In 2019, motor vehicle accidents injured an estimated 2.74 million people in the US alone. This is 1.1% higher compared to the vehicle crash injuries the year before. Overall, there were about 6.76 million police-reported road crashes in the US in 2019.
Full reports for 2020 aren’t out yet, but experts project there were more crash deaths that year than in 2019. An estimated 28,000 people lost their lives due to car crashes in the first three quarters of 2020 alone.
If you’ve been in a crash yourself, consider hiring a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. An attorney can help you file a third-party claim, or if plausible, take your case to court.
On that note, we came up with this guide on how to choose a car accident lawyer. Read on to discover where and what to look for when picking a legal professional for your crash case.
Talk to People You Trust
Some experts estimate that about 40 million lawsuits get filed in the US annually. Most of these are civil filings involving legal disputes between two or more parties. Motor vehicle accident lawsuits are a perfect example of civil cases.
With lawsuits being so common, you likely have at least one person you trust who’ve had such an experience. If so, and that person was also a plaintiff in a car crash, ask them about the lawyer they hired. If they’re happy with how their attorney handled their case, ask for that lawyer’s name.
You’d want to talk to this attorney later on, but make sure you have at least two other choices.
Get in Touch With the ABA and Your State Bar Association
The American Bar Association (ABA) is a voluntary organization of legal experts in the US. It has over 400,000 members, many of whom are lawyers from all over the country. The ABA assists consumers with its lawyer referral and information services.
This means that you can ask the ABA for car accident attorney referrals. Note, however, that the ABA has no official standing, so it doesn’t serve as a disciplinary agency. ABA membership isn’t a requirement for attorneys in the US, either.
So, once you have the name of at least three car accident lawyers, the next step is to call your State Bar Association. In many states, attorneys must be a member of their State Bar. It’s the State Bar that monitors attorneys licensed to practice in that state.
Your State Bar Association can help confirm if your prospects do carry a valid license. They can also inform you of any past and current complaints made against those attorneys.
Trim Your Prospect List to Lawyers Specializing in Car Accidents
Personal injury lawyers can specialize in product liability, civil rights, or medical liabilities. So, even if they have a success rate in these areas, it doesn’t mean they can handle your car accident case. For this reason, it’s vital to check each attorney’s specific areas of specialization.
Find Out Who the Lawyer Represents the Most
One of the most crucial tips for choosing a car accident lawyer is to go with one who represents plaintiffs. Plaintiffs are those who file a claim or lawsuit against another person or entity. They’re usually the “victims” in legal disputes.
Some car accident attorneys represent plaintiffs in some cases and insurers in others. It’s best to avoid such lawyers, especially if the bulk of their clients are insurers. They may have become too “used” to defending insurance companies.
Ensure the Car Accident Lawyer Handles Complex Cases
One way a car crash can turn into a complicated case is if it involves long-term disability. Whiplash injuries are a perfect example. Research suggests that half of whiplash injury cases progress to long-term disability.
Another example is a traumatic brain injury (TBI), which can take days or even weeks to exhibit signs. Untreated TBIs can lead to seizures, fluid build-up in the brain, and infections. They can also cause blood vessel damage, vertigo, and persistent headaches.
Now, keep in mind that one in five of all TBI cases in the US result from car accidents. However, insurers can use delayed symptoms to their advantage. They may claim that the TBI may have resulted from other causes (and not the crash you were in).
Complicated car crash cases can also involve car defects and vehicle rollovers. Things can get even more complex if you add fault, no-fault, or contributory fault factors.
With all that said, make sure you ask each lawyer if they’ve handled complex cases like yours. The more experience they have in settling or taking similar cases to court, the better.
Be Certain Your Case Will Get Handled ASAP
Each state has a statute of limitations, which is a deadline for filing a lawsuit. In most states, car accident plaintiffs have about a year or two to start a legal dispute. That may seem like a long time, but remember, this kicks off from the day you sustain injuries.
Slow and efficient handling of cases can take months, or even a year or so, to negotiate. You can also add to that the possibility of “hidden injuries” that could make your case go to trial. In such cases, you may miss the deadline, and you will no longer be able to sue.
For this reason, make sure the car accident lawyer you choose can handle your case right away. Remember, some law firms may already be too busy handling other lawsuits, but brain injury law firm is always there to help. Even if they take your case, they may not be able to spend as much time on it as you want.
Let the Right Car Accident Lawyer Protect Your Rights
As you can see, choosing the right attorney can take many phone calls and interviews. However, all these will pay off since the best car accident lawyer will look out for your best interests. They’ll take over most of the legwork and negotiations, and if feasible, take your case to trial.
Besides, most car accident attorneys work on a contingency-fee-basis. This means you won’t pay them if they lose your case. So, that’s an incentive for them to work hard to win your case.
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