How to Choose the Right Accident Attorney
If you’ve made the decision to pursue a car accident case, you could be closer to compensation than you think. Your outcome, of course, will depend on whether or not you hire the right lawyer to help you.
But how do you choose the best one? At Richardson Richardson Boudreaux, we’re here to help you answer this question and others. While we would be honored to represent you, we are committed to giving you all the information you need before you choose your attorney. Let’s get started.
You might be unsurprised to hear that research is a crucial component of the selection process. Before you begin your search, however, make sure you know what you are looking for. Consider the questions and advice below to determine which qualities you are searching for in a car accident attorney:
- How can I evaluate the firm completely? Is everyone on staff competent and professional?
Remember: look further than the public face of the law firm, as the first person you speak with initially might not be your primary contact.
- How old is the firm? Is it a small, independent firm or a large, corporate firm? Does my potential attorney have experience?
You may be able to find the answers to these questions by examining awards and leadership roles associated with the firm and its attorneys.
- Is the firm comfortable going to trial? How many of its cases go to court? What is its trial success rate?
Occasionally, this information is posted on firm websites, but if it isn’t, you have the right to ask!
- Has the firm tried or settled similar cases in your area? Do they have an office in your city or county?
- Has the firm handled cases like yours, specifically?
- Can the firm negotiate on your behalf? What kind of settlements have they achieved in the past?
95% of personal injury cases are settled without trial and most firms have settlement information available on their website.
- Are you personally comfortable with the lawyer?
This is a BIG question, so trust your instincts.
- Is the firm too busy to support your case? How long does it typically take them to close a case?
- Has the attorney ever been in trouble with any legal or ethics committees?
Save yourself time and look this up before contacting the lawyer. This information could be available on state bar websites, Court networks or with some internet search results.
- Does the firm have positive client reviews?
Be sure to view independent review sites, as well as the lawyer’s main website.
Now that you have a better idea of what you want, you need to know where you can find the best attorneys. Always start by asking your friends and family. If someone you know has had a good experience with an injury attorney, you should take the name of their attorney and consider speaking with them. Never decide on an attorney before you have had a chance to talk to them personally.
If you’ve ever been represented before, you can ask your former attorney for a recommendation. Most experienced attorneys are familiar with other reputable lawyers outside their practice areas and can send you to someone they know and trust.
Most state and local bar associations offer recommendations, but you should still check an attorney’s qualifications on your own. Additionally, some attorneys are recognized by sites like Super Lawyers®, Best Lawyers®, Martindale-Hubbell®, and many others.
Another great place to find lawyers is on their websites. Most firms offer transparency on things like verdicts and settlements, education and experience, awards, and publications. Bar Associations also forbid attorneys from making unsubstantiated claims.
When you start speaking with attorneys, you may be turned down by a few of them. An attorney may reject your case for a number of different reasons, including:
- Inadequate amount of damages to make it worth their while (some firms only take on large, lucrative cases)
- Difficulty establishing liability
- Limited resources of the defendant
- The case will be too expensive to pursue
- Too much time required
- Conflict of interest
- Poor personal rapport
- Previous rejections
- Lack of legal precedent (your case is a unique issue)
- Expired statute of limitations
The above list might seem intimidating, but the right attorney will be able to weigh the risk and reward of your case and determine what is best for both you and their firm. If you do not have a strong case, a good lawyer will also explain this to you and recommend other legal options.
Most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations. Use these opportunities to ask questions about an attorney’s experience level, review the documents of your case with a legal professional, and discuss your goals.
Ask questions like:
- How many years have you been in practice?
- What percentage of your previous cases have involved car accidents?
- Do you work more with accident plaintiffs or defendants?
- Would you personally handle the case? Can I meet all the lawyers on my team?
You should aim for an experienced attorney or legal team that focuses on plaintiff personal injury. Previous experience with defendants can be valuable for your case, but an attorney who works primarily for defendants might not fight as hard for your claim or understand everything you are going through.
Having a team of attorneys is a good thing, but you should know everyone who is working on your case!
You should also give them all the information about your case.
Bring in documents like:
- Copies of the police report associated with your accident
- Your medical records and bills
- W-2’s and pay stubs that prove your loss of income
- Correspondence with your insurance company
The more an attorney knows about your case, the better they will be able to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses. Take advantage of your consultation by providing as much information as possible.
During your initial meeting, you should also clarify your goals.
Tell your attorney whether you want to:
- Get a settlement as quickly as possible, even if that means lower damages,
- Increase the offer from your insurance company ASAP,
- Or get as much money as possible, even if it takes months or years.
Once you and your attorney are on the same page, it will be easy to determine whether or not working together is a good idea.
Your attorney should ask you questions during the consultation, as well.
Remember that your working relationship with your attorney will have a heavy impact on your case. You should use your consultation to get to know each other and decide if your relationship will be productive.
While You’re Here…
You don’t even have to leave this page to set one up. Simply call us at (918) 347-6456 and we’ll help you kickstart your quest for the perfect personal injury attorney.