After a car accident, you may need an attorney on your side. Oregon is a fault accident state, meaning that you may have grounds to pursue an insurance claim or lawsuit against the responsible driver. However, navigating this process can be challenging after a recent injury—but finding the right lawyer to represent your claim can also be difficult. To find the right car accident attorney for your case, it is important to ask a few key questions.
When it comes to car accident cases, personal injury experience is important. Your attorney should know the steps you need to take to file your claim, negotiate for maximum recovery, and secure the compensation you need to recover. To begin the consultation, ask your attorney how long he or she has practiced personal injury law and whether he or she has the appropriate licenses to practice law in Oregon.
Just like you wouldn’t want to hire a podiatrist to perform brain surgery, you don’t want to hire a criminal defense lawyer for a car accident claim. Ensuring that your attorney has relevant experience in your practice area is crucial to finding the right firm.
A car accident lawyer should have experience handling cases similar to yours and be able to provide valuable guidance as you navigate the claims process. Asking your attorney about his or her practice area specializations—and experience handling similar claims—can help you gauge whether he or she would be able to guide you through your case.
After a car accident, you can experience significant financial hardship. Very few people can afford to pay for a lawyer out of pocket in these situations, which is why most personal injury firms operate on a contingency fee basis.
Under this arrangement, the attorney will not charge legal fees if he or she fails to secure compensation on your behalf. If you do receive an award, your lawyer will take an agreed-upon percentage of your final settlement as payment. Before deciding whether to hire a lawyer, ask about his or her fee structure and select a firm that meets your financial needs.
Car accident cases can last for a few months to a few years, depending on the severity and complexity of the accident. A personal injury lawyer should be able to review your case and provide an honest answer as to how long it may take to recover compensation.
With all information about your case available to him or her, the lawyer should be able to determine whether you should go to court or settle in the insurance stage. If your lawyer is not willing to pursue your case to the fullest extent, he or she may not be able to secure the compensation you need to recover. Before hiring a lawyer, ask about the direction he or she sees your case taking.
You can recover many types of compensation in a car accident case—including medical expenses, property repairs and replacement, lost wages, and pain and suffering. A car accident attorney should have the ability to identify the types of damages you are eligible for and calculate the full extent of your potential award.
Your lawyer should fight to recover maximum compensation on your behalf. If an attorney lacks this knowledge or drive, you may not receive the full damages you need to recover from your accident. Ask your attorney about potential damages and allow him or her to explain your optimal path to maximum compensation.
Some firms have one attorney who handles all cases by him or herself. Other firms have case managers, paralegals, and junior attorneys who communicate with clients on the lead attorney’s behalf. If it is important for you to have a lawyer who is very involved in your claim, ask who will be handling your case and who you will be communicating with.
When hiring a personal injury attorney, trust and honesty are key. You do not want to hire a lawyer who isn’t upfront with you about any potential issues with your case. Instead, you want to hire an attorney who is able to identify these issues and develop a strategy to overcome them. At your consultation, ask the lawyer about your case and whether he or she sees any future obstacles.
Keep in mind that while some car accident cases are complex, others are very straightforward. If a potential attorney tells you that he or she does not foresee any issues with your case, ask him or her why. The lawyer may discuss other cases he or she has handled in the past, which will provide you with insight into his or her past experience.
Not all car accident claims end up in the courtroom. In fact, the majority of cases resolve in a settlement, either during the insurance process or in pre-trial negotiations. However, there are certain situations where your attorney should go to trial—if you have very high damages that exceed an insurance company’s policy limits, for example, your attorney should not settle for an insufficient settlement. Instead, your lawyer should be willing to pursue your case to the fullest extent possible so you can obtain the settlement you need to recover.
Ask the attorney about his or her trial history. Your lawyer may explain how often he or she takes cases to trial and the circumstances that factor into this decision. This question will also provide insight into the attorney’s trial preparedness. You want to hire a lawyer who is not only willing to fight for your maximum compensation but has the experience necessary to navigate the litigation process.
After an accident, it is very important to seek the assistance of a Portland car accident lawyer. Hiring a lawyer to represent you in the courtroom and at the negotiating table can provide significant benefits to your case, from access to expert witnesses to negotiation skills.
Once you receive medical treatment for your injuries, research potential firms that may be able to represent your claim. After you identify attorneys to contact, schedule free consultations with these lawyers to discuss your legal options.