Five factors to consider when hiring a car accident lawyer are:
Personal injury lawyers handle all types of accidents and injuries. However, not all accident lawyers do not handle car accident claims. Some lawyers specialize in medical malpractice, product liability or premises liability.
You want to choose a lawyer who has significant experience representing cases involving car accidents. Additionally, the lawyer should have experience handling the specific type of auto accident case.
For example, if your car crash involves a commercial truck, choose an attorney with experience handling large truck accident cases. Likewise, if your auto accident involves a rollover accident, choose an attorney with experience handling rollover accidents.
It can be costly and time-consuming to pursue a car accident claim. Therefore, you want to choose a car accident lawyer with sufficient resources to handle your case.
For example, does the law firm have sufficient staff to work on your case? If the law firm does not have sufficient staff members to handle the caseload, your case could fall through the cracks.
Can the lawyer afford to hire medical experts, accident reconstructionists, financial experts and other expert witnesses? To establish liability, expert witnesses may be essential to proving causation, fault and damages.
Honesty, accessibility and good communication are essential for a good attorney-client relationship. When you meet with an attorney for a free consultation, the attorney should listen to you while you explain how the car accident occurred and the injuries it caused. The attorney should also ask questions that help them understand your case.
Also, the lawyer should provide in-depth responses to the questions you ask. They should take the time to respond to your questions in terms that you can fully understand. If you have follow-up questions, the attorney should take the time to respond to those questions.
Ask the attorney how the office communicates with clients and outline their approach to client communications. For example, do they respond to emails, text messages and phone calls? How long would you have to wait for a response?
You can learn a great deal by reading online client reviews. However, understand that some clients may be angry because they did not receive the outcome they perceived they should receive. Therefore, look for reviews that provide insightful and rational facts to support the review.
Additionally, read peer reviews. Peer reviews are by other attorneys. Peer review sites include Martindale-Hubbell.
You might also want to ask an attorney you know for a referral. Local lawyers know who they would call if they needed a car accident lawyer. Therefore, if you know an attorney who practices in another legal field, ask them who they would call if they needed to hire a car accident lawyer.
Another good source of information is the state bar association. Check with the state bar association to ensure the attorney is licensed to practice law and does not have any complaints or disciplinary actions.
Most car accident attorneys charge contingency fees to represent clients in car accident cases. A contingency fee should not require an upfront retainer fee for the attorney.
The lawyer accepts a specific percentage of the recovery as their attorneys’ fees. Therefore, if you do not receive any money for your claim, you do not owe the attorney any fees. However, you could owe the costs of the case, so always be sure to ask the attorney about reimbursement or payment of costs.
The attorney may use a sliding scale for the fees. For example, the attorney may charge 33% if the car accident case settles before filing a lawsuit. After a lawsuit is filed, the fee increases.
Car accident lawyers base their fees on several factors, including:
- Their experience and track record
- The complexity of the case
- The fees charged for similar cases by other lawyers
- The type of case and/or the parties involved in the case
You may want to meet with several car accident lawyers to compare their fees to their experience and history of results. However, it is important to keep in mind that more experienced car accident attorneys who consistently recover money for their clients tend to charge higher fees than lawyers with less experience, skills, and resources.
You need to feel comfortable with the lawyer. If you do not feel you can trust the lawyer, do not hire them. Consider all the above factors with your ability to connect with the lawyer when choosing a car accident lawyer.Stephen Schultz is an attorney and co-founder of Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers, a St. Louis personal injury law firm, he is a proud St. Louis native and attended top-ranked Washington University School of Law. He has over 15 years of legal experience helping accident and injury victims. Contact us for a free consultation.