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We all know that car accidents are an unfortunate reality of daily life. Yet no one ever plans to be one of the approximately 4.4 million Americans who are seriously injured in car accidents every year. Nor do most people think about the fact that car accidents are a leading cause of death for people under the age of 55. 

So if you’ve been in a car accident, your life has probably been turned upside down. When that happens, you need a lawyer to help you get your life back on track. And not just any lawyer. 

Here are 8 tips to keep in mind so you know when to hire an attorney after a car accident. 

Tip #1: When to Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident

Unless your car accident caused no injuries and little or no property damage, we strongly recommend that you consult an attorney. There are several reasons for this. For one, even minor fender-benders can result in expensive damage to your property, a pile of medical bills, and even lost wages. Second, an attorney has the legal expertise to serve as your advocate, help you understand your case, and work to maximize your compensation. They will also be familiar with how to persuade judges and juries in your favor. 

Tip #2: Don’t Wait to Get an Attorney

Sometimes people will wait to hire an attorney after a car accident because they’re worried about finances or want to try to figure things out on their own. 

Do not make this mistake. 

Getting a car accident attorney right away helps you preserve your legal options. Most states have a time limit called a statute of limitations that restricts your ability to file a claim after a certain period of time. So if you wait too long, your claim might be thrown out of court even if it is otherwise sound. Getting a lawyer immediately also helps protect you from being low-balled by insurance companies or hassled by any other third parties (like the other side’s attorneys). 

Tip #3: Do Your Research First

Not all attorneys are created equal. 

Some are experienced, while others are just out of law school. Others may have a lot of experience in another area of law, but won’t be very familiar with car accident claims. And some attorneys just have a bad reputation. 

For these reasons and more, it is important to research the attorneys in your area before contacting any of them. Look for attorneys that have outstanding reviews and years (or decades) of experience handling car accidents. Another good idea is to reach out to family and friends and learn about their experiences with local car accident attorneys. And while you can use online reviews, make sure that any reviews (positive or negative) are from verified customers, and not from anonymous sources. 

Tip #4: Consider What Size Law Firm You Are Looking For

Attorneys can either practice on their own or as part of a firm. Law firms range in size from having just a handful of attorneys to having hundreds of attorneys. There are advantages and disadvantages to both small law firms and large law firms. 

Generally, small law firms are likely to give you more personal attention. However, they are sometimes limited in the kinds of cases that they offer and can vary in quality. Larger law firms tend to have legal specialists and the resources to prosecute more complex cases. At the same time, large law firms are more expensive and also more likely to charge an hourly rate as compared to working with you on a contingency basis. 

Tip #5: Prepare for Your Consultations

Make sure you are professional, courteous, and thorough when you consult with an attorney.  No matter what kind of attorney you speak with, they will have questions about your claim.  Be ready to discuss the critical facts of your case and show the attorney any evidence you have. 

Tip #6: Speak with Several Attorneys Before Hiring One

It’s essential to find an attorney that you can trust and be completely honest with. If you are able to get along with your attorney, it will make their representation smoother and more effective.

Occasionally, an unsavory attorney might try to pressure you into hiring them before you consult with other potential firms. Avoid this kind of attorney at all costs. Also, make sure that you don’t sign any documents during a consultation unless you fully understand and agree to them. 

Tip #7: Ask the Right Questions

Before you hire any car accident lawyer, you need to ask several critical questions:

  • What are the various potential outcomes for your case?
  • Does the lawyer prefer to settle your kind of case or litigate in court?
  • How long will it take to resolve your case?
  • Does the attorney charge on an hourly basis, or on a contingency basis?
  • How much does the attorney charge?
  • How will the lawyer communicate the progress of your case with you?
  • How long has the attorney been handling car accident claims?

By asking these questions, you’ll quickly get a sense of whether the attorney is right for you. 

Tip #8: Set Boundaries

When you hire a car accident lawyer, it’s important to explain your expectations. Even the most skilled attorney won’t be able to guess how much you expect to receive from your case. Therefore, it’s best to discuss the following issues with your attorney:

  • Your ideal outcome for the case;
  • The minimum amount you are willing to settle your case for;
  • The worst possible outcome of your case; and
  • The potential disruptions to your life because of the lawsuit. 

By having these conversations, you can hopefully get a realistic sense of how your case will unfold. 

Why Should I Choose Gerling Law?

Gerling Law is not just any law firm. Our experienced car accident lawyers know how difficult it is to put the pieces of your life together after a car accident. Unlike many other attorneys, we have decades of experience getting fantastic results for your clients. As our client testimonials show, we’ll work with you to thoroughly investigate your case and ensure that you’re treated as a person rather than just a number. On top of that, we’ll draw upon our extensive experience to help you get the compensation you deserve in your case. 

Finally, we won’t bill you for any legal fees unless we win your case. Initial consultations are always free, so you have nothing to lose by reaching out. Contact us today.

Author Photo

Gayle Gerling Pettinga

Born and raised in Evansville, Gayle is a respected, experienced lawyer and a valued community leader. She graduated near the top of her class at Indiana University’s prestigious Maurer School of Law. She’s practiced law with one of the largest firms in Indianapolis as well as one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world. And that means she knows how big law firms and big companies think and how they operate – and she will put that knowledge to work for you.

Gayle has received numerous awards and honors including Martindale-Hubbell — Peer Review Rated: AV®, American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys 10 Best Attorneys in Indiana for Exceptional and Outstanding Client Service, and YWCA Evansville 100 Years, 100 Women Honoree, 2011.

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