Six Questions to Ask an Auto Accident Attorney
By Younker Hyde Macfarlane on February 19, 2014
In auto accident lawsuits, time is of the essence, and by acting quickly, you can ensure a better outcome for your case. At the same time, however, you should be extremely thorough when choosing a personal injury lawyer and determining the viability of your case. By coming prepared to an interview with our Utah attorneys, you can obtain the answers you need quickly and make a confident decision about your case eligibility and legal representation.
1. How Many Car Accident Cases Have You Represented?
To wage a successful auto accident lawsuit, an attorney should have a specific skill set. He or she should have a detailed knowledge of local and state traffic laws, a basic knowledge of physics, and access to at least one accident reconstruction expert. Of course, the more auto accident cases a lawyer has handled, the more knowledge and resources he or she will possess.
2. How Do You Charge?
Many personal injury attorneys charge on a contingency basis, which is almost always in your best interest. In these cases, your lawyer will not charge you anything unless you win your case. Once the case has been settled or tried, the attorney will take a percentage of your damages. Contingency fees vary depending on the lawyer and the circumstances of the case. They can range from 20 to 50 percent, but fees are typically lower if you settle your case out of court.
3. Who Is Responsible for My Accident?
This may seem like a fairly obvious question. If another driver caused the accident because of reckless behavior, then he or she is to blame. In some cases, however, a third party may be responsible. For example, if you or the other driver skidded on loose gravel, the city may be guilty of negligence and improper road maintenance. If your accident was caused by a design or manufacturing flaw in one of the vehicles involved, an auto manufacturer may be partially or fully responsible for the incident.
4. What If I Am Partially Responsible for the Accident?
If you share responsibility for the accident, you may still be able to collect financial compensation. State laws vary, but most states follow the principle of modified comparative fault, which means that if you were less than 50 or 51 percent responsible for the accident (depending on the state), you can collect a percentage of the damages. For example, if you were 49 percent responsible, you can collect 51 percent of the damages. Only five states follow the principle of contributory negligence, in which you are unable to collect any money if you were partially to blame for an accident. An experienced attorney should be well-informed about comparative fault laws in your area.
5. Will My Case Go to Trial?
Auto accident cases can be determined in one of two ways: through out-of-court negotiation and through a courtroom trial. In most cases, settling outside of court is preferable since it is faster and less complicated. Of course, no lawyer can ever guarantee that a case will settle. A good attorney will attempt to negotiate a case and, at the same time, prepare for a court trial.
6. What Do I Need to Do to Win My Case?
A good attorney will handle the details of the case. However, there may be some things you can do to ensure a better outcome. Your lawyer will guide you as you talk to your insurance company and answer questions from the defense attorney. In the meantime, your lawyer should be gathering evidence, examining your medical records, talking to witnesses, and working with accident reconstruction experts. Finding a lawyer who is prepared for these responsibilities is the most important thing you can do to win your case.
Talk to an Attorney
Before choosing an auto accident attorney, you should talk to several lawyers and ask them these questions. Ultimately, you should choose the person who gives you the most satisfactory answers and with whom you feel at ease. Contact an attorney in your area and get started on the path to your successful auto accident case.
Related to This
They were extremely knowledgeable, extremely helpful experts. The team helped me with all aspects of my case, including medical and financial, and understood that it affected more than me but also my family.- Jill S.