The first thing you need to do after a car accident is to try not to panic. This is much easier said than done, we realize.
Car accidents are very stressful. Whether minor or major, you can count on feeling stressed and even a little panicked in the hours and days after an accident occurs.
This is even more so when you have been injured as a result of a car accident. Now your whole life has changed in the blink of an eye. Suddenly you are facing reams of insurance claims forms, hospital or home time, rehabilitation and mounting medical bills as you wait for the insurance companies to sort out who pays whom.
You may not be able to wait. In this type of situation, and especially in the strict state of California, retaining the services of your own car accident personal injury lawyer is the smart move.
In this post, we show you exactly how to pick the best lawyer to help you resolve your case and get your claims settled quickly.
What to Look For in a Personal Injury Car Accident Lawyer
There are several specific traits you want to be looking for in any personal injury attorney you choose to work with.
We are going to outline each one of these traits in detail now.
1. Verify California state bar licensure.
Any attorney working in the state of California must have passed the California bar exam and received a positive score of 86 or higher. They must also pass a Moral Character Determination exam before they can legally practice.
2. Verify traffic law specialization.
California is a very strict state when it comes to administering traffic law rules and regulations. For starters, California has elected to handle accident claims payouts through a “fault” system.
What does this mean? “Fault” refers to which parties caused an auto accident. Fault can be assigned fully or partially. The insurer(s) for the parties deemed to be at fault must pay out the insurance claims based on the fault percentages assigned.
This means you don’t want a general practice attorney handling your traffic law case or claims settlement. Traffic law in California is just too complex and ever-evolving and it requires full immersion to stay on top of all the changes.
So you want to verify that the majority or entirety of the attorney’s cases are focused on traffic law – auto accidents, motorcycle accidents, ridesharing accidents and similar traffic law-related cases.
3. Verify positive past client reviews.
The next bit of research you want to conduct relates to what other clients have to say about working with that attorney.
You will likely see plenty of positive past client reviews on the legal firm’s own website. It is great to read these, but you also want to search online on your own and see if there is additional information on third party sites such as Yelp, Avvo or Glassdoor.
Look for positive, relatively recent reviews by past clients whose cases were similar to your own. You want to know how successful that attorney (not just the law firm, but the specific attorney) has been at helping clients like you get through the insurance claims process with a favorable outcome.
4. Contact the attorney for an initial consultation.
After you have verified that the attorney can legally practice in California, specializes in traffic law-related cases and claims and has positive recent client testimonials overall, you will be ready to meet the attorney in person (or over the phone if necessary) and decide whether it is a match.
Here, it is important to remember that you aren’t just relying on the car accident personal injury lawyer to resolve your case. You will also be relying on that attorney’s entire legal team, including everyone from the front office receptionist to the paralegal staff to the other attorneys in the firm.
So you want to make sure the staff is as professional, polite and competent as is the attorney you meet with. Notice how quickly the staff returns your calls and how quickly you can get on the attorney’s calendar.
When you arrive for your consultation, notice how comfortable you feel with the office atmosphere, the greeting you receive and the personality of the staff and the attorney you meet with. Are you given everything you need to prepare for your meeting and your case without having to ask for it? Are you seen on time or made to wait?
All of these factors can indicate how and how well the attorney will handle your personal injury car accident case.
Never Pay for Your Initial Legal Consultation
If you are ever asked to pay for your first meeting (called the “initial consultation”) with a traffic law attorney, run – don’t walk – in the opposite direction.
Any attorney worth working with values their time too much to take on clients they know they cannot help. The initial consultation should always be free because it is the time when you can share what happened and the attorney can tell you what, if anything, they can do to help.
This is also why it is important to meet with more than one attorney, so that if the first consultation you have is not a match, you have another one lined up. Just because one attorney says they cannot help doesn’t mean that there is nothing that can be done to expedite your case and get your claims settled.
Get Everything in Writing Up Front
Your attorney should be very clear and up front with you about how the process works. If they are taking your case “pro bono” then they should tell you exactly how they will get paid if the case is resolved successfully in your favor.
If they are working with you on a retainer basis, they should tell you exactly how those funds will be used and accounted for and what services they will afford you.
Always take your time and review everything in writing before retaining an attorney to represent you in a personal injury car accident case. You should never feel pressured but should be encouraged to ask questions and review the documents at your leisure before making up your mind.
When you have found the right Los Angeles accident attorney to represent you, you will know. Trust your head and your gut and you will be able to choose your attorney with confidence.
Do You Need a Los Angeles Accident Attorney?
Here at West Coast Trial Lawyers, we represent auto, motorcycle and ridesharing accident clients every day. Our legal team has the highest level of knowledge and expertise in successfully resolving even the most difficult and complex of traffic law cases and claims.
California is a very strict state when it comes to assigning fault in a traffic accident and processing auto insurance payouts. Often it is necessary to retain your own legal professional to ensure your interests are fairly represented.
If you need a Los Angeles accident attorney, we can help. Contact West Coast Trial Lawyers to schedule your free initial consultation.