Stop! Don’t do anything else about your car accident before you read this article.
The truth is, the case is won by how well you (and your lawyer) handle your case. And that means you have to be careful about who you hire for your attorney.
Learn the best questions to ask a lawyer after a car accident to get the best results, below.
1. Do I Have a Case?
If you’re looking to sue someone for damages or get a reasonable amount from your insurance company (more than they usually offer or have offered) you need professional help.
Your insurance company and the insurance company of the person at fault are not in it to help you. They’re in it to make money and if they can get you to agree to a low amount – they will.
But that’s not to say every car accident is worth taking to the courts. In some instances, what the insurance or the other person’s insurance offers is the best you’re going to get.
So — how do you know if you have a case or not?
You find a skilled Long Island attorney who does free consultations. They will sit down with you and listen to the details of your case. You’ll want to bring any paperwork you have with you — such as medical bills and a police report.
They’ll talk to you about similar cases and what your options are going forward.
If they think you have a case, they’ll offer to represent you and if they don’t, they should be honest enough to admit it.
Accident lawyers don’t get paid unless you win your settlement, so they have no reason to take on a case they can’t win.
2. What’s Your Experience? How Often Do You Go to Court?
Since you’re doing your research, we’ll assume that you found a car accident lawyer, or at least someone that practices personal injury law.
You don’t want to hire a real estate lawyer to defend your car accident case, just as you wouldn’t want a foot doctor doing surgery on your eyeball.
People have specialties for a reason.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when they hire a lawyer is not asking enough questions. Even though yes, the details of other peoples cases are confidential, they can talk about them in general.
Don’t be afraid to ask about any similar cases to yours. No case is exactly the same, but there are general similarities. How did that case pan out?
Did the person get what they wanted? Did they have to settle for less? Did it go to court?
If you’re going to share your settlement amount with your attorney, they shouldn’t be the only one asking questions.
Think of all the questions you’re asking as insurance for the time you’re investing in your case.
Settling Out of Court
Most of the time, if all parties are cooperative, you can settle car accident cases out of court. It costs everyone more money to go to court — and the insurance companies are not trying to spend more money than they have to.
It’s perfectly acceptable to ask how often they take cases to court and you can even ask if they think your case will need to be seen before a judge as well.
3. How Long Will My Case Take?
Another relevant question to ask is about timing. Unfortunately, the legal process can take months. That doesn’t sound like that long right now, but when you’re trying to juggle medical bills and you can’t work — the bills add up.
You don’t want your attorney to rush your case, but you don’t want them to dilly dally either.
You should expect your case to take at least a month and that’s a very optimistic estimate.
Ask your attorney for an estimate before you begin, so you can plan for paying bills and time off work. If your case starts taking longer than you thought — then you may want to talk to your attorney about settling.
Settling may mean you get less money than is possible, but sometimes you have to pay bills now.
If you want to wait, there are companies that give loans out contingent on an expected settlement. Think of it kind of like a payday loan, but for a settlement.
4. What Steps Should I Take?
A lot about your case is won by what happens on the scene, when the cops were called if anyone admitted fault, and how long both parties stayed on scene.
But even if you didn’t take notes at the scene, you can still win your case. Make sure you keep records of absolutely everything about your case.
That means the email you sent your boss about being out of work, a list of appointments and costs from your medical care, and more.
5. How Will We Communicate?
Some lawyers communicate mostly by phone call, some by fax, and others by email. Knowing how they’ll bring you details about your case is essential for making decisions and getting things done.
You can even let them know how much communication you’d like while they work on your case. Some people only want to know when there’s action and others need to be involved in every step of the process.
Both are acceptable.
Questions to Ask a Lawyer After a Car Accident
The time after a car accident is always chaotic, confusing, and sometimes painful. Don’t make it any more so by trying to deal with everything by yourself.
Now that you know what questions to ask a lawyer after a car accident in Long Island, what are you waiting for?
You deserve to have your case handled by a professional. If you’re ready to get a free consultation, give us a call or leave us a message today.
Gary P. Falkowitz is the Managing Partner and Founding Attorney of the Falkowitz Law Firm PLLC‚ one of the premiere personal injury law firms in New York. Gary received his J.D., in 2005 from St. John’s University School of Law and served as an Assistant District Attorney with the Kings County District Attorney’s Office.