They say there are two certainties in life, and neither one is particularly pleasant to think about. However, you might as well add a third certainty of life: Auto accidents.
If you have managed to avoid getting involved in an auto accident, consider yourself lucky, but know that on any day, your luck can run out. The increase in the number of car crashes in the United States stems from several factors, from drivers texting while operating a motor vehicle to unsafe driving practices that include speeding on wet pavement.
Even if you have an auto accident on your driving record, you should know how to choose the right car accident lawyer. An experienced personal injury attorney can make a huge difference when it comes to recovering the costs associated with a car accident.
Network with Friends and Family Members
Despite the popularity of online review sites, old school word of mouth referrals help car accident victim choose the right lawyer. You should ask the friends that you trust, as well as family members that have worked with the same auto accident attorney for years. Familiarity might breed contempt in personal relationships, but when you work with a car accident lawyer, familiarity becomes your best friend.
With personal injury attorneys promoting their legal services on late night television, as well as on large roadside billboards, it can be confusing to choose an attorney who represents your best interests in a car accident case. If you cannot get a referral from a friend or a family member, consider asking neighbors and co-workers.
Word of mouth referrals work two ways: You can receive a positive recommendation or you can receive a referral from someone you trust who had a bad experience with a car accident attorney.
Finding a personal injury lawyer who has compiled an impressive record of representing clients in personal injury cases should be one of your priorities. You do not want an attorney who has worked for an insurance company representing you in a car accident case. Experience in personal injury cases means an attorney has represented clients that need to recover the costs associated with a vehicle accident.
Visit a prospective attorney’s website to see how long the lawyer has practiced law for personal injury cases. Make sure to confirm the number of years a lawyer has worked as a personal injury attorney by referring to online lawyer directories.
Know What “Contingency Fee Basis” Means
You want to work with a personal injury lawyer who is highly motivated to get you just compensation. This means you want to choose an attorney who operates on a contingency fee basis, which means your attorney gets paid when you get paid. You also should understand what additional fees, if any, a personal injury lawyer charges for legal services.
Conduct Online Research
If you receive a promising referral, you should still conduct online research to learn more about the attorney prospects on your short list. Google reviews represent a good place to start, but you hav
e to remember that some of the reviews might be biased one way or the other. Check with each lawyer’s Better Business Bureau (BBB) page, which should present a rating (A+ is what you want) plus client complaints.
If you cannot get a referral, expand your online research to include your state bar association “Find a Lawyer” tool. Other sites to conduct research include Mediate and Super Lawyers. One helpful online directory is called the National Academy of Personal Injury Lawyers.
Open and Prompt Communication
Yes, personal injury attorneys are busy. From meeting new clients to negotiating settlements with insurance companies, you might find it difficult to reach a personal injury lawyer.
It should never be that way.
Any attorney on your short list must respond to your texts, emails, and phone calls promptly. If you leave a message online or on voicemail, the attorney should get back to you in just a few hours at most.
Professionalism is all about open and prompt communication.
Does Not Back Down
Although there is a fine line between an attorney who takes any offer from an insurance company and an attorney who charges into a room with the purpose of a British Bulldog, you have to make sure you choose a personal injury lawyer who is fair, yet persuasive when dealing with insurers.
Remember that the first settlement offer is often not the best offer.
Finally, choose a personal injury attorney that you like. Liking your lawyer is a bonus, while disliking your attorney is a sure way to get shafted during a negotiation with an insurance company.