What should you look for when meeting with a potential lawyer for car accidents? In a word — answers! An experienced, results-oriented accident attorney will be able to respond to your questions in a clear, forthright manner. If not, it’s best to seek another attorney to interview before hiring one to handle your auto accident case. Read on for a few suggestions of what to ask when meeting with a lawyer for car accidents for the first time.
What to Ask a Lawyer for Car Accidents
What Is Your Educational and Legal Background?
Obviously, you want to make sure that the “legal expert” you may have seen advertised on a billboard has an actual law degree. It’s surprising how many of them don’t. Degree and other educational information should be provided to you without hesitation or defensiveness. It’s also important to ascertain that the lawyer has experience in your area. “Area” in this sense means not just your physical location — although that’s important — but also the area of law with which you need help. In this case, your attorney must be well-versed in auto accident and personal injury law.
Edward A. Smith is an open book when it comes to his education and experience. After serving in the Air Force, Ed attended UC Davis, where he graduated summa cum laude. He then received his law degree from the McGeorge School of Law. Soon after, in 1982, Ed established his law office in Sacramento. Auto accidents form a significant part of the cases Ed and his team handle. In fact, he’s written two books on the subject — The Ultimate California Auto Accident Handbook and California Motorcycle Accident Handbook.
To Which Associations Do You Belong?
At first, it might not seem important to you what professionals associations a lawyer belongs to. Yet an experienced accident attorney can be judged in part from the legal organizations for which he or she qualifies. At a minimum, the attorney you interview should be a member of your state’s bar association. (You can also check that bar association to find out if any complaints were filed against the lawyer.) Often, legal memberships will also reflect the specialty areas of a law firm’s practice.
Ed Smith is a member in good standing with many such groups. He belongs to the State Bar of California and the Sacramento County Bar Association. In addition, Ed’s memberships reflect his trial experience. Additional professional organizations to which he belongs include the Capital City Trial Lawyers Association, American Trial Lawyers Association, and the Consumer Attorneys of California.
Have You Handled a Substantial Number of Auto Accident Cases?
Obviously, the greater the number of auto accident cases the lawyer you’re interviewing has handled, the more he or she understands in terms of how to get the best result, in the timeliest manner. The lawyer’s record must not just have good results with settlements but with trial verdicts as well.
Since the beginning of his Sacramento law practice in 1982, a substantial portion of the cases Ed’s handled involve personal injury, especially motorcycle and auto accidents. The associates and staff working with Ed also have a deep background in personal injury cases, including auto accident law. They understand how to collect evidence, interview witnesses, and compile insurance company documentation. This solid team approach means that you’re entering your legal proceedings with a solid case.
What Is Your Law Firm’s Ratio of Settlements vs. Jury Verdicts? How Many Were Not Found in the Plaintiff’s Favor?
The attorney you consult must be completely transparent about his or her record. That’s especially true when it comes to cases similar to yours. Of course, along with honesty, you’re looking for a lawyer who knows how to deliver favorable results.
On Ed Smith’s official website, you’ll find a section devoted to settlements and verdicts he and his team have attained. These indicate not just a high success rate in auto accident cases, but also the amounts awarded. This will allow you to assess the kind of damages you might be able to claim in your own personal injury case. Ed’s success rate is so high that he qualified for membership in The Million Dollar Advocates Forum. This national association reserves membership for personal injury lawyers who’ve achieved verdicts and/or settlements worth at least $1 million.
What Questions Do You Have for Me?
What your prospective accident attorney asks you are just as important as your own inquiries. These will show that the attorney understands the basics of proving your case — and has the know-how to take it to the settlement or trial phase.
The auto accident lawyer with whom you meet should obviously ask about the details of your collision, starting with when and where it happened. He or she should also take a detailed account of what led to the auto accident. A good lawyer will ask you whether a police report exists, and what it says. A key component of this will be if another party — usually the other driver — admits to being at fault.
Next, the auto accident lawyer will likely ask you about your injuries — where you got your initial care, and what the diagnosis was. Questions must also include details on any follow-up care needed and what kind of expensive tests may have been ordered along the way. Of course, if you’ve lost pay due to your injuries, this will form an important part of your case.
Will You Dedicate Your Time for My Case?
Again, make a note of whether the attorney seems rushed as opposed to being thorough. While you may have come into the meeting with organized notes, experienced lawyers know that clients can sometimes forget the extent of the injuries, related expenses, or lost wages. It’s their job to make sure you pursue any damages to which you are entitled.
Any lawyer for car accidents worth hiring will also ask about your life as it is today. You may not consider all of your injuries “permanent.” But if they continue to cause lost wages or impact your daily life, they can be considered permanent.
Of course, expect the prospective attorney to discuss insurance issues. You should be asked if you know details on the other driver’s insurance company and amount of coverage. Expect questions on your coverage, as well, in case the other driver was uninsured.
Why should you contact a lawyer for car accidents after being in one? Watch the video below to find out:
Have you had an unsatisfactory meeting with an auto accident attorney? It’s possible that lawyer lacked experience. Or he or she just might not have been the right fit for you. We welcome potential, current and former clients to drop by anytime to discuss cases and how things are going. But if you have specific questions, contact us today for a no-fee, pressure-free consultation.
What do you look for in a lawyer for car accidents? Share what you need to know from your attorney in the comments section below.
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