7 Tips for Finding the Right California Auto Accident Lawyer
Fatalities and injuries suffered in multi-vehicle crashes are up 16% from 2020. The increase in damages and injuries means that more people face the difficult task of getting their vehicle repaired and seeking medical treatment. Thankfully, you don’t have to do this alone. Keep these seven tips in mind when looking for a California auto accident lawyer to represent you.
1. Ask for Recommendations
With so many people experiencing auto accidents, the odds are likely that you know someone who has hired an auto accident lawyer. Start by asking the people you know for their referral or recommendation. These are the best people to ask because you know them and have context for their experiences.
If you don’t know anyone that can give you a recommendation, your next option is to look online. There are plenty of websites where clients can write reviews for their attorneys. However, read these reviews with a critical eye.
People are much more likely to write a review when they are unhappy versus happy. Unfortunately, this means the reviews are typically more skewed negative than positive.
In addition, people are more likely to write a review when the outcome of their case isn’t what they wanted. This outcome may not reflect the attorney’s knowledge or skill. Identify reviews that highlight the lawyer’s responsiveness and patience in explaining and answering questions.
2. Consider the Firm Size
There are pros and cons to firm size. For example, large firms have more resources, making them stronger when negotiating with insurance companies or going to trial. However, larger firms also have more clients, making it easier for your case to get less attention.
Smaller firms may lack the resources and presence that the larger firms have. However, their smaller size also means they can give you more focused attention and representation.
Ask the firm about the resources available to dedicate to your case. In addition, ask about the firm’s network of professionals that can assist with your claim. This could include crash experts, medical professionals, or anyone else that can provide expert witness testimony.
Whatever size firm you choose, it should be one that you feel comfortable with.
3. Verify Legal Services Offered
Some law firms base their practice on negotiation and mediation. They represent clients by communicating with the insurance company to establish the client’s claim. Then they come to a settlement agreement.
This type of service is nice because it’s typically faster than going to trial. However, sometimes a settlement doesn’t get reached. When this happens, your case may need to go to trial.
If you hire a settlement-focused firm, you may pay significantly higher rates for trial representation or may have to hire another firm. Representing a client during trial requires significantly more time and resources from the law firm than representing a client during a settlement negotiation, which results in higher fees charged by the law firm. In addition, starting over with a new lawyer is less than ideal because they weren’t with you from the beginning, and you have to do the lawyer search all over again.
4. Track Record
A lawyer’s or law firm’s track record cannot guarantee the outcome of your case. It is unethical for a lawyer to promise a particular outcome.
These outcomes are not guaranteed, as every case has a different set of facts that warrant a specific outcome.
A better approach is the ask the lawyer about case outcomes that have similar facts to yours. This can give you more realistic expectations about the possible outcome of your case.
5. Preferred Communication Method
One of the most common complaints clients have about lawyers is the lack of communication between them and the lawyer. Sometimes this is because the lawyer isn’t good at communicating. But, more often than not, the real problem is a difference in preferred communication styles.
When you meet with a lawyer, pay attention to how they communicate. You two should have an easy rapport that allows for collaborative communication. Additionally, ask the lawyer about their preferred communication method.
If you prefer to talk on the phone, but the lawyer primarily uses email, this could create problems later on.
Do not base your choice of lawyer purely on fees or cost. The most expensive or the cheapest you can find isn’t always the best option. A better option is to look for the best quality California auto accident attorney and firm within your budget.
Lawyers that charge you a retainer will require a lump sum payment upfront. Other lawyers charge their clients on a contingency fee basis. This means you pay nothing upfront, but the lawyer will take a percentage of the amount you get awarded.
Review the terms of your contingency agreement carefully. Some lawyers don’t include court fees in this, so you’re still liable for these fees even if you don’t win your case. You have the right to ask the lawyer for an estimate of these costs before you hire them.
Others will take their percentage before subtracting fees, giving them a higher payment. For example, assume the court awards $1,000 in damages, and there are $300 in court fees. A lawyer taking their 30% payment from the award pre-court fee deduction would receive $300, while an attorney taking their fee post-court fee deduction would receive $210.
You have the right to have another lawyer review the fee agreement before signing. You also have the right to negotiate the lawyer’s fees.
7. Research the Lawyer’s History
Do your due diligence when it comes to choosing a lawyer. After meeting someone who feels promising, look them up on the California Bar website. Then, use the lawyer search function to look at the lawyer’s professional history.
This website can tell you whether or not the lawyer is actively allowed to practice law in California. It can also tell you what their disciplinary history is. Naturally, you don’t want a lawyer with questionable professional practices to jeopardize the outcome of your case.
Hire a California Auto Accident Lawyer
If you’ve recently experienced a car accident, you don’t have to face the aftermath alone. Schedule consultations with California auto accident lawyers to start the representation process. Find out about their specialization, performance track record, services offered, and fee schedules.
Schedule a consultation with one of our experienced auto accident lawyers to discuss the circumstances surrounding your claim.