There’s no denying the fact that a motor vehicle accident of any type can be stressful. Even a fender bender leaves you shaken, and thanking your lucky stars that it wasn’t worse. When you are involved in a serious crash, and you believe someone else’s negligence may be to blame, it’s important to seek legal help.
Choosing the right car accident lawyer can make or break your case. Keep reading to learn how to find an experienced, capable, and compassionate attorney.
What Is Personal Injury Law?
Before we look at what qualities a good car accident lawyer has, it is important to understand the concept of personal injury law. Also called tort law, personal injury law can take many forms. Some of the types include:
- Medical malpractice
- Slip and fall cases
- Dog bites or other animal attacks
- Premises liability
- Product defects
- Motorcycle accidents
- Wrongful death
- Construction accidents
There are many more types of personal injury law. Essentially, you need a personal injury lawyer any time you have been hurt due to the negligence of another party.
A Definition of Negligence
In lay terms, negligence might mean forgetting to feed your goldfish or leaving the carton of milk out on the counter. In the legal world, however, negligence is much more serious.
The Cornell Legal Information Institute defines negligence as “A failure to behave with the level of care that someone of ordinary prudence would have exercised under the same circumstances.” In simpler terms, negligence occurs when someone didn’t do something that others, hypothetically speaking, would have done.
Let’s look at an example. Say that a grocery store employee spills a gallon jug of vegetable oil in the aisle. It would be reasonable for that employee, or one of his coworkers, to mop up the oil. At the very least, they should rope off the area and put up caution signs. If no one at the store takes steps to prevent customers from slipping in the oil, then the store will be considered negligent.
Negligence as It Applies to Car Accidents
Returning to the topic at hand, there are myriad ways an individual can be found negligent while operating a motor vehicle. For example:
- Failing to stop at a stoplight
- Paying more attention to their cell phone than to the road ahead
- Driving with faulty brakes
- Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Failing to maintain a safe distance behind other vehicles
You will notice that all of these forms of negligence are also common reasons that car crashes occur.
In addition, there may be environmental factors that can contribute to an accident. A mechanical issue that renders a car unsafe, a stoplight that was malfunctioning, or even the local municipality’s failure to adequately clear debris from the roadway could all be actionable causes of a car accident.
Securing the Services of an Attorney
It isn’t hard to find a lawyer who will handle your accident claim. In most cities, all you have to do is turn on the radio or look at the billboards. These attorneys tend to advertise heavily. In fact, you may be singing one of their jingles right now.
However, finding an attorney who’s a good fit for you is a little more complex than calling the first firm that comes up in a Google search.
For one thing, personal injury attorneys almost always have specialties. Each area of personal injury law is so complex that no one person, or even one firm, could be expected to handle all types of this broad spectrum of law. So you will often see firms or individual lawyers who specialize in tractor-trailer accidents, dog bites, premises liability cases, and medical malpractice.
You wouldn’t ask an oncologist to treat your broken humerus, even though they likely have the basic knowledge and skills to set a bone. Neither should you ask a lawyer who handles cases of wrongful death due to mesothelioma to take on your car accident claim.
Establish A Solid Working Relationship
Fewer than 5% of tort disputes see the inside of a courtroom. Instead, they are negotiated and end in a settlement. The process of settling a personal injury claim, however, can take a very long time. Therefore it’s important that you select an attorney with whom you can develop a strong working relationship.
In some ways, finding a good attorney is a lot like dating. The lawyer can have all the right credentials on paper, but if the two of you don’t click, you’re in for an even longer and more arduous experience than usual.
Schedule as many complimentary consultations with car accident lawyers as you feel is necessary. Ask lots of questions. Bring all documentation and be prepared to lay out the facts of the accident and its aftermath. That way, the lawyer can decide if you have a case that’s strong enough to take on.
If you have any qualms about a particular attorney, don’t be shy about moving on to the next law firm on your list. Terry Bryant, a car accident lawyer whose website can be seen at https://www.terrybryant.com/houston-car-accident-lawyer/, explains that in order for a case to be successful, both lawyer and client must feel confident that they can work well together in their quest for justice.
Contingency Fees and Car Accident Lawyers
Attorneys who practice tort law do not require payment upfront. Rather, their fees are contingent upon the successful outcome of your case; hence the term “contingency basis.” The attorney will take her share of the damages only if and when you have reached a settlement agreement with the defendant, or won your lawsuit in court.
This means that the lawyer will fight hard on your behalf. An attorney won’t gamble on a weak case, either. If they agree to take you on as a client, you can feel confident that you will prevail.
You may be required to pay court costs and other administrative fees along the way, so be sure to ask about these during your consultation.
The best car accident lawyer will be tough, experienced, up-to-date on all legal precedents and rulings relating to your case, and yet also compassionate. He or she will strive to right the wrongs that have led to your accident and restore to you any damages that you have suffered.
Do you need to fix your old car or purchase a new one after your accident? Spend some time browsing the informative articles that are regularly posted to our blog.