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You need time to rest and recover after an accident. The days following such a traumatic event will be difficult. During that time, you should focus on yourself—that is, on recovering your health. It is not the time to make any major decisions about legal action against the person who caused the collision.
As your recovery takes root and you begin to think and speak clearly again, you should start a discussion about the causes of the accident, the injuries you sustained, and the compensation you may be owed. These conversations may be hard, but they are necessary. The medical care and treatment you require costs money, and the hospital in which you are being treated will not be put off indefinitely. At some point, the financial consequences of the accident will need to be dealt with. And it is for this reason that you should speak to an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Can You Use Any Lawyer?
No. The attorney you speak to should specialize in car accident cases. If, for example, an attorney who does not handle such cases is recommended by a friend or family member, you should turn them down. In fact, any such lawyer should be honest and ethical enough to realize that they are not qualified to handle your case and should instead refer you to a car accident attorney in Los Angeles or help you find one. The latter option may be helpful. Even if the lawyer you initially speak to is not qualified to handle your case, they will know what to look for in a lawyer who is qualified to take it on.
Finding the Right Lawyer
Finding the right attorney to take your case is a process, and it is one that should not be rushed. Nothing less than your future is at stake. If you have been in a car accident that was caused by the other driver, the law states that you can claim damages in the form of compensation. The compensation you receive will most likely come from the driver’s insurance company. And this will require a fight. Insurance companies do not pay what they owe easily. In most instances, they need to be pressured and compelled through various legal means to pay claimants the money they owe them.
That is why you must enlist the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer. Some of the things you want to know about the attorney you choose include:
1. Bar membership
Unfortunately, you cannot take it for granted that every attorney advertising their services is a member of the California Bar. This is a requirement to practice law in the state. And there have been recent incidents involving people who have taken on clients, filed legal briefs, negotiated with other lawyers, and argued in court rooms without a law license.
You can confirm Bar membership by speaking to the county or state Bar association.
While you are confirming your prospective lawyer’s law license you should also verify their standing in the Bar. Lawyers who have been reprimanded for unethical behavior or had their license suspended—meaning they were unable to practice law for a certain amount of time—can add unnecessary complication to your case.
A lawyer who has acted unethically or engaged in other bad conduct will have a reputation. They will be known by the lawyers representing the insurance company you’re going up against and the judge presiding over your case. This can make it harder for them to do their best for you, which is why you should avoid hiring such lawyers.
Experience counts in personal injury law. A lawyer who has extensive experience handling cases like yours will possess the expertise to get the best outcome. A car accident attorney in Los Angeles will have dealt with insurance company lawyers before. They will have insight into the methods, tactics, and ploys they will use to stall, diminish, and discredit your claim. They will also know the most effective counter action to them.
An experienced attorney will also have formed strong ties to the larger legal community in which they work. This is not a minor thing. A lawyer who knows all the judges who will preside over the case will also know how to argue before them to get motions approved. This will be important if your case goes to trial, as every civil case begins with a series of legal motions that shape and define how it will proceed.
An experienced attorney will also have formed relationships with other lawyers and law firms. This can be helpful when an issue or problem arises that your lawyer knows little about. They can consult with lawyers who do and count on them to get the right solutions.
The win record of your attorney is only one metric to look at. The most important number to look at is the total amount of money they have won for various clients over the years. Most car accident injury cases are settled out of court. This saves both parties a great deal of cost and hassle. In the end, the goal of your attorney is to get you enough money to service your medical bills and make up for the wages you’ve lost. This should be done in the most efficient and effective manner.
The effectiveness of a lawyer is best measured by their proven ability to compel a high settlement out of court. In fact, you should assume that the more cases your lawyer has had to take to trial the less skilful they are in negotiating. A lawyer who has a poor trial win rate is fine, as long as they have had to take very few cases to trial, and they have an impressive record of getting high settlement offers.
5. Legal fees and expenses
You need to know upfront whether your lawyer works on a no win, no fee basis. Many lawyers will accept no fee unless they win. Attorneys who work on such contingency usually choose cases they know they can win. If they have decided to take yours, it means they are confident they can get a pretty high settlement.
If your attorney expects to be paid no matter what, then it is important to know how it is to be done. Lawyers tend to be realistic about such matters. They know that your accident has put you in serious financial trouble and that they are unlikely to receive any money unless they force a settlement of some kind out of the insurance company. In such cases, the lawyer is likely to work the case until this aim is achieved.
In any case, you should know the lawyer’s billing rate. You should also request a breakdown of expenses for administration, private investigation, and other services required to pursue your case.
West Coast Trial Lawyers come in many forms. If you are the victim of a car accident, then you need an attorney who has worked with many others in your situation. This is the only way to get the experience, competence, and legal skill you require to get a desperately needed settlement. Making an initial call to various West Coast Trial Lawyers doesn’t commit you to anything. It is only a start to find the lawyer that is best for you.