If you’ve recently suffered injuries in a car accident, you have the right to seek damages from another driver or other party if they caused the accident that led to your injuries. Dealing with insurance companies is, at the very least, frustrating for many car accident victims, who need to focus on healing instead of the bothersome claims process. Further, insurance companies do whatever they can to avoid paying a claim or reduce the amount they need to pay.
Hiring a car accident lawyer is the best way to combat auto insurance company tactics. If you seek legal representation, your first question is likely “How do I find good car accident lawyers near me?” It’s convenient to have a lawyer nearby, but you need to assess lawyers to find the best person to help with your car accident claim and ensure you have the best chances to receive maximum compensation for your car accident injuries.
Below we offer various strategies to help you find the best car accident lawyers near you, so you avoid picking a random name from an internet search. After narrowing your search, you can meet with a car accident lawyer for a free case evaluation to discuss your accident and injuries. This initial consultation also gives you the opportunity to ask questions of a prospective lawyer, learn about them, and ensure they are a good fit for you.
Ask for Referrals from Your Networks
Unfortunately, car crashes happen far too often, resulting in injuries and fatalities. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 30,000 people die, and over 2,000,000 people suffer injuries in traffic accidents each year.
One or more family members, friends, or work colleagues were probably in a car accident and suffered injuries due to negligence. Ask the people you trust and respect in your personal and professional networks to find out if they can refer a car accident attorney to help you with your claim.
You can also reach out to people you already give your business, including attorneys in other areas. For example, you can ask your accountant, dentist, tax attorney, divorce lawyer, or estate attorney for a referral. Professionals, especially other lawyers, will not damage their reputation by giving you the name of a mediocre lawyer. A referral doesn’t automatically mean you should hire an attorney, but getting some names gives you a start for finding a good attorney near you.
Read Multiple Online Reviews
Many law firms post client testimonials on their website. These inspire confidence when investigating car accident lawyers that live near you. However, law firms will not post negative reviews. Google reviews can hopefully showcase a more accurate representation of how the firm handles cases.
Find objective sources to narrow down your search. You can find attorneys by name, location, legal topic, and practice area when you search on avvo.com, a trusted nationwide directory of lawyers. They give each lawyer a professional excellence score between 1 and 10 and include client reviews with comments that rate lawyers from one to five stars.
Each lawyer’s profile also includes information about their status with the state they practice, experience, and whether they faced negative consequences from the state licensing body. As you read online reviews, the information you find can help you narrow down your search for car accident lawyers near you.
Read Online Peer Reviews
Reviewing information about a lawyer provided by the legal community is another great way to find the best car accident lawyers near you. Lawyers will not give a positive review to a shoddy colleague for fear of muddying their own reputation, so you can usually count on peer reviews.
Many peer reviews are confidential, which provides a safe space for colleagues to offer truthful feedback about another lawyer. Positive peer reviews signal professional excellence, so including lawyers near you who have positive online peer reviews often benefits clients.
You can find peer recommendations of avvo.com, but other trusted sites also provide peer reviews:
- Martindale-Hubbell is another online directory of lawyers who practice in the United States. They are also the parent company of avvo.com. Each profile includes peer reviews in addition to biographical and contact information. Those with the best peer reviews have an AV designation on their profiles.
- Best Lawyers in America is an annual award presented to exceptional lawyers. Other attorneys nominate candidates and decide on recipients in a confidential vote. Their annual list includes attorneys from dozens of practice areas. If a car accident lawyer near you has received a Best Lawyer designation, it’s a strong signal of professional excellence.
- Super Lawyers is a list of exceptional lawyers who practice throughout the nation. The list includes attorneys from 70 practice areas and includes the top five percent of practicing lawyers in each state. A combination of peer reviews, research about a lawyer, and information about their firm help with the selection process.
Learn About Accolades
If you need to hire a car accident lawyer near you, research any accolades your top choices have received. The legal community likes to give out honors and awards and sometimes gets accused of naval-gazing. However, accolades signal a positive reputation in the legal community, which means that someone who has received one or more awards is probably a competent lawyer.
Best Lawyers gives out Lawyer of the Year and Law Firm of the Year awards, and other local, state, and national organizations give awards to lawyers who have demonstrated continued professional excellence.
Among the most prestigious awards include the National Law Journal’s Lawyer of the Year, which recognizes one lawyer who has risen above the rest in their practice area, and awards from the American Bar Association.
The absence of awards or honors does not automatically mean a lawyer is incompetent or unsuccessful. However, receiving awards almost always indicates professional excellence that inspires confidence in clients.
Asking the Right Questions During a Free Consultation
Once you narrow your search for car accident lawyers near you, you can take advantage of a free consultation to discuss your case and learn about the next steps. During these meetings, a lawyer will review your car accident claim and evaluate your eligibility for compensation. It’s also best for you to ask questions and interview your potential attorney to make sure they are a good fit.
By the time you meet with a lawyer during a free consultation, you probably have some background information about them, even if only from reviewing a few reputable internet sources. During your meeting, you can ask things about subjects and information you couldn’t locate online, such as a lawyer’s approach to client service, past cases, and specific items related to your car accident claim.
Example questions you can use to interview a car accident lawyer near you during a free consultation include:
- Will you personally handle my case, or will other associates step in?
- When handling my case, which other staff members will I need to communicate with?
- Do you respond to emails, phone calls, and/or texts quickly to answer questions and deal with my concerns?
- When can I expect updates about my car accident claim?
- Can you tell me about one or more past cases similar to mine and how they turned out?
- What are some past car accident injury settlements and jury awards you’ve secured for your clients?
- How big is your current workload, and what does your typical workload look like?
- How many past clients have you represented?
- What strategies will you use to help me win my case?
- What obstacles and challenges do you see with my car accident claim?
Other key areas you should learn about include:
Experience in the Courtroom
Most car accident injury claims result in a settlement agreement with an insurance company instead of going to court. However, sometimes a lawyer must take a case to trial. Maybe the insurance company refuses to offer fair compensation, heavily disputes the claim, or multiple plaintiffs or defendants make the case especially difficult. If your case must go to trial, you need an experienced car accident lawyer who has the skills to litigate your case and fight for you in front of a judge and jury.
Some car accident lawyers have not developed the skills or have the experience to win a case for their client in court. You need to ask your potential attorney about their record in the courtroom and how many times they have taken a case to trial. You want to know about wins, but you also need to know about losses. Specifically, ask why they did not win a case and what lessons they learned from the loss.
Resources the Firm Has to Help You
Many car accident claims are straightforward—it’s easy for both sides to assign fault and agree, to some extent, on financial liability. However, you can expect the other side to try to reduce their payout even if they are to blame for your car accident injuries.
Other car accident claims can be difficult because of multiple parties, insufficient evidence, troublesome witnesses, and more. Assigning fault, building a solid case, and accurately valuing a car accident injury claim requires thorough investigation. Police reports only provide one person’s account of the accident.
Car accident lawyers near you know where they need to go and what to do to investigate and build a case. They have to gather documents, interview witnesses, consult with experts, and do more tasks to support a claim.
Regardless of how much investigation your case needs, someone has to pay for these services. Some law firms have in-house investigators, and others work with an outside investigator. The best car accident lawyers near you have plenty of financial resources to conduct a complete investigation and do not expect their clients to pay upfront for these services. You need to discuss investigating your car accident and its cost to ensure the firm you hire has the resources to help you.
Payment of Attorney Fees
Another important aspect of hiring a car accident lawyer near you is attorney fees. It’s standard for law firms to offer free consultations to determine if a potential client has a viable claim. If you hire a car accident lawyer after they are willing to accept your case, you should not have to pay a retainer, like you would for a criminal defense attorney or divorce lawyer.
It’s standard among accident injury lawyers to take new clients on a contingent fee basis. Instead of paying attorney fees out-of-pocket, the firm deducts a percentage of any compensation you receive from a settlement agreement or court-awarded damages. If they do not win your case, it’s unlikely you will have to pay attorney fees.
If a car accident lawyer refuses to discuss attorney fees, consider other options.
Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer Near You
After you’ve done your research and met with a potential lawyer, you are finally ready to answer the question, “Which car accident lawyer near me should I hire?” Serious car accident injuries come with medical expenses, lost wages, and other financial consequences on top of the physical and emotional trauma of the injuries.
A experienced injury attorney near you can provide:
- Knowledge and skills to apply complicated laws to a claim and give someone the best chance of recovering compensation.
- Signal to auto insurance companies that they should take your claim seriously because you have legal representation.
- Honed negotiation skills that often lead to better financial outcomes for clients.
- Ensuring clients meet all time and procedural requirements so they have the best chance of winning their case.
- Access to expert witnesses and specialists who can support a car accident claim.