When you meet with a car accident attorney for the first time, you are interviewing the attorney to handle your case and in many instances, the attorney is also interviewing you. As a result, the attorney will hopefully ask you numerous questions about you, your case, and what goals you have for your case. In return, it’s important for you to make sure that you are hiring the right attorney for your case. How do you know you are? By asking the right questions.
Below are some good questions you can ask your car accident attorney during your consult with them:
What areas of law do you practice?
If the attorney you are interviewing has a lot of practice areas, then the attorney may be a very capable and very smart attorney who has knowledge about many areas of the law. However, it might also be that the attorney dabbles in a variety of practice areas without focusing exclusively on one or two. You should know if the attorney practices personal injury law regularly and what kinds of cases they take on.
How many car accident cases do you handle?
Again, some attorneys will advertise for car accident cases, but only handle a few cases at a time. It’s important to know whether the attorney is capable of handling all of the potential investigative, procedural, and legal issues that come up in car accident cases.
Have you ever tried a car accident case?
While trials do not occur as frequently as they used to, it’s important to know if the attorney has tried a car accident case. Some people put a lot of stock into whether an attorney has won all of their car accident cases, but the main thing you want to know is whether the attorney is willing to go to court for you. Because every case is different, it’s sometimes not about wins and losses, but rather whether the attorney can actually handle a car accident trial and if the insurance company knows the attorney will go the distance for the client.
How long will this process take?
Because you agreeing to enter into a relationship with an attorney to handle your case, you will want a rough outline of how long that relationship will last. Every case is different, but an attorney who handles car accident cases regularly should have an estimate for a timeline.
What should I do with my outstanding medical bills?
A few things to know here: If an attorney offers to pay your medical bills, walk out of the door. If the attorney tells you about an organization they work with that will loan you the money to pay your bills, run out of the door! There are a variety of ways that attorneys can help you navigate through medical debt that are ethical and will not put in a deeper financial hole.
Do you know how to handle liens?
Handling liens can be a big part of a car accident case, whether those are medical liens, ERISA liens, or medicare/medicaid liens. You want to make sure that the attorney you are hiring has a strategy to deal with those liens and understands the significance of what will happen to you if the liens are not addressed. Unfortunately, some attorneys do not handle liens properly and their clients are stuck with debt after a case is settled. Make sure the attorney knows what liens may exist and how they plan to handle them.
Who will I talk with at your firm if I have questions?
When you interview the attorney, make sure to check who your point of contact will be at their office. Will it be the assistant? Will it be the attorney or one of their associates? Will the attorney return your calls? What is their policy for meeting and speaking with clients? These are important things to know at the outset so that both you and the attorney can set boundaries and expectations for how the attorney-client relationship will proceed while the attorney works on your case.
What kind of resources do you have to investigate my case?
Because car accident cases may require a significant time investment both early on and during the trial phase, it’s important to know if the attorney is handling the case themselves or if the attorney has investigators, experts, and appropriate staff to work on the case as well. Most car accident attorneys will be able to tell you how they will work on the case, how their staff will work on the case, and how any included experts and investigators will help with the case.
What insurance is available to cover my injuries?
Unfortunately, many attorneys who handle car accident cases are unfamiliar with underinsured motorist coverage, uninsured motorist coverage, and medical payment coverage. If an attorney tells you there is no insurance to cover your claim, you should always seek a second opinion. Again, sometimes attorneys handle car accident cases sporadically and do not know there are a variety of avenues to explore when it comes to finding resources to cover your claims. An attorney who focuses on car accident cases will know that they need to look under every rock to find out who may share responsibility for your injuries.
Do you represent insurance companies?
Again, sometimes attorneys will work on a variety of legal matters, which also includes defending insurance companies. The question you have to ask yourself is whether the attorney you are interviewing is capable of defending insurance companies and suing insurance companies at the same time. There are successful attorneys who can do both, but there are also those who believe that true personal injury attorneys (or plaintiff’s attorneys) should only represent injured people.
Finding the right car accident attorney for your case is very important. Hopefully the above questions and tips will help you the next time you meet with an attorney to discuss your case. At the Law Office of Mike Campbell, we will gladly walk you through our answers to these questions and any other questions you might have about your case.