as the foundation for securing the money you deserve.

Your legal team will prove the economic and non-economic harm from your car accident. Useful documentation of your damages may include:

  • Photographs of visible injuries
  • Medical bills
  • Doctors’ notes
  • X-rays and other medical images
  • Invoices related to the repair or replacement of your vehicle
  • Proof of lost income and other professional damages

Your attorney may also have a mental health expert speak with you. This expert can provide specific diagnoses for any accident-related conditions like depression and PTSD.

Calculating the Cost of Your Damages

Attorneys have systems for calculating accurate and detailed costs of clients’ damages. Rest assured that when your lawyer presents their settlement demands to liable parties, they will demand every dollar you are entitled to.

Negotiating with Liable Parties

When the time comes, your attorney will present documentation of your damages and their settlement demands to insurers. If you sue, they may present these demands to civil defense lawyers.

Experienced car accident attorneys enter negotiations ready for resistance. Your attorney will not be daunted if those who owe you compensation are initially unwilling to pay the amount you deserve.

Filing a Lawsuit and Going to Trial, If You Need To

While settlement negotiations can take time, some negotiations never lead to the outcome a car accident lawyer seeks. When this happens, an effective lawyer speaks with their client about filing a lawsuit.

If you and your attorney decide that filing a lawsuit (and possibly going to trial) is right, your attorney will spearhead the legal process for you.

Damages Common to Car Accident Cases

Wooden blocks with words 'Damages Claim

Car accidents vary in severity, and even the angle at which vehicles collide can determine how serious victims’ injuries are. Because there is such variance in accident types and outcomes, your lawyer will need to evaluate your unique damages before negotiating a settlement.

  • Medical costs: Whiplash is one of several injuries that commonly occur during car accidents and may be one of multiple health conditions you face. Your attorney will become familiar with your injuries, symptoms, and treatment needs as they value the cost of your medical care.
  • Pain and suffering: Car accident lawyers seek fair compensation for clients’ non-economic damages, including pain and suffering. Such damages can include physical pain, PTSD, depression, lost quality of life, sleep problems, and scarring and disfigurement.
  • Lost income and other professional damages: Your lawyer will calculate how much lost income and other professional damages have cost you (and will cost in the future if you’ve yet to return to work in full capacity).
  • Vehicle repairs: Property expenses are a common feature of car accident cases. It includes vehicle repairs, replacement of totaled vehicles, and temporary transportation costs.

You may have other accident-related damages; your lawyer will include them in your claim or lawsuit.

When Should I Retain My Car Accident Lawyer?

You should hire your car accident attorney as soon as possible. There are typically deadlines for filing cases like yours, so there is no time to wait before retaining your lawyer.