Many people are not sure where to begin when it comes to choosing a Knoxville car accident attorney, so they select the first one they see without considering if there may be someone else better suited to handle their case. Choosing the first attorney you hear about is rarely a good idea, since the right lawyer plays a key role in reducing the stress you experience and helping you recover the compensation you deserve after a car accident.
Do some research, ask your friends and neighbors for recommendations, and make a list of possibilities. Then schedule an initial consultation. Tennessee car accident lawyers typically offer this consultation free of charge, and only charge you after you receive a payout in your case. This is known as working on a contingency basis. Before your consultation, make notes, and make sure you are aware of these five questions to ask your car accident lawyer:
- What are your practice areas?
Some lawyers are Jacks of all trades. They practice personal injury, family law, criminal defense, and estate planning. While they will likely have a vast knowledge of various subjects, you want an attorney who focuses on personal injury — especially car accidents. You want someone on your side who knows all the major players, and navigates this process regularly. You might also want to ask:
- How long have you been practicing law? Have you always focused on personal injury?
- How many car accident cases to you handle each year?
- How many of these settle out of court? How many go to trial?
- What resources do you have to help you settle car accident cases?
Our firm focuses on injuries from car accidents so we know how to handle any case that comes our way. We do not dilute our practice with other areas of law so we can put our energy into winning your case.
- Have you handled car accident cases with injuries like mine?
This question is especially important if you suffer from complex injuries or a condition requiring ongoing medical care. While it is fairly simple to calculate the cost of treating a broken leg, it is more difficult to prove soft tissue injuries or anticipate future care needs for a traumatic brain injury. Related questions may include:
- What was the result of the similar cases?
- Can you provide me with references from someone with similar injuries?
- What is your approach to cases with injuries like mine?
- Do you think I have a strong enough case to recover compensation for my losses?
While the initial consultation offers you an opportunity to get to know the lawyer better, it also gives the car accident attorney a chance to evaluate your case. You should not expect to receive any legal advice during this meeting, but that does not mean you cannot ask the attorney how he or she would assess your case.
Consider asking some follow-up questions:
- What factors support us winning my claim?
- Is there anything about my case that would stop me from recovering full compensation?
- Can I still recover compensation even if I believe I was partially at-fault for the accident? Will that affect my compensation?
- Do you believe we can settle this out of court?
- About how long do you think it may take to settle my Tennessee auto accident claim? (No lawyer should promise a quick settlement.)
After assessment, your lawyer should tell you whether s/he thinks you have a valid case. Remember, no good lawyer will ever guarantee a case’s success.
- What is your approach to the settlement negotiation process?
If you are like most people, you would rather avoid going to court. However, you know you need a fair settlement to cover your bills and you have heard that might involve a judge and jury. In most cases, this is not true. However, it is best to know how your car accident lawyer will handle the settlement negotiation process before you begin.
Some attorneys are quick to jump to filing a lawsuit, while others are willing to duke it out through several rounds of negotiations. Some advise clients, while others ask what the client prefers. Knowing how your attorney handles this process is important if the insurance company does not agree to a fair settlement quickly. Related questions include:
- Is mediation or arbitration an option to settle my claim?
- How often do cases you handle require filing a lawsuit? How many actually go to trial?
- Will you be representing me in court if my case goes to trial?
- How will you keep me up-to-date about my Tennessee car accident claim?
Some attorneys are much more hands-on than others, so it is important to find out exactly how often you can expect to hear from your attorney. Some even pass the case to another attorney in the firm after your initial consultation, so it is important to learn exactly who will be updating you about your case and how often. Other questions may include:
- Will any other attorneys work on my case?
- How often can I expect you to update me about my claim? Will I be speaking with you directly or will I be in contact with another lawyer or paralegal?
- What is the best way to contact you? How quickly can I expect to hear back?
- Is there someone I can reach if I have a question while you are in court or out of the office?
Call today to schedule your FREE initial consultation with a Knoxville car accident lawyer.
The Knoxville auto accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Ogle, Elrod & Baril, PLLC are here to help you get the compensation you deserve after a Knoxville car crash. We will be happy to answer any questions you have about the car accident claims process or the steps necessary to turn your wreck into a check. Call our office at 865-546-1111 to schedule your free case evaluation and initial consultation today.