We all know it’s not difficult to find an attorney. What is difficult is finding the right one for your case, especially when it comes to car accidents. Selecting the best car accident attorney for your case can seem like finding a needle in a haystack — there are so many out there, and many of them have dubious reputations. What should you know before selecting an attorney? How do you best identify which attorney is right for your situation?
1. Be informed — Use referrals, if possible, to select the right person to represent you. You want to know about your lawyer’s reputation, education, and area of specialty. You’ll also want to know the outcomes of any past cases similar to yours they have handled. Often, this information can be garnered from their website, business savvy webpages like LinkedIn, review pages, or simply a Google search. You’ll want to look for a firm that specializes in automobile accidents or personal injury. Finally, look into the reputation of the firm — if they have a solid background and good results, you can be fairly certain that any lawyer they employ will be competent.
2. Be prepared — Once you’ve done your background research and you are ready to set up a meeting with your prospective lawyer, you should make sure you are well prepared. Gather any important information pertaining to your car accident before you meet. Get copies of the police report, any medical bills, witness statements, and insurance policies. Any other information, documents, pictures, or evidence you have pertaining to your car accident should be taken with you to your first meeting. This will better prepare you and your potential attorney when discussing your case, and it will help you to assess if this lawyer is right for you.
3. Meet your lawyer — Your next step is to actually meet with your prospective lawyer. Most meetings will be held at the legal firm’s office, and the majority of initial consultations are free. Think about your first meeting like a blind date — you know pretty much right away whether or not there’s going to be a date number two. You want to feel comfortable with your attorney, relaxed and sure that they will be the best person to represent you. Feel free to ask questions, and don’t feel intimidated. A good attorney should have no problem providing answers to any questions you have. Some potential questions you can ask are:
- How much experience do you have in auto accident cases? (You may want to know how much experience they have had in general and how long they have been practicing as well.)
- How will you keep me informed about what is going on during my case? (Make sure your lawyer will be accessible — you don’t want to feel like you are out of the loop during your own car accident claim.)
- What will be required of me during the case?
- Will you provide information pertaining to all fees, billing, and expenses? (Make sure this information is easily understood, and if anything is confusing or seems unclear, your potential lawyer should be more than happy to explain it to you.)
4. Make a decision — After your initial meeting and after discussing the specifics of your car accident case, you will feel more prepared in making your decision. Ask yourself some of these questions:
- Am I comfortable with this attorney?
- Do I feel like they truly understand my situation and will best represent me and create a strong case in my favor?
- Do I believe that they have the skills, experience, and knowledge needed to handle this car accident case?
- Did they explain any legal issues surrounding my case in a way that I understood, without unnecessary “legalese,” jargon, or specialized terminology?
- Do I understand all fee arrangements for my case, and do I feel comfortable with those details?
If you can answer “yes” to these questions, you may have found the best attorney to represent you.
5. Shop around — You may go through this process more than once to compare different lawyers in your area. If you are seeking a potential attorney for your car accident case alone (without referrals from colleagues, family members, other lawyers, or friends), it isn’t a bad idea to draw up a list of reputable firms in the area and make some comparisons. Make sure you keep in mind any possible statute of limitations issues related to your claim; in Texas, for example, you only have two years to file personal injury claims, so it is important to be proactive about your search right after an auto accident happens.
A great car accident attorney will be able to handle the back-and-forth of settlement negotiation, anticipate any obstacles in the process, and know the best way to protect your rights throughout your case. If you follow these steps, you will be on your way to finding the best possible representation for you.
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