Top 10 Questions To Ask During Your Car Accident Lawyer Consultation
If you’ve been in a car accident, a lawyer consultation can help clear any confusion you may have concerning your potential case. After all, car accident litigation can be overwhelming for those who don’t have previous experience using the law to secure compensation. That being said, it’s not always clear how plaintiff-victims should interact with their attorney to improve the process. What sort of questions should you be asking? Let’s take a closer look.
What questions should I ask my lawyer about my accident case?
Here are some questions to ask your lawyer about your accident case. This is not an exhaustive list! They’re simply questions for lawyers that are likely to be useful as you embark on this journey.
- What is the cost of legal representation?
- What are the potential compensation outcomes for my case?
- How long do you think this case will take?
- How should I handle insurance companies and adjustors?
- What experience do you have handling similar cases?
- What case strategy will you be implementing?
- Can my case be resolved through an out-of-court alternative?
- What will you be needing from me as the case progresses?
What is the cost of legal representation?
The cost of legal representation differs from attorney-to-attorney. As a general rule, however, plaintiffs’-side personal injury attorneys (which includes car accident attorneys) work on contingency. Contingency fees are unique in that they are only paid out to the attorney if they secure compensation on your behalf. In other words, you only pay if you “win.” It costs nothing out-of-pocket.
Further, the payment comes out of your winnings. It’s a percentage fee. This means that your attorney is incentivized to work efficiently to secure you the maximum possible compensation amount, as they’ll get more money by doing so.
What are the potential compensation outcomes for my case?
There is no universal rule that you can easily apply to predict the compensation outcomes in your case. Every case is different, and compensation outcomes can vary based on everything from the severity of your injuries, to the willingness of the defendant to aggressively fight the case to the bitter end. That being said, a “ballpark” understanding of your potential compensation outcome is still very useful strategically, as it will form the basis of your compensation demand. Your attorney will work with you to identify all the losses and calculate the overall damages.
How long do you think this case will take?
This is a good question to ask, but it’s not a “one-time” question. You’ll want to check-in with your attorney on this over time. See, as the case develops, your attorney will gain a clearer understanding of how much longer the case is likely to take to resolve.
This is because the defendant may be more or less willing to reach a settlement at various points in litigation. Perhaps at one point, they believe that they have a stronger case and are acting hostile. This could delay the resolution. Later, after you introduce evidence that further supports your claims, they might be more willing to finalize the case through a pre-trial settlement. This could speed up the resolution.
How should I handle insurance companies and adjustors?
Your attorney will almost certainly tell you not to communicate with insurers at all. That’s their job. If for whatever reason they feel you should be in direct communication with an insurer, they’ll provide guidance on what you can-and-cannot say. This will avoid any undesirable disclosures that could weaken your claims.
What experience do you have handling similar cases?
Before you hire an attorney, it’s a good idea to ask about their litigation experience. Attorneys who have litigated similar cases are more likely to understand the nuances of the case and the strategies that are going to be effective. That being said, inexperienced attorneys can sometimes be a strong choice, as they are “hungry” for a win and may invest significantly more time and resources into your case. Choose wisely!
What case strategy will you be implementing?
This is a fine question, and it’s important to always be kept in-the-loop regarding your case. For example, you will want to let your attorney know whether an aggressive case strategy (requesting a high settlement amount and not budging from the original request) is okay with you. Perhaps you’d rather settle for a lower amount and have the case resolved early. These are strategic aspects you should discuss with your attorney, as it’s important to be on the same page as them. Do be aware, however, that the legal strategy can change substantially as the case develops over time.
Can my case be resolved through an out-of-court alternative?
Though most cases can be settled out-of-court, there are other ways to reach a resolution beyond the traditional litigation process. Some cases that have alternative, structured processes for resolving the case out-of-court: mediation, arbitration, internal appeals formats, etc. Each of these processes has their own pros and cons, so you’ll want to discuss the possibilities with your attorney in detail.
What will you be needing from me as the case progresses?
Attorneys can only work with the facts. To ensure that your attorney has the best chance of success, you’ll want to make sure that you’re able to get them all the documentation and evidence they need as the case progresses. This is crucially important, as your attorney may not be privy to all the details. Be comprehensive in communicating all the details so that they know what documentation and evidence to ask you about.
Questions that car accident attorneys may ask their clients
- What are the case details?
- What documentation do you have access to? Is there medical documentation?
- Did you suffer any severe or permanent injuries (for example, brain injury or spinal cord injury)?
- Do you know the insurance policy limits of the at-fault driver?
- Do you have UIM (underinsured motorist coverage) on your vehicle insurance policy?
- Have you already secured medical assistance for your injuries? Remember, some injuries (like whiplash) can take weeks or even months to surface.
What are the case details?
Though most attorneys will conduct their own independent investigation into the facts, they depend heavily on the factual narrative that you provide them. During the attorney consultation, be honest and comprehensive in telling them the narrative of your case. Tell them all the details, even the ones that may paint you in an unfavorable light. Your attorney is your advocate. It’s their job to take all the facts and reorient them in a way that makes your claims look favorable to a court of law.
What documentation do you have access to? Is there medical documentation?
There’s a variety of documentation that may help to support your claims, from work-related documentation to medical documentation. These are invaluable, as they can define both liability and damages in your case. Consider medical documentation, for example. You’ll want to gather all relevant documentation, from daily health journals to documentation centered around medical prescriptions, to diagnostic evidence collected from x-rays, MRI tests, and any other diagnostic tests.
Did you suffer any severe or permanent injuries (for example, brain injury or spinal cord injury)?
You can recover damages for a variety of injuries, but your attorney is likely to evaluate just how extreme the injuries are first. Permanent and severe injuries can drive up the value of a case significantly, so they’re a good place to start assessing the potential compensation outcomes of your claims. Don’t be surprised if your attorney focuses on defining the extent of your injuries at first.
Do you know the insurance policy limits of the at-fault driver?
Insurance policy limits can be a key factor in determining case strategy. If the at-fault driver has no insurance, for example, then you may have to explore submitting a claim through your own UIM policy, or suing third-parties who are partially liable and do actually have insurance coverage.
Do you have UIM (underinsured motorist coverage) on your vehicle insurance policy?
UIM coverage may not be necessary, depending on your case, but it’s still useful information to know. As the case develops, multiple parties could be involved, some of whom may not have insurance coverage. Knowing the details of your UIM policy is critical, as it will give your attorney a clearer understanding of how best to position your claims to maximize your compensation.
Have you already secured medical assistance for your injuries? Remember, some injuries (like whiplash) can take weeks or even months to surface.
Seeking medical assistance early is invaluable for maximizing your likelihood of success. That’s because the defendant may attempt to argue that your avoidance of medical assistance worsened the injuries. They may also attempt to argue that your avoidance of medical assistance proves the injuries weren’t “that bad.” Be aware that many injuries are hidden and non-obvious, so it’s good policy to simply get some diagnostic tests done even if you aren’t sure that you’re injured.
Talk to a lawyer for free about your case
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, don’t just sit on your claims. Take action. Potential compensation is just a phone call away. Talk to an experienced lawyer today about your auto accident case. Ready to get started? Call us at 1-800-THE-LAW2 to get connected to a lawyer in our network. Consultation is free and confidential, so don’t delay!
FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
What are some tips on vehicle accident lawyers?
Vehicle accident lawyers have a number of characteristics that can help improve the likelihood of success in a lawsuit. Great lawyers are experienced, communicative, focused, and transparent. As a plaintiff, it’s especially important to have a communicative and transparent attorney, as they will keep you in-the-loop and will give you opportunities to provide guidance on how you’d like the case strategy to be implemented.
How do you win a collision case?
In every case, whether it centers around a car collision or not, to win you’ll need to show that you have suffered damages, and that those damages were caused by the defendant’s negligent, reckless, or intentional behavior. That’s the simple recipe for liability in a personal injury case, including collisions. Prove those elements, and you’ll be entitled to monetary compensation.
How do lawyers decide to take a case?
Lawyers each have their own decision making considerations, so you may find that one lawyer is willing to take on your case, while a different lawyer is not willing to do so. That being said, there are some common factors that most lawyers do consider to be important when evaluating whether to take on a case.
Generally speaking, a lawyer will want to take on your case if they believe that the claims are legitimate, that there are regulations and/or case law that supports your claims, that the damages are significant enough to make it worth their time and energy, and that the defendant would be willing to settle.
How often should I hear from my attorney?
Your attorney should keep you in-the-loop, but how often they contact you will vary from case to case. Some cases move quickly, and require heavy client input. In those situations, your attorney may contact you to discuss possibilities several times in a week. Other cases move slowly, and there may be waiting periods while the court processes files, or while the opposing side considers your settlement requests. In those situations, your attorney may not have to contact you more than once every two weeks for a quick update.