You can find lawyers for auto accidents everywhere! They advertise online, on TV, and even on bus benches and billboards. All this information makes it challenging to figure out whether an attorney is good at handling auto accidents or is a good match for your situation. Fortunately, there are ways to make it easier to find a lawyer for an auto accident. Here are five tips to help you find a personal injury attorney.
1. Know When to Call a Lawyer After a Car Accident
If you find yourself asking, Should I get an attorney after a car accident? chances are, the answer is yes.
You may need to call a lawyer sooner rather than later if your insurance claim doesn’t go as planned or if you face any of these situations after a car accident:
- Another driver in the accident sues you
- Your accident involved an uninsured driver
- Your medical bills and other damages are higher than the other driver’s insurance coverage limits
- The other driver’s insurance company denies all or part of your claim
- You sustained severe accident injuries, including fractures, traumatic brain injury (TBI), or mental health conditions like PTSD, anxiety, or depression
- Your assigned adjuster does not seem to investigate or communicate well
You also have a limited window for filing a legal action against another driver. These laws are called statutes of limitations. Depending on your state, your time limit may range from two to three years from the date of your injury. Hiring a lawyer can help you avoid missing these deadlines.
2. Ask Friends and Family for Referrals
You likely trust your friends’ and family members’ judgment, so ask them who they hired. You may find an excellent personal injury attorney match or learn who to avoid.
If you don’t know anyone who has recently hired an auto accident attorney, search online and read reviews. You can find reviews when you pull up law firms on search engines. One review site, Avvo, lists attorneys and allows former clients to review them.
3. Assess Experience and Success
Generally, you want to find an attorney who is skilled, professional, and reassuring. Most of this is personal preference, so take your time with this step.
Start with calling attorneys first. Those first phone calls will give you an idea of how an attorney communicates and whether their office runs smoothly. Calls also indicate turnaround time; you want responsiveness, not days waiting for a return call or email.
When you find someone promising, schedule a time for a consultation. Many attorneys offer a short consultation free of charge to discuss your case. If you’re not sure whether there will be a charge, be sure to ask.
Some lawyers for auto accidents run like ‘personal injury settlement mills,’ which take as many cases as possible and settle them quickly. Proceed with caution if:
- Staff rush by and ignore you
- You arrive on time (either in-person or virtually) and have to wait more than a few minutes
- You don’t get a response to emails or text messages within 24 hours
- Your consultation is rescheduled more than once.
The “mill” approach often fails to give your case the personal consideration or attention to detail it needs. You likely want to avoid those law practices and seek an attorney who treats you like a human rather than a potential settlement amount.
4. Seek a Contingency Fee Arrangement
Most personal injury lawyers charge a contingency fee for their services. The terms for this fee are outlined in a contingency agreement, which explains how lawyers receive compensation.
Unlike a fixed hourly fee, you don’t have to pay attorney fees until the lawyer settles or wins your case. Once that happens, the attorney receives a portion of your damages award as their fee. That portion depends on when the case is settled. Percentages can range from 25% (if the case settles before the insurance company gets its attorney involved) to 50% (if the case goes to trial.)
Here’s an example of how this works. Let’s say you sustained a bad whiplash injury, and your case settles directly with the insurance company for $25,000. In this case, your attorney receives 25% of the award as a fee, which is $6,250, leaving $18,750. You receive the balance after your attorney arranges payment of outstanding medical bills and other costs.
Any agreement regarding contingency fees must be in writing, so don’t go forward with an attorney if they never present a written fee agreement. Make sure you understand how much an attorney receives and when. Ask questions if any part of the agreement is unclear.
5. Trust Your Instincts
Choosing a personal injury attorney is similar to finding a therapist. You want to get along with them, but more importantly, you should feel safe talking to them. Successful car accident cases depend on you being as open as possible about everything, including items that may affect your credibility (past felony convictions, work issues, etc.). Your attorney can’t deal with those issues unless you share them.
Also, injuries may come with embarrassing symptoms and circumstances. Your attorney may need to provide these facts to insurance adjusters and the attorney for the other party. The impact of your injury may be important to the success of your claim. Don’t hire an attorney if you can’t discuss these details with them.
Your attorney should also listen well, answer your questions, and explain things you don’t understand. You should feel seen, and if that’s not the case you should find someone new.
Looking For Lawyers for Auto Accidents?
Finding a good lawyer for an auto accident doesn’t need to be complicated. Here is one resource to help you find a local personal injury attorney to evaluate your case.