Are Accident Lawyers Worth It?
If you are looking at a particularly difficult or potentially high-paying settlement case, it may be in your best benefit to hire a trained attorney to consult about what is to come and what you should be doing to ensure the best possibility of success.
The right lawyer can walk you through the legal process and lay out all of your options on the table so that you do not end up walking into an even worse financial blunder. The Accident Attorney is the expert in these situations, and he or she will know how to help your specific case in a way that will benefit you.
What Are Accident Lawyers?
Accident Lawyers are those legal professionals that are specially trained to handle legal cases that involve personal injury which has occurred as the result of the negligence of someone else (which can include an individual or an organizational entity). These specialized attorneys deal primarily with tort laws, or civil wrongs that result in harm, loss, or suffering of some form. This harm, loss, or suffering can include physical, emotional, psychological, and even economic components, depending on the situation.
An Accident Attorney has been accepted into the American Bar Association under a personal Injury certification, and is thus qualified to practice this form of law in the jurisdiction in which he or she was accepted as a legal professional.
Can I Change Accident Lawyers?
If you have experienced an accident or other form of personal injury and you have decided that your initial lawyer is no longer working for you in the way that you want, you can easily change lawyers. When you switch lawyers, any contracts made with the initial lawyer will pass into the realm of responsibility of the second lawyer, so not a cent will come out of your pocket for the switch.
If there is an offer on the table (say, from the insurance company) and you decide to accept it, you cannot fire your lawyer at this point even if you feel they did not do their job. It is important to settle with a lawyer early in the legal process (ideally within the first month) so that you will not have to mess with any further issues concerning the lawyer’s demeanor or payment.
Why Do Accident Lawyers Have A Bad Reputation?
Accident Attorneys tend to have a bad reputation in the eyes of the general public because there are many who see them as “ambulance chasers”, or those lawyers who hound injured individuals in the hope of a big settlement from the responsible party. While there are certainly some of these less honest individuals in the field (just as they exist within any profession), the poor image of Accident Lawyers is largely due to public perception.
Insurance companies and other businesses who often have to deal with Accident Lawyers have made great strides to vilify this type of attorney as the greedy bottom-feeder whose only desire is money. This view is popular, but is not widely supported by actual facts. A good attorney will work for you and earn their pay, and there are far more good attorneys than bad.
How Do Accident Lawyers Work?
In the beginning of the litigation process, your lawyer will be working to obtain witness statements and other forms of evidence to try and piece together the accident and find who was at fault. While they are doing this, they are also waiting for you to recover from your injuries, as they cannot begin gathering medical reports and bills until you are deemed physically stable (or emotionally stable, if that is the case).
Next, your attorney will begin negotiations with the insurance company that is involved in the matter, which can take some time as the company most likely will pass the negotiations around for review. If negotiations fail, then your attorney will file a lawsuit. From here, a non-public “court” process is underway, and your lawyer will keep you informed throughout the process as to what is happening. Once a case has been formed, the trial date is set.
This process can take time, and there may be periods where you do not hear from your lawyer at regular intervals as they are working to gather the needed evidence and paperwork to get your case underway. However, a simple phone call to their office should set you at ease if you have chosen the right attorney.
Do Accident Lawyers Work On Contingency?
In nearly every accident case, your lawyer will charge a contingency fee. This fee usually runs between 33 and 40%, but you can negotiate with your lawyer to try and lower this rate. In some states, the contingency fee that an attorney can charge is already limited, so make sure you are aware of your local state’s laws on this point, as it varies across the country.
Do I Need Accident Lawyer?
If you were the victim of serious injuries and are looking at a settlement that will result in more than $1000 in medical fees, then it would be a good idea to hire an accident lawyer. If the reverse is true, and your injuries are minor and the insurance company is willing to settle at a fair rate, then you probably do not need to hire an attorney.
The bottom line: if it looks like a settlement is going to court or has the potential to do so, it would benefit you to hire the services of a professional Accident Lawyer.
How Do I Choose an Accident Lawyer?
Compare your situations with the potential lawyer’s experience: if he or she has a good track record of dealing in this particular field, they will be better equipped to help you with your case. An attorney with a healthy success rate is also usually a good bet.
If you know others who have dealt with lawyers, ask for a referral. Or, you can contact your state’s bar association and ask for their referrals for your particular type of case.
For personal injury suits, finding an attorney who is exclusive to accident law is another great place to start–especially if they have a good track record.
How Do I Fire an Accident Lawyer?
If you are unable to reconcile issues that you have with your attorney, then you can take these steps to start the firing process:
Analyze your legal services contract and look for exit provisions (if there are provisions, do your best to follow the procedure laid out as closely as possible)
Begin looking for a new attorney, and if you are certain that you will fire your first attorney, hire the new one to handle any legal issues that may arise from the process
Draft a formal letter to your attorney with the reasons why you are terminating their services (make it to the point and definitely make a copy of the document before you send it to file for your records)
If your case is in the process of going to court, you must notify the court of your change in legal counsel as soon as you draft the termination letter
What Should I Ask an Accident Lawyer?
Here a few helpful questions that you ask your potential lawyer before you hire him or her to get a better idea of their professional experience:
- How many areas of the law are you specialized in and what are they?
- Does my case sound like one you have led before? How many of these have you dealt with?
- What is your track record for taking on accident cases? How many resulted positively?
- How long do you think this case will take to resolve?
- How often will I be able to communicate with you about the details of the case?
- Are you handling a lot of cases at the moment? If so, will you be able to find the time to handle my case?
- Do you have any client references I can pursue?
- What is your contingency fee?
- If the case fails, what costs will I be responsible for?
- How much compensation can I expect based on my case?