If you’ve been involved in an Illinois car accident, you already know the stress that comes in the aftermath. In addition to dealing with whatever injuries you’ve suffered in the crash, you’re also forced to deal with doctors and their billing departments, insurance companies, and law enforcement. The last thing you need is to handle all of this on your own.
One of the most important things you can do after a vehicle accident is to contact an experienced personal injury attorney. He or she can help you navigate the difficult aftermath of an accident, and ensure your rights are protected. Unfortunately, too many people feel they can’t afford an attorney, or they are intimidated by the idea of working with a lawyer.
Scheduling a consultation with an attorney does not automatically mean you are a client. As a matter of fact, you should meet with an attorney, possibly a few attorneys, and discuss your case before officially hiring someone to represent you. Most attorneys offer these consultations free of charge, and they are happy to answer your questions.
What should you ask during these consultations and how can an attorney help you after a car accident?
Car Accident Attorney Experience
- Do you focus on a particular type of personal injury case?
- Is it traffic accidents?
- How much experience do you have with vehicle accidents?
Some personal injury attorneys are notorious for aggressive advertising, but often, these firms are not all they’re cracked up to be. You need to find an attorney who specializes in personal injury cases like your own. A lot goes into building a case, and the process is much easier with an attorney who is experienced with insurance companies and the court system.
Odds of Settling Out of Court
- How many of your cases go to trial?
- Do you think my case will go to trial or settle out of court?
- Do you have a preference?
It’s common for personal injury cases, especially those centered around vehicle accidents, to settle out of court. However, it’s important any attorney you hire work as if your case could go to court. If you are told up front your case is likely to settle, it could mean he or she is already resolved to handle things out of court and not fight for the compensation you deserve.
Car Accident Case Timeline
- How long do most vehicle accident injury cases take to resolve?
- How long until you file a lawsuit if I don’t settle?
As in most industries, different car accident attorneys work on different time frames. You want to work with a firm that approaches your case with the same urgency you feel. If your attorney is not going to act until there is a risk of the statute of limitations running out, it’s only going to hurt your case in the long run. The sooner you act, the better when it comes to dealing with personal injury cases. There’s nothing wrong with asking for specifics when it comes to filing lawsuits and dealing with your case.
Attorney Communication Style
- How often will we discuss my case?
- How will we discuss it? (Email, phone, in-person meetings?)
- To whom will I speak?
It’s important to have reasonable expectations for communication when working with a car accident attorney. You shouldn’t expect updates about your case every single day, and in the world of personal injury lawsuits, it can take some time for things to move forward. However, your attorney should be speaking to you on a regular basis and providing you with updates – even if there is nothing to update for a given period of time.
You should also determine with whom you will be speaking about your case. If you initially meet with a paralegal or someone other than an attorney, you can assume this will be the case throughout the process. Though there is nothing wrong with your attorney’s staff also assisting you, you don’t want a lawyer to disappear once you’ve hired him or her to handle your case.
Attorney Case Focus
- What is your current caseload?
- Is there time to take on another case and give it your full attention?
Good lawyers are often busy, and sometimes this means they are too busy to give your case the attention it deserves. You’re better off working with someone who has experience and can devote time to your case than you are working with the most famous lawyer in your community.
Day-to-day Management of Your Case
Will I be able to refer insurance company calls and other people calling to speak to me about my accident to your office?
You’re likely to get a lot of phone calls, some of which might feel like harassment, in the weeks and months following your accident. Make sure it’s acceptable to refer these calls to your car accident attorney.
Past Clients and References
- Do you have any references?
- Can I speak to any past clients whose cases were similar to mine?
It’s a good idea to speak to clients with whom your attorney has already worked. Obviously, he or she will give you references who will say positive things, but you can still get a feel for whether or not an attorney’s style is right for you from past clients. You should also check online reviews and contact professional organizations for more information.
Case Settlement and Fees
- What fees are associated with representation?
- Is there a contingency fee?
- What percentage of my settlement will you receive as your fee?
- What type of settlement can I expect based on my injuries and other circumstances?
It’s important to know up front what an attorney charges and when those charges must be paid. You’ll be signing a contract, so you’re legally obligated to pay attorney’s fees, regardless of the outcome of your case. Sometimes, attorneys only charge you if you win, but this needs to be established in advance.
An experienced attorney can give you an idea of what type of settlement you can expect based on your injuries. The last thing you want is to have unrealistic expectations.
Do you want to handle my case?
What makes you the best attorney for me?
It’s important to work with an attorney who is eager to take on your case and who is confident enough to get you the compensation you deserve.
If you have been in a car accident and are injured, we invite you to get to know us. Contact Walton Telken Injury Attorneys today.