If you’ve been involved in an accident, contacting an attorney is a logical next step. Before you do that, however, you should put a little bit of thought into what you expect out of that attorney. Below are seven things that you need to think about before you pick up the phone.
The first, and perhaps most important, thing you need to know when you think about hiring a lawyer is what you’re looking for out of the case. Are you just looking to get compensation because of your accident? If so, are you looking for a quick settlement or are you willing to fight? If you’re looking for more than just compensation, what is your end goal? Are you fighting to make sure the other side is punished, or to get something changed? Some lawyers are better for helping you meet specific goals than others, but you’re going to be responsible for defining those goals for the lawyer who represents you.
Next, you need to think about what you’re going to have to bring to the table. For many, this means paperwork and evidence. Do you have basic information like the name of the other person involved in the accident or the location at which it happened? Do you have a copy of the police report or any documentation from your insurance? If so, it’s a good idea to bring it along.
You also need to think about how honest and cooperative you are willing to be. While a good lawyer can do most of the heavy lifting, you will still have to participate. If you don’t feel like you can address the situation, it will be very hard to build a reasonably good case.
You must be specific when hiring an attorney. If you’re involved in a car-related accident, you obviously should not choose to work with someone who specializes in trip and fall cases. At the very least, you should always make sure that the lawyer you work with specializes in personal injuries. From there, you should try to get more specific so that you can ensure that the attorney has at least some kind of experience with cases that are similar to your own. While honest attorneys will certainly pass on a case outside of their area of expertise, starting with the right lawyers will definitely save you some time.
Once you’ve found a lawyer who specializes in your type of incident, you’ll want to dig a little deeper to find out how much experience the attorney has. While the length of his or her practice is always a good place to start, it’s not the only thing that matters. What you really want to know is how much experience the attorney has to deal with cases like your own.
It’s a good idea to figure out how much time the attorney has spent in the courtroom and how much time the attorney spends just settling things on the phone. While the latter is certainly a very good thing for some, those who want to slug things out in court need someone with litigation experience. The more often your attorney has handled cases like yours for clients who have goals much like your own, the better off you will be.
The next thing which you should look is your lawyer’s reputation. No two professionals are alike, of course, but you can get to know how an attorney works by looking at the opinions of former clients. Most lawyers will offer some type of testimonial from former clients, but you can also do some digging on your own to find out less biased information.
It doesn’t take long to find out if a lawyer has any official complaints against him or her, but it’s also quite easy to find out the attorney’s online reputation with a quick search. Check out reviews on lawyer review sites and even commercial sites to figure out how former clients feel about the attorney. If he or she has an overwhelming number of negative reviews, you might want to look for help elsewhere.
You need to know whether or not your lawyer is going to be accessible to you when it’s most important. If you live in a larger city – Macon, Georgia, for example – you know that where a lawyer is located can make a huge difference in how accessible he or she might be. If the office is located too far away or in an area that you physically cannot access, you won’t be able to meet with the lawyer and have your case properly handled. You want to ensure that if you need a car accident lawyer, you’ll be able to physically meet with him or her. For most, this means checking out the location of any given lawyer before deciding to work with him or her.
This accessibility is about more than just location, though. You’ll want to work with someone who makes your case a priority, especially when time is of the essence. The statute of limitations matters quite a bit when it comes to an injury case, and a lawyer who doesn’t make time for you can hurt your ability to get compensation. You should always ensure that your lawyer will be accessible when you need him or her the most.
The final thing to consider before hiring an accident lawyer is your own budget. While everyone wants the best lawyer money can buy, the truth is that most people only have a limited amount of money to spend. Research what attorneys typically charge in your area and decide exactly what you can pay. When you speak to an attorney at a consultation, ask about pricing and ask about payment plans. If you know what you can afford, you’ll be able to work with an attorney who can represent you for a fair price.
It’s always important to make sure that you’ve got all of your relevant information ready before you hire an attorney. Don’t just think about an attorney’s qualifications or education – think about what you need in terms of representation and what kind of pressures are going to matter to you going forward. If you can find a lawyer who has the right combination of legal training and the ability to represent you in a way that meets your needs, you’ll stand a much better chance of feeling comfortable with the process that follows.