There are over one million lawyers in the U.S., and because not they’re not created equal, it takes time to find a credible one.
Knowing the common mistakes to avoid is essential for protecting your investment and helping your case. But if you rush through the decision process, you could end up changing the course of your life.
In the same boat? Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. Here are 10 things to avoid when picking a car accident lawyer.
1. Rushing the Research Phase
Regardless of how good a lawyer seemingly is, you’re risking your case if you don’t research them. Spend time going through their websites, asking for references, and looking for comments from similar clients. You should also check the American Bar Association for a list of reputable attorneys in your area because it shows that they’re legit.
Further, ask your friends and family members for recommendations. Your loved ones may have a good experience with a personal injury lawyer, so don’t overlook your current network.
Another mistake is hiring a lawyer solely based on their TV ads. Sure, a flashy commercial will stay with you, but it simply means that they are great at marketing, rather than having the right expertise for your case.
Or, you may feel like you don’t need a lawyer to represent you. This is a major mistake, especially if you want compensation for your medical bills or loss of wages. Even if your injuries are minor, you should hire a lawyer to fight your corner and help you get the best settlement.
2. Not Asking for Referrals
When comparing options for lawyers, asking for referrals is crucial. Aside from personal referrals, prospective attorneys should happily hand over references that you can double-check. You should also ask other lawyers or paralegals whether they know anyone who is trustworthy and specializes in personal injury law.
If you’re looking for a jumpstart, check out a reputable firm like alphaaccidentlawyers.com to get inspired.
3. Not Valuing Experience
As you’re comparing lawyer fees, it’s tempting to choose the cheapest one. But this often means that the lawyer has insufficient experience and hasn’t even represented a client in court. It’s important that the lawyer also has experience working in cases in your state because the laws vary between them.
4. Taking a Blanket Approach
Don’t make the mistake of shelling out for a lawyer; only to find that they work in another area of law.
You want to have a breakdown of your car accident case so that you can ask each candidate for their advice. For instance, if another driver hit your car and you’ve suffered a car accident injury, tell the lawyer because they’ll have a better understanding of the procedure involved. Also, the lawyer should instantly tell you who is in the wrong and whether you can get a settlement in court.
Remember, each case is unique, so don’t be overwhelmed if one lawyer hasn’t seen a similar one. It simply means you need an attorney with more experience.
Also, a lawyer will prevent you from undervaluing your situation and injuries. Many ailments get worst over time, such as a head injury or broken bones. Because of this, victims will underestimate the value of their case and end up getting a smaller settlement, which isn’t just.
5. Overlooking the Lawyer’s Credentials
A common mistake is accepting a lawyer’s outlandish claims because it’s likely not real. If you notice anything like this on their website, double-check that they can legally operate in your state. Also, as you can imagine, hiring an unlicensed attorney is illegal and will harm your case.
Further, avoid lawyers who guarantee a successful outcome, even if they’ve worked on a similar case. This is because there are countless variables at play that could affect your settlement offer.
You should also shortlist attorneys who have professional memberships or extra certifications. Not only does it prove they have the know-how, but shows the lawyer is dedicated to providing the best service for their clients.
6. Ignoring Negative Reviews
If you’re not reading online reviews, you’re potentially wasting your money. But it’s even worse if you’re ignoring negative comments on their website or Google Business page. Ideally, you want a lawyer who has a good reputation and a list of happy clients who will vouch for them.
Although hiring a bad lawyer is cheaper, you don’t want to gamble on your future.
7. Hiring the First Candidate
Being involved in a car accident is traumatizing and emotionally distressing, so it makes sense to hire the first attorney you meet.
Although you may get short-term relief, it could end up being a huge mistake. By not taking the time to meet and assess other candidates, you miss out on other attorneys’ strengths that could make or break your case. A good rule of thumb is to interview at least five so you can make a better-informed decision.
Also, don’t hire an attorney over the phone. Most reputable law firms offer free consultations where you can share your situation and see whether you both gel. If you pick up on any red flags, trust your gut and continue your search.
Further, never choose an attorney who pressures you to sign a contract. Many dodgy lawyers use these tactics to get prospects, but you have the right to take your time and review your options first.
8. Paying the Lawyer Upfront
No reputable lawyer will ask for payment upfront. You’ll find that most lawyers ask for payment at the end of your case or if they win. This is known as a contingency fee basis.
You should also ask the lawyer how much to pay for legal support. Reputable attorneys will be clear about the costs, so you don’t discover any hidden fees later on. Ideally, the attorney should give you an invoice that breaks down their services and prices.
9. Not Asking the Right Questions
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of candidates, come prepared with a list of questions.
Don’t be afraid to ask any question, regardless of how trivial you think it is, because having a clear understanding is crucial. For example, ask about the types of cases that the lawyer handles and their opinion about yours. Ask whether you’ve noticed any issues or difficulties that you should be aware of.
You should also ask whether any personal injury cases went to trial. Generally, most cases are settled before reaching court, but you want an attorney with experience in a courtroom for peace of mind.
Further, ask candidates how they’ll communicate with you. Many lawyers are more comfortable sending updates via e-mail, while others prefer a phone call. Note, avoid lawyers who constantly want to meet in person because they may bill you for your time, which can quickly add up.
Although lawyers aren’t overly personal, you want someone who is firm but compassionate. Because it’s a distressing time, it’s important you’re comfortable with the lawyer so that you can be 100% honest. On the flip side, you may want an attorney who is aggressive and will tear the opponent apart if that makes you feel better.
If you’re hiring a lawyer from a big firm, ask whether a team or an individual will be fighting your case. Often, hiring multiple attorneys is reserved for more complex cases so you want to be clear from the get-go.
10. Failing to Set a Timeline
Filing a case is time-sensitive and a credible lawyer knows this. Once you’ve agreed on a lawyer, be clear about a timeline to avoid any disputes. You want an attorney who is realistic about their services and estimate a range so you’re both on the same page.
Further, create a plan for once you’ve received a settlement. Take an objective approach and figure out how you’ll use the money, whether it’s covering medical bills or replenishing your savings. And if you’re worried about how much money to ask for, your lawyer will understand what’s reasonable, depending on your case.
Avoid These Mistakes When Picking a Car Accident Lawyer
Hopefully, you’re ready to start researching and picking a car accident lawyer for your case.
There are many traps to avoid, such as hiring the first attorney you meet and not asking each candidate the right questions. You should also deep-dive into the review section and never pay a lawyer upfront as that’s a major red flag. Good luck with your search!
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