updated - April 9, 2020 Thursday EDT
Hiring a car accident lawyer is a very personal choice. Not all accidents will benefit from legal guidance, but in the right set of circumstances, having personal legal representation can literally make the difference between a long, drawn out court case and a swift and decisive conclusion.
But most drivers don't know when to hire a Los Angeles personal injury attorney because getting into an auto accident is a relatively rare occurrence for most drivers. You get into a car accident just often enough to feel traumatized by the memory but not often enough to ever know what to do first and next to simplify the claims process.
Similarly, most private citizens only have dealings with law firms on a very occasional basis, if ever. So you probably don't feel confident knowing what you should see when you are hiring a car accident attorney to represent you.
In this timely blog post, we outline the basic steps to select an accident attorney to guide you through the process of settling your car accident case.
As we mentioned in the introduction here, there are many different types of auto accidents. Some are very straightforward to resolve, while others might drag on for weeks, months or even years.
Just as you don't want to take too long to bring your own legal representation on board in a complicated case, you don't want to rush to hire an accident lawyer when you don't really need one.
The free initial consultation, which usually lasts less than 60 minutes, is your time to meet with an attorney, talk about the details of the car accident and your claims process to date, identify any problems or warning signs and decide if your case could benefit from expert legal counsel.
If yes, you can then make the decision whether to retain the law firm's services to help expedite your case and settle your claim. If no, you can put your mind at ease and move on with your case and your life.
You should steer clear of any law firm that does not offer a free initial consultation. Legal professionals value their time and credentials and realize they cannot help everyone. The free initial consultation is your time to jointly decide whether there is benefit to partner to resolve your case.
Just as you probably wouldn't choose a new dentist or hire a new cpa without doing some research online, so too should you do your homework before selecting a law firm. You want to know the professional you are trusting to resolve your auto accident claims has been successful doing the same for clients before you.
While it is always nice to see positive, glowing testimonials on the attorney's own website, what you really want to be looking for is positive reviews on independent third-party websites. And if you do run across any complaints, what you want to see is that they are settled quickly and positively.
In short, you want to pick a lawyer that is serious about providing excellent legal representation and is proactive about and protective of their local legal reputation.
Even though it will be the car accident lawyer who is specifically representing you, as with any time-intensive endeavor, it takes a team to get your case heard, tried and successfully resolved.
Your attorney will require help from their support staff, including paralegals, administrative professionals and even the front office receptionist. When you call the law firm to schedule your initial free consultation, begin right away to evaluate the level of customer service you receive.
Is the receptionist prompt, polite and eager to get you on the schedule? Do you receive all of the information you need in a follow-up email right away? Is the attorney on time for your consultation and all ears to hear your situation? What is the atmosphere like in the law office - is everyone grumpy and rushed or is staff polite and personable?
You can often judge the likelihood of a positive outcome by your initial reception, so pay close attention and choose a firm that treats you well from your first phone call.
The legal profession is a vast spectrum of specialties and even sub-specialties, of which car accidents is only one. Some attorneys may try car accident claims occasionally or part-time, while others make traffic law their primary focus and area of specialization.
It is the latter you want to pick when you run into trouble resolving your car accident claim and even more so when you need the help of a Los Angeles personal injury attorney. The more time your attorney spends on traffic law-related cases, the more confident and experienced that attorney will become.
This is the kind of attorney you want and need to have on your side when you need help resolving a car accident issue. An experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorney that works with traffic law-related cases every single day will be able to quickly spot issues that could lead to the rapid, positive resolution of your case.
You don't want your case to serve as practice for a new attorney or an attorney who only works with traffic law when they have a free hour on their calendar!
California is a particularly strict state when it comes to drafting and interpreting traffic law. California is also one of just a handful of states in the nation that is a "fault" state when resolving car insurance claims.
This means that the insurer for the driver who is declared to be partially or fully at fault will have a greater share of responsibility for settling payouts in a car insurance claim.
Not surprisingly, this can cause some pretty difficult issues as insurers duke it out to try to avoid having to make larger payouts. In some cases, this may cause delays in processing a driver's claim, even if they have been regularly paying premiums all along.
You don't want your newly hired attorney to whitewash or sugarcoat the process and the next steps. But neither do you want an overly negative prognosis. What you want and need is a realistic outline of next steps so you can get prepared to settle your claim and get on with your life.
The attorney should willingly walk you through exactly what to expect, including the next steps to take and how to prepare for the most successful outcome in your auto insurance claim.
Finally, there is no substitute for the simple feeling of trust and confidence in the attorney sitting across from you at the table. If the other information checks out and you have a good rapport at your initial consultation, you can feel much more confident in your choice of attorney.
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