When you have been in an auto accident, your life changes immediately. You don’t have time to catch your breath. All the things that were first on your to-do list suddenly get moved to make room for all the new issues caused by the car accident.
You may feel like you are living your life at a thousand miles per hour yet also moving in slow motion. Tiny little matters drag on and on as you wait on hold with your insurer, the car repair shop, your doctor’s office and the department of motor vehicles.
How will you ever get your accident resolved so you can get on with your life? It is at this point that we often get a call from a new client seeking an experienced auto injury attorney to help them.
How should you go about selecting lawyers for an accident claim? Are there certain things to look for and things you should avoid? Read on to learn our top tips to select the most experienced Los Angeles car accident attorney to handle your case.
Check the Attorney’s Education and Credentials
The very first step to take as you are researching which experienced personal injury lawyer to contact is to examine the attorney’s education and credentials.
First, you want to verify that they have the right educational background and have obtained their law degree. Next, you want to verify they have passed the California State Bar Exam and are licensed to practice law in the state of California.
Once you know for sure that the attorney is qualified and legally permitted to represent clients in California, it is time to move on to the next step.
Verify Specialization and Current/Recent Past Case History
The next step is to learn more about what the attorney’s area(s) of legal expertise are in.
For example, some attorneys may have a general practice where they take a wide variety of case types, everything from divorce to settling bankruptcies.
Other attorneys may specialize in just one area of law, such as tax law, real estate law or immigration law.
Some attorneys choose to specialize in traffic law and practice as an auto injury attorney. This is the type of specialization you want when you have been involved in an auto accident.
Just as you wouldn’t expect an attorney that primarily practices immigration law to know the intricacies of California traffic law, so too you would not want to hire that attorney to resolve your case – even if they were willing!
Once you have identified an attorney with the appropriate area of specialization for your issue, you need to gather some more information.
Review the Attorney Website and Independent Review Sites
Most law firm websites today will proudly display a selection of their very best and most glowing past client reviews. These are great to read, but often they don’t convey the full story.
For your own peace of mind and for the potential success of your case, you also want to do your own independent online search to see what comes up. You can visit independent third-party review sites like Yelp and Glassdoor. You can visit the law firm’s social media feeds to see what followers have to say.
If the law firm is a member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), you can also visit that site to view any open or closed complaints and the resolution history. If you still have questions about information you find online about that attorney, contacting the State Bar of California can often help to resolve them.
Evaluate the Law Firm’s Level of Customer Service
Any successful personal injury lawyer in California will always be somewhat busy helping clients resolve cases. But they shouldn’t be too busy to talk with you and their support staff certainly shouldn’t be either!
Once you have developed your short list of three or four law firms that seem to fit the criteria to help you with your auto accident case, it is time to make it personal by setting up your initial consultation.
By the way, this should always be free of charge. Never contact any law firm that requires you to pay for your first consultation appointment! No law firm worth your time will take on your case without first hearing the details and determining there is something tangible they can do to help you.
When you call or email to set up your personal consultation to review your case, consider whether your call is answered promptly and politely and whether you are able to get in to see the attorney you wish to speak with right away.
If you have to wait more than a day or two for an appointment, this is not a good sign of things to come. You will need to be able to reach your attorney once your case begins so you want to choose someone accessible, even after hours.
Also evaluate how promptly you receive any paperwork or documents you need to review or complete in advance and how well staff respond to any questions you have. On the day of your consultation, evaluate whether you are greeted politely and professionally and whether your appointment starts on time. All of these details can help you determine whether you have found the right law firm to meet your needs.
Decide If You Feel Comfortable With the Auto Injury Attorney
Your Los Angeles car accident attorney is going to sit in the hot seat on your behalf until your car accident case is successfully resolved. In other words, your attorney will be your advocate and champion to resolve your case.
For this reason and many other reasons, you want to feel like you can trust them to represent your interests fairly and accurately. You want to feel like you will be able to share openly and honestly without feeling like you are being judged (or worse, condemned).
While all of the other tips shared here about how to choose an experienced personal injury lawyer are intellectual steps, this one often boils down to simple, pure gut instinct. Some people you will have an instant rapport and comfort with and other people you just won’t resonate with. You may not always know why but it is important to trust your gut in either case.
There are lots of great auto accident attorneys practicing in California today, but only one attorney is likely to be the right one for you.
Do You Need an Experienced Los Angeles Car Accident Attorney?
As you now know, California is a “fault” state when it comes to settling auto accident insurance claims and payouts. This makes California one of the toughest states in the nation for settling auto accident claims. Auto insurance companies know they have thousands at stake with every claim, so they hire the best legal teams to defend their interests – not yours.
If you have run into problems getting your car accident case resolved, we may be able to help. Your first consultation is always free. Give us a call now to get started.