So you’ve been involved in a car accident and think you may have a case. How do you find the right attorney to help you?
You already know this is an important decision. In fact, finding the right lawyer from a good shortlist of car accident attorneys may be one of the most important decisions of your entire car accident case. We’re going to help you with that right now.
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You should do careful research and select an attorney who has years of proven experience handling personal injury cases such as yours. We want to offer you some helpful tips to find that perfect attorney to get you compensated for your car accident injuries.
Here’s Why You Need A Personal Injury Attorney
Research shows that car accident victims, particularly those with perceived “minor” injuries, are reluctant to hire a personal injury attorney for a number of reasons. Perhaps they don’t think they need one, they are intimidated by the prospect of talking to a lawyer, or they don’t want to get dragged into court like they see on TV shows. Or maybe they mistakenly believe that they could never afford to hire an attorney or that their injuries aren’t that serious.
Whatever the reason, the reality is that not hiring an attorney after a car accident can have long-term negative consequences on your final settlement or award.
While it’s hard to quantify exactly how much it helps to hire an attorney since there isn’t recent data looking into this issue and cases vary widely, one commonly cited study by the Insurance Research Council from 2004 found that 85 percent of cases where the insurance company settled a car accident claim were handled by a hired attorney.
In addition, auto accident injury victims who are represented by an attorney are awarded 3.5 times more compensation in settlements than those accident victims who represent themselves, according to the same study.
In this article, Enjuris developed a comprehensive list of tips and advice from reputable attorneys around the country about the benefits of hiring an attorney following a crash. Our goal is to help accident victims understand the settlement difference that having a great attorney on their side can make by providing answers to related questions like:
- What are the top reasons why people should hire an attorney?
- What advantages do personal injury attorneys offer in car accident cases?
- When should you hire a personal injury attorney after a car crash?
- Do you need a lawyer for a minor car accident?
On average, people who hired a lawyer received 4 to 5 times more compensation than those who didn’t. What’s more, you’re more likely to receive a payout when represented by an attorney.
What To Look For In Car Accident Attorneys
Before you even start doing searches it will pay off to have a good idea of the qualities and terms you are looking for in a car accident attorney. This may differ a little according to your case, your personality, your area of the country, even.
These questions will give you a framework for a list you can check off:
- Evaluate the complete team of staff, not just the partners or people who make up the public face of the law firm. Keep in mind as you research and interact with the firm that it may not be the same person you speak with initially who will be your primary contact.
- Firm age, size, experience. Awards and leadership roles in organizations can also be good indicators.
- Good judicial connections: Find out if they participate in the local bar association and contribute to campaigns.
- Comfort with going to trial: Find out how many of their cases go to trial and the success rate of those that do. Some lawyers will have this information posted on their websites.
- Have they tried or settled similar cases in your city or county? Do they have an office near you?
- Look for experience with your type of case specifically.
- Negotiation ability: What sort of settlements they have obtained (remember, 95% of personal injury cases are settled without trial). Again, some car accident attorneys will have this information posted on their websites.
- Your personal comfort with the lawyer. This can be a big one.
- Timing: Are they too busy to devote enough time to your case? Can you get a sense of how long their cases are taking?
- Past problems: Has the attorney ever been censured or disciplined by any legal or ethics committees in the past? You will want to look this up before contacting them, so you don’t waste your time.
- Past client reviews: Be alert to what others say about them, especially on independent review sites.
How To Find Professional Car Accident Attorneys
Ok, now you should have an idea of the sorts of things you’ll be keeping in mind as you look at various law firms and attorneys.
Next, find where to look to start putting together a shortlist of the best car accident attorneys, so you can begin with a strong pool of potential candidates.
There are several ways to find the names of experienced personal injury lawyers. Once you have gotten several names and numbers, you should talk to each of them and check out their level of experience and case results.
Ask friends and family
Talk to people in your personal and work network. See who has worked with a personal injury attorney before, preferably also on a car accident case. If you get a good referral to an attorney, put him or her on your list.
But do not decide to go with an attorney just based upon someone else’s word.
Different people will have different reactions to an attorney. You want to talk to the attorney personally and discuss your case, then make a decision.
Ask other attorneys you’ve worked with on different matters
If you have a real estate attorney friend, you can ask them if they have a recommendation for a personal injury attorney who could help you with your car accident case. Most experienced attorneys will know other good attorneys outside their area of practice.
It is very common for lawyers to refer business to each other, so this can be a great way to find a good attorney.
Legal referral services – but know quality can vary widely
Most state and local bar associations have a legal referral service where the names of attorneys licensed in the state are listed by specialty.
For example the Texas State Bar has a Lawyer Referral & Information Service that can help you find an attorney that matches your type of case and finances.
Note that the quality of a particular referral service can vary widely. Some of these services will conduct careful screening of attorneys, and list only the most experienced and successful ones.
Other referral services may list any attorney who is in good standing in that state.
Before you choose an attorney through a referral service, find out what its qualifications are for including a personal injury attorney on their list.