The number of crashes in Texas resulting in serious injuries was 12,161 in 2018. The total number of people who sustained serious injuries in those crashes was 14,908.
No one wants to be a part of those statistics, but if you find yourself in a serious car accident you need to know what to do next.
Contacting a Houston car accident attorney is one of the first steps you should take, especially if you suffered injuries or major property damage.
A car accident attorney can advocate for you, whether or not you go to court. Your attorney takes over negotiations with the insurance company to give you a better chance of getting a fair settlement offer.
But before choosing an attorney, ask some quick questions to figure out if they’re a good match.
Here are eight questions you should ask.
1. What Experience Do You Have?
You always want an attorney with experience in a specific area of law.
It’s perfectly fine to choose an attorney that works in different areas of law. But you want to make sure they have experience specifically in handling car accident cases.
If the attorney only handles a few car accident cases a year, they might not be up-to-date on all of the relevant laws and strategies for handling the case.
In Texas, technically you have two years from the date of an accident to file a lawsuit, but you need to get in touch with a personal injury, Houston car accident attorney the same day or the day after your accident to have strong chances to have a valid case (This step is super important and critical, do not get stuck with your medical bills and life changes, by ignoring this critical step). You need an attorney who understands the urgency, will guide you, and will take quick action in your case.
Ask prospective attorneys how many car accident cases they normally handle. Ask about the types of car accident cases they’ve worked on to see if they’re similar to your situation.
2. What’s Your Approach to Car Accident Cases?
Attorneys have different approaches to cases. Some love to litigate. Others prefer to avoid litigation at all costs.
Most car accident cases are settled out of court, but there’s a chance your case could require litigation. Finding someone who has experience in court with car accident cases is important. You also want to find someone who’s willing to litigate if it comes to that.
Assess each attorney’s approach to handling car accident cases to see if it aligns with what you want. If you prefer a faster payout without the stress of going to court, look for an attorney who has success with negotiating.
3. Who Will Handle My Case?
Even if you meet with an attorney initially, your case might get passed on to an experienced associate or another experienced staff member. Find out how the firm handles car accident cases.
Will one attorney handle everything? Do the lawyers work as a team on cases to get different perspectives? Will an associate handle all of the work? (Teamwork can be a major lever for case analysis and success)
All of these approaches can work in your favor, but you might prefer one over another. It’s important that you know what to expect so you’re not surprised if you hear from a different attorney about your case. An experienced team can have its own style to drive success.
4. How Do You Handle Payments?
For personal injury cases, many lawyers work on a contingency fee basis. That means you don’t have to pay upfront for the attorney’s services.
Instead, your attorney takes a percentage of any settlement amount you get. If you don’t get a settlement, you don’t pay anything.
Ask if the attorney works on a contingency fee basis (No Win No Fee!). If someone is asking you for free upfront, they might not be confident in their skills, so you can compare the options.
Even though part of your settlement goes to your lawyer, you’ll often come out ahead. Lawyers often push for higher settlement amounts than the insurance company would offer you. They also know how to negotiate successfully to get you the full damage and long-term effect payouts. This is why it is important to work with a personal injury team that has the experience and handles at least 20-30 cases per month.
5. What Is Your Evaluation of My Case?
Most attorneys offer a free consultation on car accident cases. This is your chance to find out what the attorney thinks about your chances.
Ask what type of settlement the attorney thinks you can get. No attorney can guarantee a win or a certain amount of money. But you should be able to get an idea of your chances of winning and an estimate of what you might get. This is important as the experienced attorneys can review your case and let you know from the getgo and save you the time and effort, but in the end, the final decision to take the case ahead is up to you, the lawyer is just an advisor and an executioner to fight for your rights.
6. How Would You Handle My Case?
Even if you already asked how the attorney typically handles car accident cases, don’t be afraid to ask how they would handle your specific case.
Each case is unique. Your case might be an easy one to settle out of court, or the attorney might anticipate the need for litigation.
You can also ask what type of compensation the attorney might seek on your behalf. Ask if the lawyer anticipates any potential problems with the case. Work with the attorney’s staff as a team to maximize your success chances.
7. How Do You Handle Communication?
You want your case settled quickly, but you also want to give your attorney time to work on the case. If you’re constantly calling or emailing to get updates, that takes time away from working on your case.
Knowing what to expect for communication can ease your anxiety. Ask how often you can expect to hear from your attorney, as well as the type of communication you’ll get.
8. What Is My Role in the Case?
Your attorney takes the lead in negotiating with insurance companies, investigating the case, and coming up with a strategy. But you may have some responsibilities in the case, too.
Ask each attorney what you’re expected to do. Ask if there are things you can do to improve your chances of getting a larger settlement.
The attorney will need certain pieces of information from you, including details on what happened. You might need to provide photos, witness contact information, accident documentation, and other details you have from the accident. This helps your attorney evaluate the case and prove liability.
Some attorneys might handle more of the work than others. Some might expect you to take a more active role in completing paperwork and handling other aspects of the case.
Knowing what’s expected of you and what you can do to help is important going into the agreement.
Find a Reliable Houston Car Accident Attorney
When you’ve been in a car accident, it’s important to get legal help quickly. But you don’t want to settle for the first attorney you find. Ask questions to narrow the options until you find the best option for your situation.
Are you in need of a Houston car accident attorney? Contact us today for a free consultation on your case.