Car accident litigation can quickly turn complicated and difficult. To protect your rights, you should get a car accident lawyer who has specific knowledge of this area of the law and experience representing accident victims. To find the right lawyer, look for these four key things.
Four Things to Look for When Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer
A Good Reputation
It all starts with reputation. A lawyer may technically have taken lots of cases related to car accidents, but that means little unless you know what that means. Have they been successful in most of these cases? Have they treated their clients with respect and professionalism? A lawyer’s reputation in these areas can tell you a lot.
Likewise, a lawyer may have very detailed knowledge of the law and yet not have the skill to put that knowledge to good use. This reality holds true in many fields: there are, for instance, lots of scientists who are enormously knowledgable and yet have no skills for teaching their knowledge to others. You would put one of these scientists in a lab, but never in a classroom. In the same way, a lawyer’s reputation and track record will tell you a lot about their actual skill in negotiations and in the courtroom.
How to Check on Reputation
The first stop is a lawyer’s website. Is it clean, clear, and well-designed? If not, you have to wonder what else the lawyer isn’t being careful about. Next, look on the website for case histories and testimonials. A good attorney with plenty of experience and skill will have some and will be proud to tell you about their successes.
After that, look at the state bar association website to see if they are a lawyer in good standing. if there have been a lot of complaints lodged against the lawyer, that should show up in an online search, too. Just remember to read complaints carefully. A shady lawyer may not be above paying people to leave them five-star reviews. At the same time, vengeful clients are not above leaving undeserved one-star reviews because they had unrealistic expectations or because a lawyer wouldn’t take their case. Look for reviews that have dispassionate, detailed information: those are the real ones.
The reputation tells you a lot, but it’s also important that your lawyer be very conversant in the specific laws of Kansas City and Missouri. Every state is different, and some things can even vary from place to place in one state, so a local lawyer is always best. This legal knowledge is key because car accident cases can easily become complicated by a seemingly simple thing.
For example, were any of the vehicles involved rentals? Were there more than two cars and drivers involved? Were there any contributing factors other than driver negligence, like unclear road markings, faulty traffic signals, manufacturing defects in one of the vehicles, or a component on a vehicle that failed due to poor maintenance?
You need a car accident attorney in Kansas City who can navigate all the complications and help you build a case that gets you the compensation you need as quickly as possible. A lawyer with knowledge of the local area and its laws won’t waste any of your time playing catch up.
Good Communication and Negotiation Skills
There are two reasons to assess your lawyer’s communication skills. The first is because you want to know whether they’ll communicate well with you. Your lawyer should be able to answer your questions in a manner you can clearly understand, which means taking complicated legal terms and ideas and putting them in laymen’s terms, accurately. You’ll find out a lot about this in your initial meeting.
The second reason your lawyer’s communication skills are so important is that most car accident cases never go to court. Instead, they are settled out of court, in negotiations between your lawyer and the insurance company. Insurance companies have a lot of money to hire lawyers, a lot of incentive not to pay, and a lot of experience dealing with these types of cases. You need some assurance that your attorney isn’t out of his league and will be able to get you the settlement you deserve.
A Clear Fee Structure
Your attorney, like all professionals, deserves compensation for his or her skill, hard-earned expertise, and time. But you deserve to know in advance what that looks like, and you deserve to have it all explained to you upfront. There should not be any room for sneaky hidden charges or last-minute surprises. Some lawyers will charge by the hour, but for personal injury, it’s also common for law firms to charge a contingency rate. This means the firm is only paid if you are paid, and they take a percentage of your winnings.
Either way, the important thing is that you understand in advance what you’ll need to pay and when. An experienced attorney with a good reputation will always be clear and honest about their fee structure.
To find the right attorney for you, look at a lawyer’s reputation, consider how well they communicate, make sure to hire someone with local knowledge, and look for a clear, transparent fee structure.
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