Going through a car wreck is difficult enough. Dealing with a lawyer shouldn’t be.
If you choose to have a lawyer represent you, you’ll want somebody who will fight for you — and fight for the justice you deserve.
In big cities like Chicago, there are so many advertisements and online listings for attorneys. You’ll want someone with specific experience in car wreck cases like yours.
Here are some tips to help you begin your search.
1. Ask around for referrals.
As with anything, it’s good to get recommendations from a circle of friends you trust. Even if they’ve used a different type of attorney, their attorney can connect you to a good car accident lawyer.
After you’ve gotten a couple of names, check out each lawyer’s website. Read testimony from past clients on independent sites. Make a point to read about the law firm’s specialty, and if it’s pertinent to your case. At the same time…
2. Make sure the lawyer has experience in your state.
Your attorney should have a rich and successful history with cases like yours. And even though most cases settle, your car accident lawyer should be ready to go to trial.
But because car accident law varies state by state, your lawyer’s experience in your own region is also important.
Illinois is an “at-fault” state. In Chicago, you can seek damages directly from the defendant’s insurance — as long as the defendant’s liability is proven. This is not the case in every state.
Chicago also uses modified comparative negligence law. This means that if you’re partially responsible for an accident, your damage award will be proportionally smaller.
Your lawyer should be versed with the nuance of Chicago’s motor vehicle laws and ready to defend you.
But familiarity with an area helps in other ways, too.
An attorney in Chicago might even be familiar with the exact intersection your accident occurred. The law firm can even use aerial maps and video reconstruction tools to replicate the events of an accident.
With thorough knowledge of an area, your lawyer can better anticipate the issues you’ll face moving forward.
3. Determine whether or not the lawyer seems organized.
You’ve probably noticed that car accident cases require a lot of paperwork.
Sometimes obtaining certain reports can be difficult. Busy places like hospitals, for example, don’t always get back to patients quickly.
A good lawyer will maintain contact with the hospital until the appropriate medical report is procured. It’s a crucial piece of evidence.
Disorganized paperwork and missed phone calls are a bad sign.
If a lawyer seems disorganized at your first case evaluation, how can you trust that your case will be in good hands later?
4. Talk about money.
Ask the lawyer what their contingency fee is — the percentage of your settlement they’ll receive, if you win. Usually, it’s around 33%.
You should also discuss who will foot the bill in the case of loss. Many law firms will pay case-related costs out of their own pockets, but not all.
Finally, discuss your settlement strategy with your lawyer. Would you prefer a lower payout and a shorter case, or do you want to fight longer for the highest payout possible?
Tell your lawyer how you’d like to proceed, and make sure they consider your opinion.
5. During your free consultation, trust your first impression.
Call the law firm instead of filling out the online form. Immediately, you’ll get a sense of how the firm operates.
If your call is left waiting or the secretary sounds disinterested, that’s a bad sign.
Finally, make sure you feel comfortable dealing with the lawyer. You’ll be sharing personal details, and you want to make sure you can trust them.
With all that in mind…
Recovering from the shock of a car accident is hard, but a good lawyer can take some of the stress off your back.
Your attorney will do everything possible to put together the strongest case, and secure you the damage award you deserve.
So, even though it can be a bit of work, make sure you find a lawyer with whom you feel 100% comfortable. In the long run, having someone you can fully trust is worth it.