Deciding what Atlanta auto accident lawyer to hire after an accident is a begins long before meeting them for the first time. It starts from when you first realize that you’ll be needing the services of competent legal counsel to handle your auto accident claim.
In a way, hiring a good car accident lawyer in Atlanta is not complicated. There are a lot of attorneys to choose from. But it can be a risky decision if you do not do your research. It’s not exactly the same as buying Starbucks coffee. At least with Starbucks, you know you’re getting pretty much the same service, no matter where you are.
Lawyers vary widely in terms of style, service, and competence. Most of the time, you’re not really sure what you’re getting into until you’re long into the relationship. And you’d usually have invested too much to back out by then.
Avoid Getting Stuck With the Wrong Attorney
Finding out that you chose the wrong attorney after your case is already underway is a problem. It’s a scenario that no one likes. But the truth is it happens often, and too easily. Mostly because don’t research attorneys before they need them, and by the time they need them, the need is so urgent that there is not enough time to really do some research. Many people are willing to settle for their first option or a dodgy referral.
Every attorney will tell you they are the best. How do you make sure they really are the best for you? How do you make sure you don’t end up regretting your decision?
These 7 questions can help you size them up and get the information you need to make your decision.
#1: Do they only handle auto accident cases?
Lawyers have specialties. They are similar to doctors, except there is no such thing as a ‘general practice’ lawyer. Each legal practice area requires a level of expertise that makes it impossible to be competent in every legal area.
You want a lawyer that specializes in auto accident cases. They are more likely understand the complex nuances of that area of law. The fact that they’re involved in it on a day to day basis means that they’re better equipped to handle your claim and can get you the best result possible.
This doesn’t mean a lawyer that practices in several areas of law is not competent. Some areas of the law complement each other. For instance, attorney Luis Virgüez at Virgüez & Associates is well versed in immigration law and personal injury so he can handle complex cases that have implications in both areas. For example, if an auto accident affects a person who was driving without a license because they are in the country illegally, could benefit from contacting an attorney like attorney Virgüez who can help them avoid deportation and handle the personal injury claim as well.
It is important to ask the attorney what types of law they specialize in. Ask them, if they specialize in auto accident cases. If the answer is no, then you may be better off taking your auto accident claim elsewhere.
#2: How many cases like yours have they taken to trial?
There are two reasons why you need to ask this question. First, it tells you how much experience your prospective Atlanta auto accident lawyer has. While inexperience is not equal to incompetence, an experienced lawyer is much more likely to know how to navigate unexpected turns in the case or challenges.
The best lawyers are seen as the best because they’ve done it all before, and done it well. They already know what to expect and have probably already learned most of the lessons that need learning. When your lawyer has the experience they will also have a reputation to go with it.
Their experience and reputation are also indicators of how likely they are to ensure the best result for your case. While the majority of cases are settled out of court, up to 87 percent according to this study, situations will arise when your case needs to go to court. You need to be sure that your lawyer will be ready to take your case to court if that’s what the circumstances require.
#3: How strong do they think your claim is?
This question can help you see if they’ll be sincere with you. It’s important for your lawyer to be honest with you about the strength and value of your case. If they cannot be honest with you about where your case is weak and how they think your claim will fare in court, then you’re probably off to a wrong start.
You want confidence in your auto accident lawyer, but if they’re promising you a result they’re probably being insincere. This is because every good lawyer knows that a lot of factors develop over the course of a case and can affect its outcome. If they are over promising a positive outcome, this can be a red flag. Attorneys like attorney Virgüez are experienced enough not to raise hopes. There are cases when he is cautiously optimistic but will usually explain potential risks too.
#4: Will they be personally involved with your case?
You want to know exactly who will be working on your case. Often times, law firms have a principal or star lawyer that they have on their advertisements. But will they be working on your case directly?
Don’t assume that the lawyer on the ads will be the one to take up your case. Sometimes, the featured lawyer doesn’t live in the local community, doesn’t have time to take up your case or may not even be barred. In fact, with the larger firms, your case will most likely be assigned to another lawyer at the firm and not the principal attorney.
Make sure you find out exactly who will be working on your case and ensure you’re happy with the arrangement and that specific attorney’s experience.
#5: What do their former clients say about them?
If an auto accident lawyer is unlikable or untrustworthy, it can affect your case. You don’t want that affecting the opinion of judges, insurance adjuster or other people that will have a direct impact on your case. It could affect your ability to relate properly with them and collaborate towards the success of your case. Researching reviews can help you avoid working with someone who has a poor reputation.
70 percent of clients are willing to go to an attorney farther from where they live if they have better reviews than lawyers that are closer to home. This is because they understand the importance of testimonials and reviews in assessing the competence of legal counsel.
This can be one of the best ways to find out about the style of a lawyer and tell if they would be a good fit for you. The things their former clients are saying about them are usually good indications as to how they operate and the results they have had.
There are several online resources where you can find reviews and testimonials about lawyers. Yelp is a good place you can check up on your prospect. Avvo, Google+ and Lawyers.com also provide extensive lawyer reviews.
#6: How often will they be available to talk to you?
You are entitled to honest, in-depth, personal updates about your case from your lawyer. They may assign a team to help with your case such as a legal secretary or paralegal who may reach out to you as well. But you should be available to talk to you about the case directly with your attorney if it is necessary.
Auto accidents are often difficult experiences that require more than just an impersonal gladiator fighting your legal battles. So your auto accident lawyer and their team should be committed enough to your case to guide you through the process with a level of sympathy.
If you have to struggle to get in touch with the firm or the lawyer handling your case or if your phone calls are continually left unreturned, then you may be barking up the wrong tree.
#7: What is their fee?
Auto accident attorneys usually have several arrangements for fees. Some attorneys require an upfront payment while others collect a percentage of whatever is recovered from trial or settlement. This is called a contingency fee. At Virgüez & associates, most auto accident cases are billed via a contingency arrangement so that if we don’t win, you don’t pay anything.
It’s very important to sort the issue of fees out right from the start so you don’t get into the relationship before discovering that it doesn’t make sense for you financially. You also need to be sure that the fees you are being charged will be equivalent to the quality of service you will be getting.
Bonus: Are you comfortable with your Atlanta auto accident lawyer?
Now that you’re aware of what you need to make the best decision on your car accident lawyer in Atlanta, you can venture on your search with confidence. If you are not comfortable with your auto accident lawyer, it may be possible to make a change without adversely affecting your claim. This can be done more easily when you are within the first few weeks of a case but it does not hurt to try if it’s past that point. The best thing to do is to contact the lawyer you believe may better fit your needs and let that attorney advise you of your options.