What Questions Should I Ask My Car Accident Lawyer?
When you are aware of the times, places and situations that cause car accidents, you have a better chance of avoiding them. In Michigan, traffic crashes are most likely to occur in November and on Fridays. In 2021, there were 282,640 total crashes in Michigan, and 1,068 of them were fatal. Fatal crashes were most likely to occur in August and on Saturdays and Sundays.
Even armed with this information, hundreds of thousands of people end up in car accidents every year. When this happens, there are expenses and headaches that come from loss of income, medical bills, pain and suffering, property repair and even death. Those who have been in a car accident in Michigan may benefit from meeting with a car accident lawyer, but it is essential that you know which questions to ask before you get started.
Car accidents fall under the legal umbrella of personal injury, and most personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation. During this meeting, there are specific things to consider so you walk away with the most helpful information to make the best decision for your future.
Is Your Case Solid?
The first step in starting a personal injury claim is determining if you have a solid case that an insurance company will pay out for. Ask your potential attorney how they feel about your accident, and if it is a case that should move forward. You may want to bring the police record of the accident, any witness statements and any other documentation you have to the meeting. Do not rely solely on your memory alone, as emotion and time can affect your ability to remember specific details about the incident.
Have They Handled Injuries and Cases Like This Before?
Some personal injury attorneys specialize in certain areas of the law. Discuss any experience the attorney has with injuries like yours or accidents like yours.
For example, some personal injury attorneys only handle medical malpractice, and your case is an accident one. Ask about cases from the past that they have handled, and you can even ask for referrals for clients they helped in the past. While most personal injury lawyers can handle a car accident claim, you may increase your chances for success with an attorney who has worked with your specific situation before.
Do They Work On a Contingency Basis?
Most car accident lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means that they do not collect any money unless you receive compensation for your accident. Before you start a case, ask the attorney to clarify their contingency rate. It will probably fall between 25 and 40% of what you receive, but a lower contingency rate does not always signify your best choice. Someone with a higher contingency rate may have a better record or more experience in your area.
You also want to know if there are costs up front. Does the attorney handle the costs of the case until it settles, or are you expected to come up with cash before the attorney files the claim? If you have not been able to work and have extra medical bills, this can be extremely important to consider.
Even though an attorney only charges a contingency fee, other costs may add up during the case. These can include the following:
- Records requests
- Court costs
Ask how the firm handles these fees before signing any contract or committing to an attorney.
Is the Attorney the Main Point of Contact On the Case?
A good car accident lawyer knows how many cases they can handle. Some take on too much and find they have to rely on junior associates or firm staff for help with basic tasks. If it is important to you that your accident lawyer handle all the details of your case, make sure you choose one with a smaller caseload. You can expect your attorney to reach out regularly to provide updates on your case, and anytime there is a new development, they should contact you. Ask any attorneys you meet with how they handle communication.
Are They Good at Negotiation and Litigation?
Most personal injury cases settle out of court, but there are times when an insurance company is stubborn and refuses to pay. If your attorney feels you have a strong enough case, they may want to take it to trial to get you additional compensation for the accident.
Personal injury attorneys are often skilled negotiators, as they must come to an agreement between you and the insurance company or at-fault driver. If you have a case that may go to court, ask the attorney if they have litigation experience. This is necessary for a case that goes to court, and you do not want to switch attorneys in the middle of your claim because you chose one who cannot handle litigation.
How Do You Pay for Treatment While You Wait for Your Settlement?
Concussions, facial injuries, traumatic brain injuries, spinal injuries and soft tissue injuries are all common after a car accident. Even if you have a strong case for a car accident claim, the legal process is complex and slow and it may take time for you to get your money. In the meantime, how are you supposed to pay for the treatment you need to get healthy?
Your health insurance may cover your bills, or the at-fault party’s car insurance may pay for the costs if they have personal injury protection coverage. If these are not an option, you may be able to sign a letter of promise stating that you will file a personal injury claim and will pay the bills when compensation comes through. As you do not want to wait to receive any type of treatment that will get you back on track, discuss this matter with your attorney if it is a concern.
Will Your Claim Involve Specific Damages?
Economic damages in a car accident may include the following:
- Medical bills
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Lost income
- Property damage
There are other intangible costs that are harder to quantify, but you can still be compensated for them. They may include:
- Physical impairment
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
There is no perfect formula to determine how much money you can get from a car accident case, but ask your potential attorney what damages you would seek after they have your entire story. This can give you a good idea of how much time and energy you want to put into seeking damages.
Is There a Statute of Limitations for Your Claim?
In most states, including Michigan, there is a statute of limitations for personal injury cases that is two years. You only have two years to file a claim for your case. There may be certain exemptions, and this is where an attorney can help you. If it has been a while since your accident, discuss any potential problems you could have with a statute of limitations.
When Can You Start?
If you or someone you love is dealing with the fallout of a car accident that was not your fault, there is no need to suffer or worry when help is right around the corner. Contact us today at Mike Morse Law Firm to schedule a consultation, and one of our highly qualified attorneys will walk you through your case and help you determine where to go next. We are here to help, and we look forward to helping you obtain the compensation you deserve.