It only takes a few seconds to change your life forever—car accidents happen in a blink of an eye. In 2019 alone, the Bureau of Transportation Statistics found that there were 6,756,000 crashes, resulting in over two million injured Americans. When these traumatic and devastating crashes happen, many people turn to the legal system to seek compensation for their damages.
Hiring a car accident attorney is an important decision, as having legal representation can make a huge positive impact on the outcome of your case. But how do you find the best accident lawyer in your area? We’re taking a look at how to select an attorney that will be the right fit for you and your case.
What Type of Attorney Handles Car Accidents?
Typically the type of attorney that deals with car accidents will be a personal injury lawyer. However, not all personal injury lawyers are experienced in car accidents, as “personal injury” could also refer to:
- slip and fall accidents
- animal bites and attacks
- nursing home abuse
- medical malpractice
- construction accidents
- other types of transportation accident (plane, bike, boat)
Most personal injury lawyers specialize in some of these types of cases, so it’s important to make sure that you search for an auto accident lawyer. We’ll talk more about how to find and choose the best car accident attorney later in this guide.
What Does a Car Accident Lawyer Do?
The primary role of a car accident lawyer is to help you get the money you deserve to cover your short- and long-term expenses from an accident. A car accident lawyer does many different things to support your case, including:
- Offering Legal Advice
It’s important to understand your rights, and a car accident lawyer will help you do exactly that. They are professionals who are experts in the specific laws of your state. This is especially important because they will understand the best way to represent your case and look at the law as your advocate.
For example, in Indiana, if you are less than 51% at fault for an accident, you can recover damages from others involved after your own fault is subtracted. This is because Indiana is a modified comparative fault state. So, if a police officer tells you that you are at fault, you might think that you are out of luck—which might not actually be true. Additional evidence and information may establish that you are under that 51% threshold, and able to recover damages to cover expenses like medical bills, property damage, and lost wages.
- Investigating and Gathering Information
Another important thing that car accident lawyers do is investigate the full picture of your case on your behalf. They will work tirelessly to gather additional information that might have been missing from the initial scene. For example, your lawyer might be able to find video footage from the store near where the crash happened or hire an accident reconstructionist to reveal important evidence.
Your lawyer may be able to uncover police reports, witness statements, photographs, official government reports… the list goes on and on. Getting all the information is a difficult task that takes specialized knowledge of where to look, what to collect, and how to ask.
- Assessing the Full Extent of Damages
A personal injury lawyer can help you tell the story of how much this event has impacted you. They will collect and analyze your medical bills and medical treatment history, property damage, lost wages, and other harms and losses. Your lawyer will be able to help you pursue the fullest compensation possible. They’ll even think of things you might not have considered, like the projected costs of future medical treatment or compensation for loss of employment.
- Dealing With Insurance Companies
Is there anything more frustrating than trying to deal with insurance companies? There is so much back-and-forth after a car accident, and often insurance companies are trying to avoid paying out any money. Luckily, that’s where your lawyer comes in. Most people don’t negotiate on a daily basis, but lawyers are skilled at handling these types of situations. Your lawyer can review your policy details and handle all the communications with your insurance company, as well as help you to avoid doing anything that might jeopardize your claim.
You shouldn’t have to worry about bureaucracy and red tape when you’re recovering from a severe car accident, and your lawyer is your advocate and partner.
- Sending a Settlement Offer and Filing Paperwork
Speaking of bureaucracy and red tape… there’s a lot of specific legal procedures and paperwork that have to happen in the aftermath of an accident. Your lawyer will prepare a settlement letter that lays out all of the facts and will prompt injury settlement negotiations. If an agreement cannot be reached and your case goes to court, your lawyer will file all of the paperwork to make sure that happens.
- Representing You in Court
If your case does go to court, your attorney will represent you. They will make sure your case is presented strongly and accurately, including all of the evidence they’ve gathered and the full extent of damages.
How Much Do Lawyers Take From Car Accident Settlement?
At Broadwing, your car accident lawyer fees will be a 32% charge across the board. Some lawyers charge up to 40% of the final settlement amount! A good thing to know is that lawyers are required by law to fully disclose the extent of their fees from the beginning of the relationship. Most car accident lawyers work on a contingency fee, which means you won’t pay anything up front and the fee comes out of any amount that is won in the case. So, for example, if you win $200,000 and your lawyer has a 32% contingency fee, they will receive $64,000 and you will receive $136,000. In Indiana that amount will also be reduced by the percentage you are at fault for the accident.
It’s also important to realize that lawyer fees are not the only expenses that will impact you. For example, you may have to pay for expert witness testimony, filing paperwork, obtaining records, or accident reconstruction. Your lawyer is ethically obligated to inform you of these costs and include you in the decision to incur them beforehand. They should communicate with you about the strategy and possible expenses throughout the entire proceedings.
Is It Worth Getting a Lawyer for a Car Accident?
It depends on the accident and the specific circumstances. For accidents with a lot of damages or if you find yourself fighting with insurance companies, a car accident lawyer is definitely worth hiring. Additionally, if you want to be confident that you recover as many damages as possible, then you will probably want to hire a lawyer.
Is It Worth Getting a Lawyer for a Minor Car Accident?
It can be. You may not want to handle all of the paperwork or fight with your insurance company. A minor accident can result in major headaches (both literal and figurative), and a lawyer can help you take care of all the details. However, if you have the majority of the fault for the accident, there may not be any compensation and you might have to pay the lawyer fees out of your own pocket.
You may not want to get a lawyer if:
- You have no injuries
- You are 100% at fault
- You are experienced with insurance claims
- You aren’t interested in financial compensation
However, as you can see from that list, it’s probably rare that you would fit any of those categories, making a lawyer worthwhile.
Do I Need a Lawyer After Being Rear Ended?
You might. Keep in mind that the full extent of your damages may not be apparent at first—whiplash is one of the most common injuries from being rear ended, and it sometimes takes a few days or even weeks to develop. A lawyer can also help you determine the best course of action, including evaluating if you have a case worth pursuing from a financial perspective.
How To Settle a Car Accident Claim Without a Lawyer
Hiring a car accident lawyer has very few downsides. Attempting to settle a car accident claim without a lawyer can have negative impacts for your life. You may not get the compensation you need to cover long-term effects, and the stress of going through the complicated legal process alone takes a toll in and of itself. While it is certainly possible to settle a claim by yourself, it may not be the best course of action. Typically a car accident lawyer will offer a free consultation, and that can help you figure out if you can go it alone or not.
When Should I Hire a Lawyer After an Accident?
In general, the best time to hire a lawyer after an accident is as soon as possible. The more time that your lawyer has to collect evidence, assess damages, negotiate with other parties, and file the proper paperwork, the better the outcome tends to be for you. However, in Indiana, the car accident statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident. No matter where you are in the process, we can help.
How To Find a Good Car Accident Lawyer
A simple internet search of “best car accident lawyers” or “car accident lawyer near me” will give you plenty of choices in your area, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the right fit for you. There are many personal injury lawyers that have billboards and commercials, but you might just be a number to them and not receive the individualized attention you desire. Here are a few suggestion for finding a good car accident lawyer:
- Look For Experience
When it comes to car accidents, you want a lawyer who has a lot of experience with these types of cases. Look for lawyers with a long history of successful settlements who are knowledgeable about the laws in your state.
- Check For Awards And Recognitions
It’s important to choose a lawyer who has awards or recognition from external organizations. For example, Best Lawyers is a peer review guide that provides lawyer rankings so you can identify a respected attorney. SuperLawyers.com uses independent research, peer nominations, and peer evaluations and recognizes lawyers who are outstanding in their field.
- Ask Your Network For Recommendations
Your family and friends may know someone to use (or stay away from). Another avenue to pursue is if you’ve worked with a different type of lawyer, like a general practitioner or tax law, see if they have a personal injury lawyer they recommend.
Once you’ve found some good options, next comes deciding on which lawyer to select. We’ve got some questions to help you in the next section.
How Do I Choose an Attorney for My Car Accident?
Choosing the right lawyer for you is vitally important. Keep in mind that in addition to these questions, you’ll want to look for a lawyer that is engaged with your case, communicates frequently, and is supportive of your needs. Here are a few questions you can ask to help you select the best car accident lawyer for your situation:
Do you specialize in car accident cases?
Remember that not all personal injury lawyers are equally experienced in all types of cases. You want to make sure that the lawyer you select specializes in injury cases and negligence. Lawyers who specialize in car accidents have the fact-finding skills for building a strong case and the storytelling ability to present your case well.
How have you handled cases like mine before?
Once you’ve established that you are working with an experienced car accident attorney, it’s important to see if they are familiar with the process that applies to you. This will also give you the opportunity to hear how they talk about building cases and what results they’ve been able to achieve in similar situations.
Do you see any challenges in my case?
This is an important question to ask because you need to know if your case has merit. A good lawyer will help you determine the current strengths and weaknesses of your case. They may be able to identify questions that need to be resolved or potential issues, showing you that they can represent you during the stress of a difficult case.
How often do you take cases to trial?
Most injury cases settle before going to court, but with so many variables, there is still a chance your case might go to trial. Hiring a personal injury lawyer with extensive trial experience is important, as you need a skilled lawyer who can fight for you in court.
You Don’t Have To Go It Alone—Broadwing Legal, Here To Help
Car accidents are traumatic events that cause a ripple of impact through your life. Here at Broadwing Legal, we believe that no one should face these challenges alone. We are specifically committed to serving those injured in car accidents and helping them seek justice.
Our attorneys have been representing people injured in car accidents for over a decade. Our expertise, passion, and compassion is on your side, representing you to the full extent of the law. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case. We’ll help you understand your legal options and fight for everything that you deserve.