If you’ve been involved in a car accident, chances are high you’re going to need to hire a lawyer. It’s important to know which questions to ask your lawyer to make sure you’re getting the right information. It’s very easy to make mistakes if you’re not properly informed, and although most lawyers have a pretty good grasp on how to handle a number of unique circumstances and situations, it’s still good to ask them these questions.
5 Questions to Ask Your Attorney
Research from the Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT) shows more than 38,000 people die in car accidents and crashes on U.S. roads each year. More than 4.4 million are injured seriously and require medical attention. In fact, road crashes are the leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 1 to 54.
We bring up all of these statistics to say one thing: If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you aren’t alone. And if you were to talk to people who’ve gone through similar incidents in the past, they’d most likely give you a singular piece of advice: hire a good attorney.
How do you find the right attorney? Begin by asking the right questions – questions like:
1 What is Your Speciality?
Just because someone is an attorney doesn’t mean they’re equipped to handle your case. The best lawyers specialize. Be wary of a lawyer who claims they can represent any type of client or handle any kind of case. Another common example is with workers compensation lawyers if you are a Spanish-speaking member of the labor force, you want to ensure your lawyer clearly understands your situation and can guide you with experienced consultation.
You want a personal injury attorney who specializes in auto accidents. More specifically, you need an attorney who specializes in handling car accidents in your state. For example, if you’re in Tampa, Florida, you need a Florida car accident lawyer.
2 Do I Have a Strong Case?
Once you know you’re talking to someone who is equipped to handle your type of case (and who has the ability to provide educated thoughts and opinions on your situation), it’s time to pick their brain about the specifics of your case.
While most attorneys are not going to give you a full breakdown of your case without first signing an agreement to work together, your car accident attorney should at least let you know whether or not they think you have a strong case.
3 Have You Handled Similar Cases in the Past?
Every car accident is unique. However, most accidents can be placed into categories. (For example, car accidents involving trucks, car accidents involving pedestrians, drunk driving accidents, etc.) Make sure your attorney has handled similar cases before. This gives you some additional confidence that they’ll represent you well in your claim.
4 How Much Do You Charge?
It’s a good idea to ask an attorney how they charge. Most car accident lawyers will work on a contingency fee basis, which basically means they only get paid if you win your case or get a certain payout. Generally speaking, this amount is somewhere in the 20 to 40 percent range (of the total settlement). That means if your settlement is $100,000, you’ll likely owe between $20,000 to $40,000 to your attorney.
If you can afford to pay an attorney upfront on an hourly basis, then you may consider asking your attorney if they offer this option. You’ll then have to decide which option is most cost-effective. In the vast majority of cases, clients go with a contingency-fee basis, regardless of whether or not they can afford the hourly charges.
5 Will You Personally be Working on My Case?
You’ll definitely want to ask this question. When you work with some of the larger firms, you may find that the attorney you think you’re hiring isn’t actually the one who works on your case.
Instead, they pass off most of the work to paralegals and junior partners. (This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but you should know ahead of time.)
It’s also worth asking whether the attorney will be the one who represents you, should your case actually go to trial.
Putting it All Together
At the end of the day, it’s your responsibility to hire the right attorney. While your attorney owes you a legal and ethical obligation to represent you to the best of his abilities, everything ultimately comes back to you.
Work hard to hire the right lawyer and the rest usually takes care of itself.