After a car accident, you’re in pain. You have medical bills piling up, and you’re missing work during your recovery period. You can start looking for legal help online or ask your friends and family for recommendations.
In your search to find the best car accident lawyer in your area, pay extra attention to a lawyer’s:
- Educational background and experience
- Accolades and achievements
- Case results
- Client testimonials
- Payment structure
Write down all of the firms you think would be a good match, then narrow down your top three or four. From there, call each firm; most injury lawyers offer free, no-obligation case reviews. Ask them how they navigate the legal process, what you can expect from their firm and anything else of interest. The answers to these questions can help you decide which firm suits your needs.
What to Look for When Finding the Best Car Accident Lawyer Near You
The best lawyer for your car accident case depends on your situation. Everyone has different needs and preferences. Some factors in your search for legal help may include:
A Law Firm’s Educational Background and Experience
While you peruse different law firms’ websites, check out they’re about us page.
It should give you a rundown of each lawyer’s credentials and background, like:
- Where they went to law school and when
- Where they are licensed to practice law
- How long they have practiced personal injury law, specifically car accident law
- How long their practice has served clients in your area
- If they have practiced other areas of law or previously worked for insurance companies
This information should provide a good baseline. Usually, older law firms have more insight into complex cases than newer ones. However, you may not want to choose a law firm solely based on experience. There are other factors to consider when securing legal help.
The Practice’s Accolades and Achievements
Law firms love to show off the nominations, awards, and achievements they have attained, especially the most recent ones. For example, they may list if they’ve been recognized by prestigious organizations, like the National Trial Lawyers Association.
Also, check their Google Reviews. If a law firm has dozens of positive reviews, this could provide insight into its client satisfaction.
The Law Firm’s Case Results
Many law firms have a tab on their websites dedicated to their previous case results.
Of course, it’s important to look at these outcomes as a whole; but you should also take a look at the settlements and verdicts of car accident cases. They may provide further context into their case results, including the severity of the accident in question.
A Practice’s Client Testimonials
Whether they’re from the firm’s website, Google, or even word of mouth, client testimonials give you an inside look into what it’s like to work with the organization.
These testimonials may address key points, such as:
- How well the lawyer communicated with clients throughout the claim’s process (e.g., providing case updates regularly)
- The law firm’s level of compassion and understanding
- How the law firm negotiates with the liable insurance companies
- The firm’s willingness to take a case to trial, if needed
- If the firm protects clients’ rights throughout the legal process
- If the firm achieves favorable results for its clients
With anything else, you may see a negative comment here and there. Take it with a grain of salt. Sometimes, clients and firms don’t match whether the expectations were unclear or there was a personality clash.
You can decide if you and a law firm would work well together following a free case review.
The Services the Law Firm Provides
Take a look at the law firm’s car accident pages. There, it should offer a list of what services are offered to clients.
Common legal tasks include:
- Picking up a copy of the accident report from the police station or ordering one online
- Gathering evidence of the crash, like traffic camera footage, video surveillance, and/or photos of the accident scene
- Listing and identifying potentially liable parties
- Reviewing your medical records and consulting your doctors to get a clear understanding of your injuries and prognosis
- Assessing your current and future damages
- Meeting deadlines that the state enforces
- Handling all communications with every party relevant to your case
- Interviewing witnesses of the crash or hiring accident reconstruction experts
- Seeking a fair settlement for you during negotiations with the insurance company
- Going to trial if they cannot secure a settlement through settlement negotiations
Whether the Firm Offers Contingency-Fee-Based Representation
Many personal injury firms that take car accident cases offer representation on a contingency fee basis.
In this arrangement, lawyers:
- Don’t take any money from you upfront, by the hour, or out of pocket
- Don’t require any retainers to start working on your case
- Finance your case’s obligations, such as its consulting and filing costs
Your car accident attorney may only take a fee if they secure a settlement or verdict on your behalf. Their payment comes from this award, and they only receive compensation if you get reimbursed for your losses. This fee structure reduces your financial risk and helps you secure prompt legal help.
You Can Learn More About a Law Firm’s Services During a Free Case Review
As noted, many car accident firms offer free case reviews where injured claimants can explore their options. These hassle-free conversations are your chance to learn about your next steps moving forward and whether a certain law firm meets your needs.
You can gain insight into:
- How long the law firm has operated
- What your next steps should be
- What considerations could bolster your case
- How much money the firm has recovered for clients like you
You can also get the answers to some of your most pressing questions.
Frequently Asked Questions About Finding the Best Car Accident Lawyer Near You
Despite car accident claimants having different needs and experiences regarding their situation, they usually come to firms with similar questions. Below comprises a list of these inquiries. The following answers could help you make informed decisions about your situation.
Do I Need a Car Accident Lawyer to Handle My Case?
Representing yourself could create problems you’re not equipped to deal with. You have every right to partner with an attorney following a car accident. They can manage each of your case’s obligations without charging a dime. This way, you can entrust your case to a lawyer without worrying about your financial standing.
How Much Can You Receive in a Car Accident Claim?
There’s no average settlement for car accident claims.
However, your attorney may consider various factors when determining how much you can request from the liable party, such as:
- The nature of the crash
- The types and severity of the injuries you suffered
- Your prognosis
- Your medical bills
- How long you have been out of work
- Any out-of-pocket expenses related to the collision
- The emotional and mental effects you’ve experienced since the accident
Many states do not cap how much-injured people can request through personal injury claims or lawsuits. That being said, there are losses you could recoup that are not listed here.
What Damages Can I Recover Through an Injury Claim or Lawsuit?
As noted, the types of damages you can recover (and how much) ultimately depend on your situation and the laws in your state.
Still, recoverable losses in your case may comprise:
- Past and future medical bills: Healthcare-related expenses in your case could comprise the ambulance ride, diagnostic screenings, mobility aids, medications, follow-up appointments, surgeries, and hospital stays.
- Lost income: Sometimes, a car accident claimant misses work due to their condition. In that instance, they could recover lost tips, bonuses, commissions, hourly pay, salaries, business opportunities, and other benefits.
- Reduced earning capacity: If the claimant’s injuries are severe enough, they may have to take off work for the foreseeable future or opt for a lower-paying job that accommodates their injuries. Compensation could account for any loss of income.
- Property damage expenses: If your car was damaged or totaled, you may seek financial recovery for the repair or replacement costs. You could also include the cost of temporary transportation arrangements in your claim or lawsuit’s value.
- Pain and suffering: The pain and discomfort your injuries cause can impede your quality of life and inconvenience you. The monetary value of your pain and suffering depends largely on your circumstances, including the severity of your condition.
- Mental anguish: Since car accidents can be so traumatic, you may experience mental and emotional struggles, like insomnia, anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Scarring and disfigurement: Some injuries, like third-degree burns, can cause disfigurement, leading you to lose mobility and function in some or all of your body. They can also affect your physical appearance.
- Wrongful death: Tragically, some people lose their loved ones in car accidents. Legal beneficiaries can recover funeral and burial arrangements, loss of financial support, and their loved one’s final medical bills.
In general, the more severe your injuries, the more compensation you can request from the other party. This compensation provides a financial cushion that allows you to access the tools you need without facing financial hardships. With fair compensation, you can start rebuilding your life.
How Long Does It Take to Settle a Car Accident Claim?
It varies. Some claims take longer than others. Your case’s progression depends on how well settlement negotiations go and if your attorney takes your case to trial. If your case falls in the latter category, it may go on longer. However, most personal injury cases never make it to trial. Odds are, you’ll settle with the insurer before a lawsuit becomes necessary.
Another factor that plays a role in how long your case goes on includes the statute of limitations. This is a legal deadline by which you must file a lawsuit. In general, it ranges from one to six years, depending on state law. However, some exceptions may extend or pause the deadline, and a lawyer can examine your case to determine if any exceptions may apply.
In any case, it’s important to consult a law firm as soon as possible to ensure you comply with the deadline. If you put off finding legal help, you may risk missing the deadline. In that event, the court may deny your right to compensation, leaving you responsible for all accident-related losses.
What Challenges Could I Face if I Forgo Legal Help?
You’re within your rights to manage a legal claim on your own. However, pro se representation is fraught with pitfalls, some of which may threaten your right to compensation.
By yourself, you could have to deal with:
- Uncooperative claims adjusters
- Unfamiliar legal jargon
- Endless forms without clear meanings
- Unjustified delays
- Uncertainty about your next steps
A car accident lawyer has many important jobs, namely, understanding and assessing the cost of your damages. Without having a lawyer by your side, you might not know how much you’re owed. This could lead to you accidentally accepting an offer that doesn’t account for your injury-related hardships. This could have more negative ramifications than the accident itself.
Where to Find the Best Car Accident Lawyer Near You?
Ultimately, you’re the one who decides who the best car accident lawyer near you is. Write down a list of what you want in a legal advocate and determine which ones meet your criteria.
Then, contact them and begin your free consultation. This conversation is your time to see what the firm is about, how it can help, and what it can do to address your needs specifically.
If something isn’t clicking, listen to your intuition and move on to the next option. Picking the best car accident attorney can make all the difference in your financial, physical, and emotional state following an accident.