Knowing the questions to ask a car accident lawyer can help you choose the right one for your unique situation. Your questions should focus on the lawyer’s area of practice, length of time handling cases like yours, success rate, and whether the lawyer actually will take your case through a trial. A lawyer that actually litigates cases and has a long history of successfully handling cases like yours will increase your chances of getting a favorable outcome. After asking your would-be car accident lawyer all the relevant questions, find out what he or she expects from your end. Doing this ensures that there are no gray areas that might jeopardize your claim down the road.
Questions to Ask When Finding the Right Car Accident Lawyer
What Is Your Primary Practice Area?
Law has many areas of legal practice. Different lawyers focus their careers on different practice areas. Before settling on a specific lawyer, you should ensure that he or she has the knowledge and skills that your case requires. You stand a better chance of winning your case when working with a car accident attorney who has dedicated his or her legal practice to car accident cases.
Can I Move Forward with My Case?
Seek an honest assessment from your prospective lawyer on whether your case is strong enough to qualify for compensation. A forthright attorney will weigh the strengths and weaknesses of your case and determine whether it’s practical to pursue compensation. The lawyer will advise you on the steps to take if strong grounds for seeking compensation are present in your case.
How Much Will My Case Cost?
Ensure you get a clear answer on how much your prospective lawyer will bill you for taking your case. Many car accident lawyers use contingency fee structures. In other words, they only recoup their legal fees after you’ve won. A contingency fee agreement is your best bet if you cannot afford to pay for legal services upfront.
Most car accident lawyers working on a contingency fee basis in Nevada charge 33% to 40% of your settlement or court-awarded compensation. Ensure that you are comfortable with an attorney’s fee agreement before signing it. Doing that lowers the chances of conflicts arising in the future.
Are You the Lawyer Who Will Be Handling My Case?
Sometimes the lawyer you interview might not be the one who will work on your case. So, seek clarity on who will work on your case. If your accident case will be assigned to another lawyer, schedule a meeting with that lawyer too. Also, ask if the lawyer is the one who will actually take your case through a trial. A lawyer that actually litigates cases and has a long history of successfully handling cases like yours will increase your chances of getting a favorable outcome. Asking these questions will give you peace of mind that someone competent is working on your case.
10 Questions to Ask a Car Accident Lawyer After a Crash
In addition to the above questions, you should ask the following during your consultation:
What Steps Should I Take After My Car Accident?
This is undoubtedly one of the most important questions to ask a car accident lawyer after a crash. The lawyer will advise you to seek immediate medical assistance. This advice applies even if you do not have any visible injuries or were involved in a minor car accident. Remember, even minor accidents can cause significant injuries.
You will only know the nature and severity of your injuries after getting examined by a doctor. Some injuries may take weeks or even months before they show symptoms. Other injuries may take years to manifest. With a proper diagnosis, however, such injuries can be identified and treated earlier.
Seeking immediate medical assistance also helps document your injuries. Medical records are instrumental forms of evidence in your car accident lawsuit.
What Should I Do to Protect My Right to Compensation After a Car Accident?
Ask your lawyer about the steps you should take immediately after the accident to safeguard your right to compensation. Your lawyer will advise you to document the accident scene and collect information from all involved parties.
Documenting the accident scene involves taking quality pictures and videos of the crash area. Exchanging information with the other driver and recording contact details of eyewitnesses are other essential after-crash steps.
The other party’s insurance company may sometimes ask you to record a statement. Your lawyer will advise you to avoid discussing the facts of the case or recording any statement with the other party’s insurer.
What Is the Filing Deadline for a Car Accident Case in Reno, Nevada?
In Reno, Nevada, you generally have two years from when the accident happened to initiate a lawsuit against the at-fault party. Failure to file a case within this time limit may lead to the dismissal of your case.
When Should I Expect My Car Accident Case to Resolve?
You should expect an honest answer to this question from your car accident lawyer. Depending on the injuries and length of treatment, a car accident case may take several months to more than a year to close. A lawyer who has handled cases like yours for years should have an estimate of how long your case might take to resolve. Although it may not be an exact answer, it will help you plan accordingly.
Getting a settlement or even successfully finishing a trial takes time. Insurance companies have investigators who perform independent investigations on your injuries. The investigators will want to assess every available piece of evidence for traces of fraud. This process may be lengthy.
How Often Will You Update Me on My Case?
Ask your lawyer to describe how often he or she will be providing updates on your case. Do not forget to get a clear answer on who will provide you with those updates. Some lawyers may delegate this responsibility to their junior partners or a paralegal.
What Should I Do if I Receive an Insurance Settlement Offer?
An insurer may sometimes give you an initial settlement offer a few days after the accident or after receiving a demand letter. Do not accept the settlement offer without consulting with your attorney. Insurance companies are profit-making entities – they might offer a low initial settlement to protect their profit margins.
Ensure a lawyer reviews any settlement offer from an insurance company before you accept it. A lawyer who understands the facts of your case and injuries knows the settlement amount that would cover the full extent of your losses.
Will My Case Proceed to a Trial?
It is crucial to understand if your case may proceed to a trial and who will be handling your case through trial. Often, the advertising lawyers will not be handling your case through trial and will hand it off to someone else. While it is true that most accident cases get resolved outside the courtroom, your case should be prepared as if it will be going to trial from the start. The attorney that you hire should not hesitate to proceed to a trial if the insurer fails to provide a reasonable settlement offer. The attorney should have the requisite skill set to battle it out in the courtroom before a jury or judge.
What Are the Recoverable Damages in My Case?
You should know which damages you are likely to recover. Have your attorney explain in detail the damages an insurer can potentially provide. Damages available in car accident cases generally include your medical bills, future care, lost income or wages, and pain and suffering. Your settlement or compensation amount, however, depends on the facts of your case and the severity of your injuries.
Will I Incur Future Medical Expenses?
This essential question eludes many car accident victims. Some injuries sustained in a car accident can be permanent. Other injuries may cause paralysis or worsen over time. Your attorney should know the professionals that could help assess your injuries and estimate future medical expenses.
How Long Should I Wait to Get My Money After Winning My Case?
Let your car accident attorney tell you how long it will take for you to receive your money after reaching a settlement or winning in court. This will help you organize yourself around the expected timelines. For instance, you can draw up budget estimates and repayment plans for any unpaid expenses.
What Your Lawyer Will Need from You
Your attorney may need access to certain documents and evidence to pursue your claim. To prepare for your consultation, you can gather the following:
Exact Date and Time of the Car Crash
Your car accident attorney will first need to get the basic car accident details correctly to prepare a strong claim. Ensure that you can accurately provide the exact time and date of the crash.
Detailed Description of the Crash
Your attorney will need a detailed account of the car crash. The more information you present, the better. Your lawyer may need to recreate the accident. As such, a detailed description of the accident will come in handy.
An Honest Answer on Whether You Accepted Liability
Your attorney will want to know whether you, in any way, admitted fault. Insurance companies could deny your claim if you admitted liability at the accident scene. You should be careful about accepting liability immediately after the accident. Such an accident may be due to numerous factors and causes, such as speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol/drugs, or a malfunctioning traffic signal.
An Accurate Description of Your Injuries
Your lawyer will want to capture all the details regarding your injuries, including any pre-existing conditions. The lawyer might ask for your medical records if you already sought medical assistance after the accident. If the injuries impacted your mental well-being, let your lawyer know.