How to Choose a Car Accident Lawyer for Judicial Proceedings
Car accidents are a common occurrence and most people will be involved in a car accident
at some point in their lives. Some car accidents are insignificant and provide little cause for concern, but many car accidents cause devastating injuries
and property damage. People who suffered harm due to a car accident will often file a lawsuit to seek compensation from the party that caused the accident. But it can seem as if there are literally countless lawyers in your city to choose from. And choosing the right lawyer can seem like a massive challenge.
Choosing a lawyer requires time to thoroughly research your options. Picking the first attorney you speak with could be detrimental to your case. Lawyers that don’t have the important attributes listed below are less likely to get you the settlement amount you need to fully cover all your losses and damages.
If you were involved in a car accident it is vital to choose an attorney with the skills and experience needed to provide you with your best chance for a favorable legal result under the facts of your case
[Read: When Do I Need to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?]
Consider the Following Questions When You’re Choosing a Lawyer
When selecting a car accident attorney to represent you or a loved one after being injured by a negligent driver, you should consider your choices very seriously. It’s imperative that you do your due diligence to ensure that you are selecting the best possible lawyer or law firm to represent your injury claim.
You do not want to end up with an attorney that is:
- New at practicing law
- Doesn’t handle car accident cases full time
- Isn’t willing to go to court if necessary
- Unable to fully assess the extent of your injuries
- Not highly rated with online reviews
- Not recognized by their colleagues as an outstanding lawyer
Luckily, it is possible to find a lawyer or law firm that is right for you. You just have to be willing to put in the time and know what you are looking for. Attorneys that are not so great are unable to hide it. And good attorneys will leave clues everywhere.
Here are some questions to consider when choosing an Illinois car accident lawyer.
How experienced is the attorney or law firm?
One of the most important elements to consider in choosing a car accident attorney to represent you in judicial proceedings is the attorney’s experience in handling car accident cases. Each state has different procedural laws. Moreover, each type of case has unique elements that the plaintiff must prove in order to present a successful case. So, it is essential to choose an attorney who is well-versed in what it takes to help you set forth a strong case.
It's also important to determine:
- how long an attorney you are considering hiring has been practicing law
- what percentage of the cases the attorney handles are car accident cases
- how many car accident cases the attorney has actually taken to court
Some attorneys will choose to settle a case prior to trial. This isn't always beneficial to their client. Thus, it's critical to hire an attorney who will try your case if necessary given the circumstances.
How long have they been practicing law?
One of the qualifications that you should take into account when choosing a car accident lawyer is how long they have been practicing law. Yes, a new attorney could be awesome at their job. But they often simply do not have the experience, settlement and verdict record, resources, and connections that it takes to be a good personal injury lawyer.
Getting a client a high settlement and performing well in court are things that come with time. The longer someone has practiced law, the more times they’ve dealt with insurance companies. They have more experience defending their clients' best interests. And they've worked around issues that would normally be sticking points in personal injury cases. Typically, the more time a lawyer has been practicing, the better they know the industry and the tricky tactics insurance companies use
Do they specifically handle personal injury cases?
There are many attorneys who will take on any case they can get. Lots of people don’t know this, but a licensed attorney can take on any type of case they want. When an attorney does not focus on one specific legal practice area, they can spread themselves and their knowledge too thin to be effective in any one practice area.
Choosing a car accident lawyer that only, or primarily, handles personal injury cases is important because the vast amount of their experience and knowledge will be applicable to your situation.
This is not to say that attorneys that handle multiple types of legal areas are bad at their jobs. It's just one factor that can help point you in the direction of the right car accident attorney for your case.
Are they willing to take your injury case to trial?
One of the questions you should ask a law firm is about their trial record. While most personal injury cases are settled before they make it to trial, there are some circumstances in which a case needs to go to court. For this reason, you need to know whether or not your attorney will be capable and confident in filing a lawsuit and taking your case to trial.
Settling with an insurance adjuster over the phone and litigating in court are two very different scenarios. Lots of people are surprised to find that some personal injury attorneys have never spent a day representing their client in an actual courtroom.
Credible car accident lawyers understand how to negotiate a settlement
so that they can get their client the highest possible compensation amount in the fastest amount of time. However, when the insurance company simply refuses to pay the proper value of the claim, it will be necessary to file a lawsuit. If this is the route that you need to go, you need to know that your attorney will be willing and ready to act.
Some firms never go to court and only settle cases quickly. These are known as settlement mills. We cover them more extensively below.
Have you received an honest assessment of your injury case?
Moreover, it is important to retain an attorney who will thoroughly analyze your case and give you an honest assessment as to its value and any obstacles to your recovery. The majority of car accident cases allege that the plaintiff suffered harm due to the negligence of the defendant.
To prove negligence, you must show that the defendant owed you a duty. Then, you must prove that the defendant breached that duty. Finally, it must be proven that the breach caused the accident.
You must also show you suffered damages as a result of the accident. In many cases, the defendant will argue that the plaintiff was negligent and thus should be precluded from recovering damages.
For example, in Illinois a plaintiff can be found negligent and still recover damages, however, as long as their contributory negligence
is not more than 50%. Your attorney is the liaison between you and the judiciary system. Therefore, they should not only be able to present effective arguments that the defendant should be held liable. They should also be able to anticipate and address any obstacles to your recovery.
What are their online reviews like?
We live in an online world. So reviews are an excellent resource for understanding what other people just like you think about a lawyer or law firm that you are considering hiring.
Naturally, there will be reviews that are outliers. Avoid focusing on the extremes. Instead, look at the total number of reviews and the overall message they are portraying.
You can read Abels & Annes’ Google reviews by clicking here.
Has the car accident attorney been recognized by their peers?
Besides reviews from past clients, attorneys can also receive a type of review from colleagues and peers in the form of awards and recognitions. Usually, these are decided by a voting process or by a nomination process.
Before you choose a car accident attorney to handle your injury claim, look to see if they have been recognized by their peers for their experience and expertise.
Abels and Annes has been recognized by quite a few different organizations over the years. Here are a few select examples:
What is their settlement and verdict record like?
Another excellent way to see if a car accident attorney has the experience and expertise that you want in a lawyer is to look at their settlement and verdict record. There is no official place to find this information. However, attorneys that have obtained large settlement amounts for their clients almost always put that information on their website.
Click here to see Abels & Annes Settlements and Verdicts
Is the law firm a settlement mill?
A settlement mill is a law firm that represents a large quantity of clients without any intention of taking their cases to trial. This is the easiest way for the firm to get their cut without much work. They settle their cases early and often, leaving their clients without enough money to cover their damages. They usually accomplish this through deceiving their clients and focusing on building a constant stream of new clients.
Settlement mills have a very specific business model. They use ads and fancy marketing to get lots of new clients. Then, they convince their clients to settle their cases as quickly as possible. It allows them to take their cut and move on to the next client.
These operations often leave thousands of dollars on the table and usually leave clients with unpaid medical bills and other uncovered damages because enough thought was not put into the actual damages in the case. If you are wondering if a firm is a settlement mill, look at their reviews. The cat will usually come diving out of the bag.
Meet with an Experienced Car Accident Attorney Regarding Your Case
There may be many lawyers throughout your state. But not all attorneys possess the same experience and skills for litigating car accident cases. If you suffered damages in a car accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence it is essential to choose the right attorney to assist you in pursuing your claim for compensation. The car accident attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C. will work diligently to gather the facts and evidence needed to set forth a strong case in support of your position that the negligent party should be held liable for your harm. We can be reached at (312) 924-7575
or through our online form
to set up a free and confidential consultation.