You look down at your phone, or someone else does. You were being a responsible driver, but there was water on the road and someone else turned too fast.
Car accidents can happen to anyone and to all of us, at some point. To recover and put your life back together, you need to find the best auto accident, lawyer.
Learn how to do that and which questions to ask below.
Find Someone with a Specialty
When you get in a car accident, there are more factors than there are for other personal injury cases. You have the other cards on the road, the other driver, and whatever environmental factors there were.
Getting a regular personal injury lawyer who doesn’t specialize in car crash injuries could lead to them not getting the full picture of what happened. Not on purpose, but out of lack of experience.
If you want to get a full settlement, go for someone that has a car crash specialty or does them exclusively. You’ll be in better hands because of it.
Find Someone with References
If you were the hiring manager at a job, you would call someone’s references before you hired them, right? Right.
Well when you choose a personal injury lawyer, you’re hiring them. You’re not hiring them for your business, you’re hiring them just for you. That’s to say you should be even pickier than if you were hiring someone for a job.
There’s a difference between testimonials and references. Testimonials are a nice thing to have on a website, but they’re all going to be positive. No one is perfect, even the best lawyers.
Plus, you don’t know how recent those testimonials are – or that their cases were similar to yours.
When you ask for references, you get to talk to a real person. You can find out details about their case (as many as they’re willing) and ask personalized questions.
It’s appropriate to ask someone if they had any issues with the lawyer, like what the best and the worst part of working with them.
Ask Who You’ll Be Working with Most – and How
Some lawyers have paralegals or assistants that do the bulk of the client contact work. If that’s something you’re comfortable with, great.
But you need to know that beforehand. If you think you found the perfect lawyer and then you never see them after your consult, that’s a problem.
Ask your lawyer how they prefer to communicate case updates. Do they do phone calls more or emails? With technology being what it is, both are acceptable if they’re done in a professional format.
The speed of the case and the amount of updates depends on the details of your case – and of the willingness of the other party to cooperate.
Ask About Their Current Caseload
In life, timing is everything. It may be why you go into a car accident or why you have the job you have. Even if you find the perfect lawyer, it could be a bad time for them to take on your case.
Lawyers operate under caseloads, they’re not official – but they’re determined by the size of the firm and the amount of help they have.
You want your lawyer to have a decent caseload, but not too much. If they’re spreading themselves too thin, they could drop details of your case and lose you money on your settlement.
But not having an existing caseload is a red flag too. Just like a restaurant that no one’s in – you want to know why no one’s using their services. Is there something wrong?
If a lawyer agrees to take you on, then you can assume they can balance your case.
Find Someone Who Does a Free Evaluation
Most personal injury and auto accident lawyers do a free case evaluation. They’ll hear the details of your case and help you find out if you have a case to seek damages on, and let you know if they’re the right person to work on it.
After hearing your case, some lawyers may refer you to another professional in their firm – that has more experience with a case of your type.
The willingness to make sure you have the right lawyer is a green flag when you’re looking into a firm.
Ask About Trial Preference/Performance
Some lawyers don’t like to go to trial. It’s more expensive for the client and it’s a high-stress situation. In most legal cases, things can be settled in mediation or talks between both lawyers.
But that doesn’t mean your case can’t – or won’t go to trial. Ask your lawyer how often they go to trial and how often they settle out of court.
Which outcome do they think your case will have? Though they can’t predict anything – like how the other party’s counsel will act – they can give you an idea of what to expect.
Ask About their Fees
Another trend in working with personal injury lawyers is that they don’t take any money until they win your case. Once they do, and you get a reasonable agreed upon outcome, you pay them with an amount of your settlement.
The amount (usually a percentage) depends on where you live and the lawyer you choose. The standard is 1/3 of the settlement or 33%.
Your Auto Accident Lawyer in Long Island
There are a lot of choices when it comes to auto accident lawyer firms, but not all of them are good choices. You need to make sure your case and your future are in good hands – or else you could regret it for the rest of your life.
Pick two or three firms and go through the above questions. You can ask us any firm-related or case evaluation questions here.
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.