Getting involved in a car accident is one of the most hands-down stressful experiences you will have in life. Yet there is no way to completely avoid it. Even if you drive with the utmost caution and safety in mind, you can’t be sure your fellow drivers will do the same.
For this reason, most drivers in California will be involved in at least one, and often two or three, accidents during the driving years. Driving in the state of California also requires a special degree of bravery, since our state is one of the strictest in the nation in terms of traffic law.
After you have been in a car accident, you may feel traumatized and anxious. This is the right time to consult with a professional car accident lawyer to decide on next steps. But should you just hire any lawyer for your accident case? How can you pick the right attorney who can help? Read on to find out.
When Do You Need a Car Accident Lawyer?
The first question many drivers have after being involved in a car accident is whether they need to find an attorney to represent them.
The only way to know for sure is to schedule your initial free consultation with West Coast Trial Lawyers to discuss the details of your accident.
However, here are some general guidelines using four different accident scenarios that can help you think through your personal next steps.
Minor fender bender, no injuries.
If your accident involved only minor damage to either vehicle, no one was injured, everyone is sticking to their story, the police report has no errors and all is proceeding amicably towards a claims settlement, then you probably don’t need to hire a car accident lawyer.
Significant accident, no injuries.
When your auto accident results in significant costly damage to one or both vehicles, this is where the claims settlement process can often begin to get complicated.
The main reason is because California uses a fault system to settle insurance claims. The insurance company covering the driver who is deemed “at fault” for the accident will be on the hook for the majority of the expenses.
A driver can be deemed 100 percent at fault or partially at fault. In either case, insurance adjusters will likely contest this designation if their driver is found at fault and this can cause major delays in settling a claim. If this has happened to you, it is a good idea to talk with an auto accident lawyer.
Major accident, includes injuries.
When you have been involved in a major accident where you and/or others have sustained injuries, you always want to talk with a personal injury attorney in Los Angeles before settling with your insurance company.
Frequently, California drivers pay for auto insurance premiums and never receive the full benefits they are entitled to. Insurers are notorious for low-balling settlement offers to try to avoid expensive payouts. This is why you don’t want to leave it to your insurer to “do the right thing” by you. Make sure you have a legal advocate who can negotiate a settlement that is just and fair.
Major accident, includes a fatality.
When the accident you were involved in resulted in a fatality, it is critical not to talk with anyone at all – even the police if you can avoid it – before talking with your personal injury attorney in Los Angeles.
What Type of Lawyer Should You Hire for Your Accident Case?
Now that you have a better understanding of when you should reach out for legal guidance, you probably have questions about how to hire an attorney.
What type of lawyer is the best choice to handle your case? What criteria is important when selecting an auto accident attorney?
Choose a traffic law attorney.
In the same way that you wouldn’t want your family doctor to do your root canal, you don’t want to ask a divorce attorney to handle your car accident case.
Just like medicine, the law is divided into many different branches and then sub-divided into further areas of specialization.
California traffic law is particularly strict and complex, and auto accident attorneys spend their whole career studying just this one branch of law.
So even if you have a friend or colleague who is an excellent attorney in another branch of law, they will not have had the time and daily experience with traffic law to be the best choice to handle your case.
Choose a reputable, licensed and credentialed attorney.
The internet is a wonderful place to go to do your research on any attorney you are considering speaking with. You can find out so much – from where that attorney went to school to when they passed the bar exam to whether they are licensed to practice in the state of California.
You can find out whether past clients were happy with their experience working with an attorney and how the customer service was working with the law firm’s support team. You can learn what percentage of the lawyer’s cases are similar to yours and learn more about recent case outcomes.
By researching independent third-party sites such as Better Business Bureau (BBB), Yelp, Glassdoor and other review sites, visiting the law firm’s social media feeds and looking for recent press reports of case outcomes, you can get a sense of whether the attorney might be the right fit for your case.
Schedule your free consultation to decide for sure.
Even if everything about the attorney and their law firm checks out on paper, the only way to make a final decision is to actually meet the attorney who will be handling your auto accident case.
Do you feel comfortable? Do you think you can trust this attorney to represent you well and push for a positive outcome on your behalf? By scheduling your initial free consultation, you can find out what your case may be worth, what California traffic law says about similar cases like yours and what the next steps to move forward will be.
You can also evaluate the law firm’s customer service and support staff, because you will rely on the whole team to successfully resolve your auto accident issues so you can get back to your regularly scheduled life.
Once you have evaluated all four of these aspects, you can make a decision about which auto accident attorney you want to represent you and handle your claims.
Contact West Coast Trial Lawyers for Help
Have you experienced a car accident and your auto insurance claim is just not resolving the way you expected it to? Are you starting to feel like there isn’t enough of you to go around to get it all done, between filing claims paperwork and following up?
It may be time to bring in expert legal assistance to help you navigate your claims settlement process and get back to your life.
If you have been in a car accident and don’t know how to protect yourself, contact West Coast Trial Lawyers for additional information.