When you or someone you know is injured in a car accident, you will need to make a lot of decisions quickly. Getting information from the other driver, recording details from the scene, filing a police report, getting medical treatment, and filing an insurance claim is only the beginning of the long road to recovery.
To get the financial support and medical treatment you need, it may be in your best interest to hire a car accident lawyer. However, the process of finding the right lawyer for your unique case can be overwhelming. We are here to help you understand the kind of information you need to get from an initial consultation to choose a lawyer who will recover the compensation you deserve.
9 Questions to Ask a Car Accident Lawyer at a Consultation
A car accident lawyer can help manage the claims process, gather evidence, build a convincing case, negotiate with insurance companies, and fight for your right to compensation in court. But how do you find the right lawyer to handle your personal injury case? Here are nine key questions to ask before hiring a car accident lawyer.
How long have you practiced personal injury law?
Personal injury laws are very complex and cover a range of physical and psychological injuries caused by the negligence of another person, company, government agency, or entity. These laws also vary from province to province. To ensure you get the best resolution for your case, the lawyer you are discussing your car accident claim with should have a history of practicing personal injury law in your province.
Do you specialize in car accidents?
Not all attorneys who practice personal injury law specialize in car accidents. Most firms provide legal services for a range of personal injury claims, such as slip and falls, long term disability, medical malpractice, product liability, and wrongful death. When meeting with a car accident lawyer, make sure they have experience navigating motor vehicle laws and insurance regulations to properly handle your claim and recover the compensation you are owed.
How many auto accident injury lawsuits do you settle each year? How many cases go to trial?
A lawyer who rarely goes to trial may be more inclined to accept a settlement offer that is significantly lower than the payout you could receive in court. However, there is a certain level of risk to both parties involved in a car accident trial. Defendants and insurance companies typically want to avoid the risk of potentially paying more than the initial evaluation of the losses or damages. The personal injury lawyer may want to avoid placing the additional stress of a trial or delayed compensation on their client trying to recover from their injuries.
While it is important for your car accident lawyer to have litigation experience, it is arguably more important that they understand how insurance companies assess the risk of going to trial. Motor vehicle injury claims are as much about negotiating as they are about litigating in court. Whether your case is resolved in or out of the courtroom, an experienced personal injury lawyer can significantly improve your chances of receiving fair compensation for your injuries.
How are your legal fees structured?
Car accident lawyers typically structure their fees in one of three ways: hourly, flat fee, or contingency. Flat fees are typically used in relatively simple cases but generally are not suitable when the amount of work required is uncertain. Hourly rates are the most common attorney fee arrangement, which could quickly become expensive, especially if your injuries require medical treatment or resulted in lost wages.
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means that you will not be charged a fee until your case settles or you win a judgment in court. Since the attorney will only get paid after you receive compensation, they have an incentive to negotiate the best possible settlement.
What if my injuries require long-term medical treatment?
For some people, treatment for car accident injuries may be ongoing or require a lifetime of medical support. This could include rehabilitation, reconstructive surgery, or in-home aides. Your lawyer will estimate the costs for future treatment to include in your claim. To do this, lawyers often rely on medical experts familiar with the type of treatment your injury requires and how much this will cost. In some cases, these medical experts will testify for your case in court. Expert testimony can help ensure that you have sufficient evidence to support the claims for future medical expenses.
What kind of damages can I claim?
Under Nova Scotia law, there are two ways to claim compensation for damages sustained in a car accident. First, you can claim no-fault accident benefits under Section B of your insurance policy. Second, if someone else was at fault for the car accident causing your injuries, you can make a personal injury claim, and if necessary file a personal injury lawsuit.
All insured drivers in Nova Scotia are entitled to the no-fault benefits under Section B, regardless of who is at-fault for the accident. This section of your auto insurance policy provides coverage for income loss, medical bills, housekeeping expenses, funeral costs, and death benefits. When pursuing legal action against the person responsible for causing your injuries, some of the most common claims for damages are pain and suffering, lost wages, medical treatment and rehabilitation, and loss of future earnings.
How likely is it that my case will go to trial?
Most car accident claims are resolved without going to trial. In fact, less than 1% of personal injury claims in Nova Scotia go to court. A trial can be stressful, expensive, and risky for all parties involved. Usually, the first stage of a personal injury claim is negotiating a settlement directly with the insurance company. If there is a dispute over who is at fault or the insurance provider thinks you are asking for more compensation than needed, this may cause your claim to go to court.
What do I say to my insurance company?
When you are involved in a car accident, be sure to collect as much information as you can from the scene and the other driver. Some of the basic information your insurance provider will request is your policy number, vehicle registration information, details about the accident, insurance information from the other driver, and any resulting injuries and property damage caused by the collision.
If you receive calls from the other driver’s insurance company, you are under no legal obligation to speak to them. It is recommended that you have your insurance claims adjuster or personal injury lawyer handle conversations with the other insurance provider.
How long will it take for my claim to be resolved?
While insurers typically have a goal of settling and paying your claim as quickly as possible, it’s not a hard requirement. The nature of the claim and delays can impact this timeline. Filing an injury claim with an insurance provider usually takes longer to process than filing a claim for vehicle damages. Once you fill out the initial paperwork, the hospital and doctor’s office will typically coordinate directly with your car insurance adjuster.
Timelines are harder to determine when it comes to personal injury lawsuits. Trial proceedings can take years, depending on the complexity of the case and possible delays caused by the courts, medical care, and how cooperative the defendant is. A good attorney will review your case, assess the options, and guide you on the best course of action on whether to accept the insurance company’s offer or move to court.
Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer
At Valent Legal, our car accident lawyers understand car accident injuries can have a permanent impact on your health and well-being. No amount of money will ever make up for your pain and suffering, but it can help you recover and reclaim your life.
You should not have to handle the stress of an injury claim alone. Our car accident lawyers have the experience and expertise to manage your claim, negotiate with insurance companies, and navigate the court system on your behalf to recover the compensation you are owed.
We believe everyone deserves the chance to fight for their rights. That is why we work on a contingency fee basis. You will not pay any legal fees until there is a settlement or the judge rules in your favour in court. Call or text to book your free case evaluation today and get one step closer to getting the compensation needed to make you whole again.