Questions to Ask a Lawyer About a Car Accident
Suppose you decide to hire a car accident lawyer to discuss your case. In that case, there are specific questions to ask regarding the nature of your accident, the type of compensation you can recover, and the chances of succeeding with your case. You may also want to ask questions about the lawyer to better determine if he or she is the right fit for you.
During a free initial consultation, you’ll have the chance to ask the attorney all types of questions. A good lawyer will be willing to answer any questions you have in-depth and ensure you walk away from the consultation with a better understanding of your rights and options.
Following the consultation, you may decide whether to hire a car accident attorney
or look for other options. Remember, while attorneys may use consultations to determine whether they can provide meaningful representation, you can use them to help you make the right decision when hiring a lawyer.
If you’re unsure what to ask a car accident lawyer, the following are some specific questions to guide you.
“Can I Recover Compensation for My Injuries?”
Following a car accident
, you may believe that you’re eligible to recover compensation, but it’s not always clear whether a case warrants compensation. You will need to prove that another party was liable for the accident and that you suffered injuries and other damages as a result. An attorney will be able to investigate the accident and help determine liability.
Many types of negligence could lead to a car accident, and multiple liable parties may be responsible. These factors can increase the complexity of a case and the ability to recover compensation. Liable parties in these accidents could include other drivers, employees, employers, manufacturers, pedestrians, and others.
Some specific examples of negligence that can lead to accidents include:
- Aggressive driving
- Distracted driving
- Traffic violations
- Impaired driving
- Hazardous road conditions
- Defective auto parts
An attorney should never guarantee that you can recover compensation from the start. Instead, the attorney should be willing to investigate the case further, which will involve questioning witnesses and looking deeper into the accident with experts on the subject. With sufficient information, your prospective attorney should be able to make a more informed decision regarding the chances of succeeding with a claim. The attorney should also be honest and let you know if you don’t have a valid claim.
“How Much Compensation Can I Expect?”
It may also be unclear precisely how much compensation you can recover after a car accident. Often, car accident victims are able to recover more compensation than they believe they deserve, but they don’t know it and request far lower compensation from insurers.
By consulting with a car accident lawyer, you can ask about the amount of compensation you can seek. A knowledgeable and experienced lawyer will be able to answer this question honestly with a rough estimate, but he or she should never promise any specific amount.
Many elements of a car accident case can influence the amount of compensation. For instance, you may suffer injuries that result in costly economic damages such as medical expenses, ongoing care, and lost wages. Additionally, your pain and suffering, including any psychological distress and trauma, could also count toward compensation in the form of noneconomic damages. An attorney will understand the impact of each type of damage and factor them into their estimate.
Keep in mind that noneconomic damages could contribute a large amount to a car accident settlement, but they’re typically more difficult to calculate than economic damages. The difficulty of calculation can encourage insurance companies to reduce the amount of compensation you receive for these damages.
Still, a helpful attorney will be able to help determine how much compensation you actually deserve. If the insurance company still challenges the amount you’re seeking, an attorney may also be able to help take your case to court in a lawsuit.
“What Kind of Experience Do You Have?”
You should also ask about the attorney’s experience. How long has the lawyer been in practice as a car accident lawyer? Also, find out whether the attorney has experience handling cases that are similar to yours. The ideal attorney will be familiar with the nature of your accident and have years of experience handling car accident cases.
Additionally, ask about credentials and testimonials. A good attorney will have a solid reputation, the accolades to prove it, and testimonials from satisfied clients.
“How Long Do I Have to Take Legal Action?”
Like other types of accident cases, car accidents come with a specific amount of time in which victims can file a claim or lawsuit. The amount of time you have will depend on the statute of limitations in your state
, which dictates how many years you have to file. Typically, the statute of limitations starts from the time of the accident, but certain exceptions can lengthen the amount of time you have to start a claim or lawsuit.
If you don’t file before the statute of limitations expires, you may be unable to start a case or at least minimize your chances of succeeding with one. The potential inability to file a claim when you have a valid case makes it important to understand the statute of limitations. Even if you have two or more years to start building your case, the claims and legal processes can take years to complete.
There are various steps you’ll need to take in a case before you can recover compensation.
For instance, if you want to file a car accident lawsuit
, the process will entail the following:
- Selecting the right car accident lawyer to handle your case
- The lawyer investigates the accident and liable parties to gauge liability and calculate the damages resulting from the accident.
- The lawyer then files an insurance claim with the negligent party’s insurer.
- The lawyer spends time negotiating with insurers to reach a favorable settlement.
- The attorney may then opt to file a lawsuit against the negligent party or insurer if the parties involved can’t agree on a settlement.
- Starting the lawsuit requires filing a persuasive complaint before the statute of limitations expires.
When completing all of these steps, the legal process can take over a year to complete. The sooner you start the process, the more you’ll be able to increase your chances of succeeding.
During your consultation, the attorney should be able to inform you of the statute of limitations for your case and indicate how much time you have to file a claim or lawsuit.
“How Will You Handle My Car Accident Case?”
Every car accident case involves unique factors that require claimants and their attorneys to follow a different path. These cases are potentially complex and can involve many elements that make the case challenging.
Some of the factors that can influence your car accident case include:
- The role of the liable parties, such as drivers and manufacturers
- The presence of multiple liable parties
- The liable parties’ insurance companies
- The severity of your injuries and level of impairment
- The total value of your claim
Suppose attorneys have experience with or knowledge of the insurance company and the circumstances of your particular case. In that case, they will be able to let you know how they intend to handle your case during your consultation. However, circumstances can change, and different unforeseen factors may arise, potentially requiring the attorney to take a different approach.
“How Can I Pay for My Medical Bills in a Pending Case?”
While going through the claims or legal process, you may see expenses mount following treatment and other costs. In the meantime, you may need to find ways to cover these expenses until you receive a settlement.
Depending on your situation, you have a variety of options available to you to help cover medical bills, such as:
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage
Some states require or allow PIP insurance
as an optional add-on to liability coverage. PIP is no-fault insurance that covers medical bills regardless of who was at fault in an accident. Many people may be unaware that they have this coverage, particularly in states that automatically include them in auto insurance policies.
Medical Payments Coverage
Also known as MedPay, medical payments coverage is a type of coverage that people may be able to get with their auto insurance policy. This coverage pays for various out-of-pocket expenses and copays following an accident. Like PIP insurance, MedPay covers policyholders regardless of fault.
Some insurance companies offer supplemental insurance policies
that cover a certain amount of medical expenses in emergency situations, including vehicle accidents. The premiums for these policies are usually inexpensive—a few dollars per month—and will be able to assist with payment following an accident.
Litigation funding, also referred to as lawsuit loans, provides individuals with upfront funding while a case is pending and likely to settle. You won’t need to undergo a credit check to receive this funding as long as you have a potentially successful case. However, this funding often comes at the cost of high-interest rates and fees, which is why you should exhaust other options before choosing litigation funding.
In other cases, when you don’t have insurance or insurers won’t bill you on a contingency basis, it may be possible to use a credit card to cover medical expenses. During this time, you should keep track of your costs and ensure that credit card payments won’t substantially harm your credit score. Once you receive your settlement and the case closes, you can use this settlement to pay off your debt.
While you may need to cover medical expenses before your case settles, you should have certain options that help ensure you get the treatment you need without causing too much financial harm. During your consultation, you can ask about payment options, and the attorney should be able to discuss the best plan for you.
“How Will I Cover Ongoing Medical Care Costs?”
The settlement in an accident case will help you cover existing medical expenses, but you may require ongoing care for months or even years afterward. You might worry about how you’ll be able to cover these costs. When asking about this in consultation with an accident lawyer, the attorney can consider all future costs when estimating your potential compensation.
It’s often difficult to determine future costs, which is why attorneys often seek the help of medical experts who have a better understanding of what the patient will require for ongoing care. These experts can also help calculate the total cost of this care.
Once a case settles, a portion of your compensation should help cover existing and future medical bills. To facilitate this, an attorney can discuss a settlement fund management plan to ensure you can cover future bills consistently.
“What Do I Need to Provide You?”
You should also ask about what you can do to assist the attorney. To help you succeed with your case, a car accident lawyer will need plenty of documentation supporting your claim. Asking this question will help you learn what you’ll need to provide and establish your role in the case, giving you a clearer understanding of what to expect going forward. You’ll also have plenty of time to gather what you need as soon as you finish your consultation, giving you a chance to get started on your case immediately.
Consult the Right Car Accident Lawyer to Discuss Your Case
By asking these and other questions during a consultation
, you can learn more about your options and determine which attorney is the right fit. Even if a personal injury attorney
decides not to take on your case, you can walk away with more knowledge about your case and potentially get representation elsewhere.