All car accidents are unnerving. They happen instantly and disrupt your day and life. After addressing medical needs and practical issues, such as getting your car towed, you want to address fault and financial compensation. If you were not at fault, you have the right to expect the at-fault driver to cover your losses and expenses.
An experienced car accident attorney can help you to recover your losses. Contacting a lawyer can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some steps you can take to hire and work with a car accident lawyer.
Make Use of a Free Consultation
Find a car accident lawyer near you that offers free consultations. Book an appointment to discuss your case. This will allow you to assess the knowledge level and professionalism of the personal injury attorney and if it is someone you will feel comfortable working with. Ask questions about their experience with car accident cases, fee structures, out-of-pocket expenses, and any other questions you think might be relevant to your car accident case.
Personal Compatibility and Attention
The free consultation is also an opportunity for you to decide if you’re compatible with the attorney. You want someone you can trust as you may be sharing confidential information and someone that you feel comfortable with. You want your car accident attorney to be reliable and knowledgeable about Pennsylvania law. Make sure the attorney you speak with is the one that will be personally handling your car accident claim.
Check out Reviews
Discover what previous clients of the attorney have said about working with that attorney by looking online such as Google. This will give you an indication of how the vehicle accident attorney will handle your case. You can also ask the attorney if they can provide referrals from previous clients they have worked with.
Hire a Car Accident Attorney ASAP
It is easier to gather evidence and build a case if the accident occurred more recently. Give your attorney time to get as much evidence as possible that will support your case by hiring one as soon as possible after the accident. For most personal injury claims in Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations is 2 years. Waiting that long can make it difficult to build your case.
Don’t Assume Your Insurance Company is on Your Side
The Insurance company will protect their interests first. If you’ve been in a serious collision, contact an attorney after filing your insurance claim. Don’t sign any insurance paperwork until you’ve consulted with an attorney. A personal injury lawyer can advise you on dealing with the insurance companies involved in the collision and will put your best interests first.
Amount of Settlement
After your initial consultation, it is unlikely that your car accident attorney will have enough information to conclude how much your settlement will be. Ethically, a lawyer should never promise you a certain amount. Once enough information has been gathered, your lawyer can tell you what value range you can expect for your settlement.
Your vehicle accident lawyer can work with you to get the settlement you want but you should be reasonable with the amount of your claim. A lawyer offers an informed, objective perspective.
Contract of Representation
After your initial consultation, if you and the auto accident attorney decide you will work together, they will present you with a contract of representation. This is an opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have about the agreement. The contract should include information on attorney fees and costs. Read through the contract and if you decide to move forward, sign the contract and advise the attorney.
The Settlement Will Take Time
Legal proceedings take time to go through the court system. Even settlement negotiations can take months or even years to agree on. It will probably take longer than you want it to. Have a conversation with your collision attorney about timeframes and when you can expect updates.
When Not to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney
If you were involved in a minor car accident and there were no injuries, you would not need to hire an attorney. If the claim is only damage to the vehicle, it is a property damage claim. You will likely be able to handle the claim yourself.
Working With a Car Accident Attorney
While the auto accident attorney will handle the legal functions in your case, do your part by being honest, responsive, and prompt. Communicate any information you have, be available to speak or respond to emails, and respond within a reasonable time to any questions your lawyer may have.
Collision attorneys will meet you at a hospital or other location. They understand it might be difficult to get around after an auto collision. Hiring a car accident attorney is similar to hiring a contractor. One difference is that car accident attorneys will also need to accept your case.
Hiring a car accident attorney is not only for when you think your case will go to trial, though a trial lawyer can represent you if that is the outcome. The role of your car accident attorney is to maximize the compensation you will receive for your losses and to help you avoid any costly mistakes in your case. A personal injury attorney will help you to understand and navigate Pennsylvania’s laws.
Working with Jeffrey H. Penneys, Esq.
If you’ve been in a car accident in Pennsylvania and suffered injuries, contact Jeffrey Harlan Penneys at 215-771-0430. He has experience with Pennsylvania injury law, is a trial lawyer if your claim does go to court, and will handle your case personally. Schedule your free consultation today for a case evaluation and to discuss your car accident claim.