After an accident, retaining an experienced lawyer can help level the playing field during negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance company. Auto insurers are always looking for ways to avoid paying out on claims, which means they may unfairly deny yours or offer you less compensation than your case is worth. Having a skilled negotiator representing your interests can ensure you aren’t taken advantage of by the other party’s insurance.
If you are searching online for “what should I do if I’m hurt in a car accident,” we’ve compiled a list of seven steps to take after an accident. These tips will help you hire the best California car accident attorney for your case.
1. Ask Trusted Family and Friends for Referrals
Start by checking with trusted family and friends to see if anyone has previously worked with a personal injury attorney. You might even consider reaching out to co-workers who may be able to provide you with a recommendation. If you worked with a different type of attorney in the past, you could talk to them as well. They will likely have connections with many types of lawyers. They may have a recommendation for a personal injury firm they refer cases to when asked.
2. Research and Meet With Multiple Law Firms
Next, you should spend some time researching firms online. If you received any recommendations, start with those firms. If you don’t have any personal suggestions, start looking for attorneys in your geographic area.
Delve into the content on their websites, read their “about us” sections, and see if they have written any blog posts. You can get a general feel for their experience and professionalism based on their content. Are they a personal injury firm that specializes in auto accidents?
It would be best if you also researched these attorneys online. Look up any potential disciplinary action with the California Bar Association, and see what other information is out there. Some attorneys are noted authorities and may regularly speak at educational events or even teach law courses. If community involvement is important to you, some attorneys list all their volunteer work and charitable causes right on their website.
When you have a few firms that are your top picks, it’s time to schedule meetings with each one.
3. Ask Pertinent Questions at the Consultation
Don’t show up to your consultations unprepared. Researching firms online is only one part of the prep process. Be sure to have a standard list of questions that are important to you. You should ask each firm these questions, so you make the most of your meetings.
Some questions to consider asking include:
- Will you be the attorney working on my case?
- What is your experience handling cases like mine?
- How long do you think it will take to resolve my claim?
- What will be my role during the legal process?
- How long does it take you to respond to client communications?
- What do you see as my case’s strengths and weaknesses?
Be sure to inquire about their fee schedule. Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis, but it’s imperative to confirm that rather than assume. When an attorney works on contingency, it means you won’t pay anything unless they successfully recover compensation in your case. Your attorney will then take their fees and costs from that, which is usually a percentage of your total settlement.
It’s also a good idea to talk about what happens if your case goes into litigation. Make sure the firm has the capacity and financial resources at its disposal to advance these expenses. Some smaller firms may need to transfer the case or partner with a larger firm. Other times, the firm may be at capacity and cannot take on more litigation. You need to have the full picture of what will happen if they cannot resolve your case through negotiations.
4. Bring Important Documents to Your Consultation
Before you meet with an attorney, gather all the documentation and evidence you currently have in your possession. That might be an accident report, photographs, hospital records, etc. Anything you have that an attorney can review will help them get a better picture of what your case will be worth and how complicated it will be to pursue.
5. Review Case Results and Past Client Testimonials
When you are meeting with attorneys, ask them about their past clients. Is there one you can contact to get their feedback? Also inquire about the attorney’s prior case results and trial experience. Some attorneys have this information right on their website, while other times, you may need to review other documentation offline that discusses specifics of their top awards.
You might also want to discuss their professional network. You want a firm that is well-connected and works with some of the best experts. If your injuries are serious, your attorney may need to hire expert witnesses to testify on your behalf. You want a firm that already has a rapport with medical professionals, accident reconstructionists, vocational experts, etc.
6. Take Time to Review Your Options
Don’t retain an attorney right there in the office. Take some time to review all your options after you have met with your top choices. Is there one attorney you felt more comfortable with during your meetings? Does one firm charge hourly? If so, you need to verify you can afford the costs, especially if your case ends up in litigation.
7. Choose an Attorney Who Has Experience Handling Similar Cases
At the end of all this, you should decide on the California car accident lawyer who best fits your needs. Make sure this attorney has a proven record of success handling claims similar to yours, especially if yours has complex issues. For example, consider an accident with multiple vehicles involved, disputed liability, and a potential claim against an automobile manufacturer. You want an attorney who has experience with defective product cases. Don’t choose an attorney who has limited trial experience, all of which were relatively minor injury accidents.
Schedule a Consultation With The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP Today
If you were injured in a car accident due to someone else’s negligence, let the skilled California auto accident lawyers at The Law Offices of Young Wooldridge, LLP help. Contact our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We have years of experience helping clients successfully resolve their injury claims. Let us help you fight for the compensation you deserve.