Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer in Maryland
(How to Select an Attorney and What Questions to Ask a Prospective Lawyer)
After you get into an accident, as soon as the shock of what happened wears off, many questions arise. What do I do about my pain? What doctor should I see? How do I make an insurance claim? Which insurance is responsible? Who will pay for my car repairs?
Hiring a personal injury lawyer can not only help guide you through the entire process, but it will allow you to focus on your recovery and treating your injuries, while your attorney handles all the other tasks. In addition, a good lawyer will try to recover the maximum compensation possible for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other harms and losses that you may have suffered. But not all lawyers made equal. Some of the Questions and answers below can help with screening through many available attorneys so that you can choose the right one.
When you need a lawyer vs. when you can handle a claim yourself?
It is always a good idea to have someone on your side with knowledge and expertise. However, if your accident does not involve injuries, you may decide it is not necessary to involve an attorney and that you should be safe on your own handling car damage repair issues directly with the insurance company. Alternatively, if your claim does involve personal injuries, a good lawyer on your side may be a great asset to you. Your lawyer will, in most cases, handle all communication with the adverse parties and/or insurance companies, as well as conducnt their own independent investigation into the accident, as well as present your injury claim to an adjuster, negotiate for a fair compensation and/or fight for you in court.
When should I speak to an attorney?
It is best to not speak with insurance directly or give any statements immediately after the collision without discussing the matter with an attorney first. Thus, if you think you are going to need to hire an attorney after an accident, we recommend that you do so, as soon as possible.
What are some questions to ask a personal injury lawyer before you hire them?
1. What are your fees?
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis and charge 33% fee for pre-litigation cases and 40% on litigated cases.
2. If I lose, will I be responsible for any case-related costs?
Typically, if you do not receive any compensation, your lawyer does not receive any attorney’s fees. However, you may be responsible for costs. This is a good question to ask the prospective attorney.
3. Have you tried any personal injury cases like mine? How much experience do you have?
There are many personal injury areas and not all lawyers handle all types of cases. Ask if the prospective attorney has previously handled a case similar to yours. If an attorney only works on worker’s compensation cases, for example, you may not want to hire that attorney for a car accident case.
4. How much time can you dedicate to my case and how often will I be updated?
You want to make sure you are not just going to be a number and that your attorney will dedicate the time and attention your case deserves. Also, different people want different amount of communication from their attorney, so be clear about how involved you want to be.
5. How long does it take to resolve a case like mine?
Many factors can influence how long it takes to resolve a case, but potential lawyers should be able to give you a rough estimate.
6. What if my case does not settle?
Most people want an attorney that is a good litigator and will fight for them all the way. Ask about their experience in litigating cases.
7. What is my case worth?
A good lawyer will never promise you any specific amounts, but they can explain the various factors such as liability, extent of injuries, amount of the property damages, preexisting medical issues, jurisdiction that might impact a settlement offer or verdict. Once those factors are known, your attorney can give a good idea of a range of compensation you can expect from a settlement or verdict. However, it is always understood that results are never guaranteed.
8. Are there any reviews or past client testimonials I can see?
Do your research. There is a lot of information on the internet, and it can be valuable when choosing an attorney. Check potential law firm’s websites, read their past clients testimonials, google reviews, and any other client reviews or comments available. There is always going to be someone unhappy, but this information can help you get a general feel for the firm and how they treat their clients. Does the prospective lawyer have 99% five-star reviews? If so, this may be a good indicator that the lawyer takes client service issues seriously and tries really hard to make his clients happy.
9. Do you have interpreters on staff?
Some attorneys have bilingual staff or interpreters and if your first language is other than English, this could be very helpful to communicate comfortably with your attorney.
In summary, selecting a good attorney can be daunting, but it might be the most important step you take with your accident case. Having an experienced lawyer on your side will help you in your fight for fair representation and a good lawyer will always seek maximum compensation for you.
By: Natalie Ulrich