What Questions Should I Ask My Car Accident Attorney?
Many car accident victims understand that an attorney can help them file insurance claims and recover compensation. Still, they don’t know what to ask or how their initial interactions with the firm will go. Knowing what questions you should ask your car accident attorney can make it easier to make the best decisions in your case.
Most law firms that take car accident cases provide free initial case consultations. During this time and in follow-up conversations after hiring them, you may ask many questions about your case. These questions, however, will help you better understand the possible outcomes, the claims process, and if your case might go to trial.
What Are My Options for Recovering Compensation?
Your options for recovering compensation following a car accident will depend on the circumstances, such as where the accident occurred, the applicable state laws, and the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage.
Most states allow victims to hold the at-fault driver legally responsible for a crash and recover compensation:
- By filing an auto liability insurance claim against that driver’s insurance policy
- By suing that driver, taking the case to trial, and asking the jury to award compensation
An attorney can assess your case to decide which approach might work best. Sometimes, they might opt to pursue both avenues at once. Most successful cases reach a settlement agreement, with only a few continuing to a jury trial, though sometimes you need to file a lawsuit to convince the insurance company to make a fair offer.
How Much Is My Car Accident Case Worth?
While this is a good question to ask, you should not expect a numerical answer or estimated range early on. Before a lawyer can estimate how much a case might be worth, they need to gather the documents showing your expenses and losses, understand your injuries and prognosis, and investigate the case facts.
However, your lawyer can provide a general answer to this question and explain the expenses and losses recoverable in your case.
- Medical bills, current and future
- Income losses
- Reduced earning capacity
- Property damages
- Related expenses
- Pain and suffering
Should I Talk to the Insurance Company?
Car accident victims should not speak to the insurance company before talking to a lawyer. Anything said to the insurer could hurt their financial recovery later. If you hire a personal injury firm to represent you, your attorney can handle all necessary communication with the other driver’s insurance adjuster.
Insurance companies often ask for recorded statements from drivers. They cannot help your case but could work against you and reduce the value of your claim. If you must talk to the insurance company, refuse a recorded statement and answer only basic questions about the crash, such as the time and location where it occurred.
Should I Accept a Settlement Agreement?
Sometimes, an insurance company will offer a settlement agreement before you have an opportunity to consider your options and file a claim. If this occurs in your case, discuss it with an attorney immediately. Usually, this is an attempt to close the case quickly and for less than you deserve. However, a lawyer can assess your options and determine if it might be a good choice for you.
Generally, you will not want to settle your case until your injuries heal and you have a strong understanding of the possible value of your case. That requires documenting your expenses and losses and estimating a fair settlement range.
How Can I Ensure a Settlement Will Cover My Future Expenses and Needs?
Car accident lawyers understand how difficult it can be to live with lasting injuries. When a crash victim suffers serious or catastrophic injuries, they could have medical bills and related expenses for decades to come. For this reason, you must have a good idea of your prognosis, ongoing treatment and care plan, and other details about your case before you begin settlement negotiations.
Most car accident attorneys have a network of experts they call in to help establish the possible economic and non-economic costs of lasting injuries. They could include doctors, specialists, economists, and more. An attorney can explain how they will document your possible future expenses and needs and seek fair compensation for them.
How Can I Pay My Bills Now?
Crash victims often have questions about how they can afford an attorney, pay their bills as they come in, and also stay current on their bills. An attorney can help put your mind at ease by discussing how they can stop harassing phone calls about late payments and offer their services with no upfront fees.
Unfortunately, negotiating a fair settlement or taking a personal injury lawsuit to trial takes time. You will continue to have regular bills come in during this time. However, you never have to worry about paying for your lawyer or their services out of your pocket.
Why Should I Hire an Attorney to Handle My Case?
When you hire a car accident lawyer, you get someone on your side who understands how these cases work. They have knowledge and experience handling cases like yours and can take the weight off your shoulders. The law firm can manage all aspects of your claim and/or lawsuit.
When you have an attorney handling your case, you do not need to worry about it. The time-consuming and frustrating tasks required to handle your claim on your own are no longer your responsibility. You have only one thing left to focus on: healing. You worry about your health and recovery; your attorney can take care of the rest.
How Long Do I Have to Take Action Against the At-Fault Driver?
Each state sets its own rules for how long you can wait to sue an at-fault driver. These deadlines are known as statutes of limitations. Generally, they vary from one to three years. You will likely lose the right to sue if you miss the applicable deadline. Exceptions exist but could shorten how long you have to act.
The statute of limitations is not the only reason you should act quickly after a crash, though. Evidence often disappears quickly. Some crucial evidence to show fault and liability, such as surveillance video of the collision, could last only a week or more. Hiring a car accident attorney as soon as your injuries allow could help you build a solid case.
What if My Loved One Passed Away From Their Car Accident Injuries?
Most car accident lawyers handle personal injury and wrongful death cases. If your loved one died from their crash injuries before they had the opportunity to sue, a wrongful death action may be appropriate. This type of legal case allows surviving family members and/or heirs to seek and recover compensation based on the losses they experienced.
Each state has its own laws about how these cases work, who can file, and the types of damages available. The attorney can explain your options and discuss how they can guide you through this process.
Do I Have to Sue to Recover Compensation?
Many car accident victims recover fair compensation without filing a lawsuit. An attorney may demand fair compensation from the at-fault driver’s auto insurance provider, backing their demand with evidence to show fault, liability, and the damages incurred. This could lead to settlement negotiations and a fair agreement.
Sometimes, a lawsuit becomes necessary, but it depends greatly on the circumstances. If there is a reason why your lawyer might need to sue in your case, they should discuss this process and what it means in detail with you. They should answer your questions and ensure you are comfortable with the answers before moving forward.
Do All Lawsuits Go to Trial?
When crash victims say they do not want to sue, they often mean they do not want the case to go to trial. Most lawsuits never go to trial. Instead, they end with a negotiated settlement. Negotiations continue in most cases, even after filing a lawsuit. Navigating the process, particularly engaging in investigating the case during discovery, often prompts insurance companies to increase their settlement offers.
A fair settlement might be possible after filing a lawsuit or before the trial date arrives, even when this route seems unlikely before beginning the process.
How Do Your Fees Work? What Do I Need to Pay Up Front?
Most personal injury law firms do not charge any upfront fees. The attorneys work based on contingency. Instead of getting paid from a retainer or hourly rate, they receive a percentage of the total financial recovery when the case closes. If they do not win, you do not pay.
Your attorney should be willing to answer questions about their fees and help you understand how this works. Sometimes, the percentage is negotiable. You should also ask about any other expenses you might be responsible for after the case closes.
Have You Litigated a Case Like Mine Before?
A lawyer with experience handling car accident cases can describe how they approached a case similar to yours and its outcome. You might want to ask about settlements in similar cases as well as lawsuits. Describing their experience at trial is also important because this detail could become necessary in your case.
Sometimes, an attorney may allow you to contact a former client or offer testimonials for you to read from others who were in similar circumstances. Their experience can give you a good idea of whether these clients were happy with the outcome of their cases.
Are You Available to Answer Questions and Address My Concerns Promptly?
Unfortunately, crash victims often find their lawyers too busy to answer their questions or address their concerns. Ideally, you want to choose a law firm whose communication style matches your own.
Consider these questions:
- How often will you provide updates?
- What are your options for contacting your attorney or team?
- If the attorney is not available, who can take your call or answer your email?
A good car accident attorney may not promise to always respond immediately to your inquiries, but they should have a system to ensure someone reads your communications and addresses them quickly. They should also provide regular case updates and have someone familiar with your case available to answer questions during business hours.
A Law Firm Near You Can Discuss Your Car Accident Case
You can possibly speak to a team representative at a local personal injury firm in a free consultation today. This call could give you a chance to ask questions and evaluate if the firm is a good fit for you. You can also share information about the case and learn how the team approaches similar crash cases. Their lawyer or team representative could also talk to you about your legal options and provide answers to your most pressing questions. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.