If you sustained injuries in a car accident, an attorney could help you recover your losses. They can support you through the insurance claims process and file a lawsuit on your behalf if one is necessary. But how can you find an attorney? Or, if you’ve already hired an attorney, what now?
There are questions you should ask your lawyer before, during, and after your partnership. Asking questions can give you more insight as to what could happen with your case. The more information you have, the better equipped you are to make decisions. Here, you can learn about some questions you could ask your car accident lawyer and what answers you could expect.
Ten Questions to Ask Your Car Accident Attorney
By asking certain questions, you can ensure you and your attorney are on the same page and understand each other’s expectations. Some of these questions may comprise:
Should I Accept the First Offer From the Insurance Company?
The short answer? Probably not. The long answer?
Insurance companies often reach out to the injured parties soon after the accident to make an offer. Usually, the first offer doesn’t account for each of your losses. Because of this, you should think twice before accepting an initial offer. An attorney can provide information about the value of your case, so you know what an acceptable offer looks like.
If you decline the first offer, you can still recover compensation. Typically, an attorney can negotiate with the insurance company until both parties reach a fair deal. By providing evidence proving the extent of your injuries, you could recover more compensation through negotiations than the insurance company’s first offer.
How Can a Car Accident Attorney Help With My Case?
There are many ways a car accident attorney can help with a personal injury case. Car accident attorneys know the law and how to look out for their client’s best interests.
A car accident attorney can:
- Investigate the accident: Attorneys can review evidence from the scene to determine the liable party. They can also gather evidence proving their client sustained the injuries from the accident in question.
- Draft a demand letter: An attorney can send a demand letter to the insurance company handling the claim. The demand letter includes the compensation you want.
- Negotiate with opposing counsel: If the insurance company does not accept the stipulations in the demand letter, your attorney can negotiate. They can determine the reason for the insurer’s offer and act accordingly. They may present additional evidence or turn to other financial recovery measures.
Attorneys can attempt to negotiate a fair settlement outside of court. However, they can represent their client in a civil trial if things don’t work out.
How Long Will It Take to Settle the Case?
Each car accident case is different, and therefore, each case takes a different time to complete.
The timeline for how long a case takes varies based on several factors, such as:
- The severity of the injuries involved
- If the investigation clearly labeled a liable party
- How long it takes for the parties to reach a settlement
- If the case goes to a trial
If the case goes to a trial, it can significantly increase the length of time a personal injury case takes. However, an attorney can fight for you during negotiations and help you reach a fair settlement out of court. If not, they can advocate for your rights at trial.
How Much Compensation Could I Recover?
The compensation you can recover in a car accident case depends on your situation. A large factor in determining the value of your case is the losses you suffered.
An attorney can look at your losses and determine which damages are recoverable.
Examples of compensable losses in a car accident case include:
- Lost income: If you lost income because your injury prevented you from working, you could recover compensation for that lost revenue. You could also seek retirement or insurance benefits.
- Medical expenses: Many injuries could require you to pay out-of-pocket medical expenses. You could recover compensation for those losses. Medical expenses could include the costs of emergency room treatments, ambulance transportation, diagnostic tests, surgeries, medications, and hospitalizations related to your injuries.
- Rehabilitative care: Depending on the type of injury you sustained, you could require rehabilitative treatments, such as physical or occupational therapy, to increase your mobility.
- Pain and suffering: In some cases, injury victims can recover compensation for the physical pain they experienced because of their injuries. An attorney can review medical records and speak to experts to determine how much you could seek.
- Emotional distress: Sustaining injuries can cause emotional distress for many accident victims. You could recover emotional distress if you suffered any negative emotional issues. An attorney can look at your medical record and speak to mental health professionals to determine how much you deserve.
Your car accident attorney can explain how much your case is worth. By asking this question, you could learn more about what you can seek.
What Happens if My Injuries Require Long-Term Medical Care?
If your injuries will require medical care after your case settles, you could include future medical bills as part of your damages. For example, some people who suffer injuries in car accidents require medical care for the rest of their lives. They deserve to get compensated for that. When you speak to your attorney, ensure they include the costs of future medical bills in your case’s value.
How Much Will I Have to Pay in Legal Fees?
A benefit of many car accident attorneys is that they don’t charge upfront fees or costs. Without having to pay anything upfront, all injury victims have the opportunity to hire legal counsel.
The best car accident law firms offer:
- Free consultations: Through a free consultation, you can learn if a car accident attorney is the right choice for you. You should prepare questions for the consultation. That way, you can get the information you need to choose a law firm that fits your needs.
- Contingency-fee billing: Many law firms work on a contingency-fee basis. A contingency fee means their clients don’t pay anything unless they recover compensation. If the client doesn’t recover compensation, they don’t have to pay their attorney. If they do recover compensation, they only have to pay their attorney a small percentage of their settlement.
Ask your car accident attorney about their fee agreement. You don’t want to run into any surprises during your case. If your attorney provides a transparent fee agreement, you can put your concerns about cost at rest.
How Will You Communicate With Me About My Case?
Knowing how often and in what ways an attorney will communicate about your case is helpful. By discussing communication expectations upfront, you can have a better understanding of how often you will receive status updates. Not knowing what is going on with your case can cause a lot of unneeded stress. Letting your attorney know how often you want updates from the beginning can help you avoid that struggle.
Also, ask what form of communication they prefer from you. It’s helpful to know if they will respond faster through email than through a phone call, for instance. If you have a more urgent matter, you will know the proper way to get through as fast as possible.
Will My Case Go to Trial?
The chances that your personal injury case will go to trial are lower than the chances of you settling outside of court.
Settling a car accident case means:
- The case could take less time. Personal injury victims can wait months before they can see their day in court. By settling outside of court, the case could take less time, and you could get the money you need faster.
- You may pay lower legal fees. If the case settles outside of court, you won’t have to worry about court costs related to your lawsuit.
Your attorney can provide more insight into whether your case will go to trial.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit?
Each state has a statute of limitations that provides deadlines for personal injury lawsuits. The statute of limitations generally runs from the date of the injury. For example, in South Carolina, the statute of limitations for a personal injury case is usually three years. Once the three years are up, you can’t file a lawsuit.
It’s critical the injured party files a lawsuit before the statute of limitations runs out. Therefore, it is important to consider legal help as soon as possible. Asking your attorney how long you have to file for a lawsuit can help ensure you don’t miss any deadlines regarding your case.
What if I Don’t Know What Caused My Collision?
If you don’t know the cause of your car accident, that’s not a problem. Your lawyer can investigate your case and gather evidence. They can review eyewitness testimony, the police report, and traffic camera records to learn what happened. They may also consult with field experts and use their insights to bolster your claim against the negligent party.
Considerations When Forming Your Car Accident-Related Questions
The questions above are just some inquiries that you could ask your car accident lawyer. Here are some additional considerations when thinking of questions:
Whether You’ve Worked With an Attorney Before
You may have worked with a lawyer previously on an unrelated matter, like a divorce or real estate transaction. In that case, you may already know what you want and don’t want in an attorney. Think about your other lawyer’s communication style, payment arrangement, and overall vibe. This could inform your decision when seeking an injury attorney.
What’s Most Important to You
Think about what you would value most in a legal professional. Do you want someone who promptly responds to your messages? Do you want someone who’s willing to manage the entire legal process? These answers could provide guidance when asking a potential car accident attorney questions.
Your Legal Goals
You and your legal team should share the same goal. Your biggest goal may involve recovering compensation for your injury-related losses. If so, then your lawyer should do everything possible to seek what you’re owed. This may include filing your claim, negotiating with insurers, and gathering evidence.
The Attorney’s Resources
You want your legal team to use every possible resource to pursue damages. That way, you give your case the best possible chance at succeeding.
Legal resources may consist of:
- Relationships with field consultants. Many car accident attorneys work with accident reconstruction experts, who offer specialized insight into how collisions happen. They use a combination of math, physics, and computer simulations to help them draw conclusions.
- Experience as a personal injury lawyer. An attorney’s experience could be one of their biggest resources. Learning from previous mistakes and relying on past successes could prove instrumental in seeking what you’re owed.
- Relationships with legal professionals. You want a lawyer who understands how local attorneys, judges, and other professionals operate. This gives them a “road map” of sorts when navigating the legal process. Also, if your case goes to court, their familiarity with judges and clerks can go a long way.
There’s No Such Thing as a Bad Question to Ask an Attorney
You might hold back asking some questions, fearing embarrassment or shame. You should never feel this way when consulting with a lawyer on your case. They should respect your curiosity and offer clear, honest answers.
You shouldn’t feel like you’re getting the runaround. If you feel that way during your first consultation, you’ll likely feel that way throughout your case’s progression.
You deserve to find an attorney who will advocate for what you deserve in the aftermath of a car accident. Because of the statute of limitations, many personal injury lawyers encourage claimants to consider their legal options as soon as possible. Do the same to protect your right to damages.