Lower gas prices, increased vehicles mileage and risky driving behaviors such as texting while driving are putting more people at risk of road accidents in the US. The National Safety Council estimates that 4.6 million people were injured seriously enough to require medical services in auto accidents in 2016. Here are things you need to know about engaging an auto accidents lawyer.
What Should I Do After an Accident?
As simple as it may sound, remaining silent about who is to blame for an accident is the most important thing to remember. Even a simple apology can be used against a potential litigant. Conversely, do not forget to take notes of any statements the other driver makes. You can use your smart phone or any device available to you to record pictures and voice memos in the chaos of an accident scene. Take down the other driver's name, license number, address, and insurance information. Record as many details as you can including the number of occupants in both cars, first people on the scene, description of the other car, road, traffic, crosswalks, and contacts of the police that assisted you. And even if you feel perfectly fine, always ensure you seek medical attention. As a potential plaintiff in a negligence case, not seeing a doctor could give the other party an opportunity to belittle the severity of your injuries.
When Should I Hire a Lawyer?
You may not need an attorney' assistance in clear-cut cases such as where there are no injuries, and there is clarity of liability meaning the person at fault acknowledges it. However, it would be prudent to seek legal advice from an auto accident lawyer when there is no clarity of responsibility, you do not know how to evaluate your claim, or you do not feel confident to negotiate a settlement for yourself. It is important that you hire a lawyer if you do not know how to prove your claim, the insurance company has denied your claim, the offer is too low, or there are significant medical bills even though you have no residual disability. You also will need a lawyer if the other party has served you with a lawsuit, or you cannot prove your lost wages in the case of sales people, consults or business persons. If you have a not too clear-cut case, refer to a car accident lawyer before you agree to any negotiations or proceedings.
How Do I choose an Auto Accident Lawyer?
An attorney that handles wills, property disputes and divorces may be a jack of all trades, but you risk getting poor representation. Do your research and select an attorney that does personal injury cases exclusively. Go for one that who has a history of taking cases to trial, and has a proven history of positive verdicts and large settlements. Accredited lawyers with active membership in state and national attorneys groups such as the American Bar Association are a good choice, and so is a lawyer with sufficient resources to carry your case through. Remember to check their reviews online or speak to past clients.
How Much Should I Pay?
Plaintiff's car accident lawyers' fees vary from state to state. A typical car accident lawyer will sign a contingency agreement where you will only pay the legal fee if the case is ruled in your favor and you receive your money. The lawyer will take a percentage of your claim, usually between 25 to 40 percent. One-third or 33 percent is pretty standard in most states. Just like every other contract, the fee is negotiable, and the percentage might shift if the details of the case radically change later. Depending on your lawyer and agreement, you may be responsible for the upfront court fees and other litigation-related expenses including expert witness fees, the cost of obtaining medical and police reports, and court reporter fees.
Personal injury law is complex and involves specialized practices. An auto accident lawyer, such as from Daniels Long & Pinsel, understands the field comprehensively, will discuss the facts of your case with you, and will advise on whether you have a case or not before asking you to commit to anything.