Choosing an Automobile Accident Attorney
Legally Reviewed and Edited by: Terry Cochran
It only takes a moment for a car accident to change your life forever. A severe collision could leave you swamped with medical bills and unable to work. Michigan’s status as a no-fault state may lead some people to believe they have no legal recourse after a crash, but this is not the case. After a serious car accident, you can pursue compensation from the driver responsible.
Tips for Choosing an Automobile Accident Attorney
Hiring an attorney can be a challenging experience, especially if you’ve never filed a legal claim. All lawyers have different personalities and legal strategies. A lawyer with excellent online reviews may not be the right lawyer to represent you. You’ll need to consult multiple attorneys to determine who is the best fit for your claim.
The right lawyer for you depends on the facts of your case and your personal circumstances. When considering attorneys, there are a few key things to consider before choosing the one for you.
Ask About Fees
Ask a potential attorney about their rates and fees during your free consultation. Legal cases can last months or years, and if you can’t afford your attorney, you may have to change representation during your claim or risk not having the funds to pursue your claim. Some attorneys charge hourly rates, while others work on contingency.
When an attorney works on contingency, they don’t require ongoing payment; instead, they agree to take a portion of your settlement as payment if your case is successful. Under Michigan’s court rules, contingency fees cannot be more than one-third of your settlement. Lawyers who charge hourly do not have any limitations on their fees.
Many law firms, including Cochran, Kroll & Associates, take car accident cases on contingency to avoid weighing you down in debt when you are already under intense financial strain. Any attorney you contact should be upfront about their fees. If they aren’t, they probably aren’t a good fit.
Look for Lawyers with a Clean Disciplinary Record
Lawyers who fail to adhere to legal ethics are disciplined by their state bar. But regardless of where the lawyer practices, the American Bar Association requires that attorney disciplinary records be made public. The State Bar of Michigan provides an attorney search allowing you to check a lawyer’s license to practice and disciplinary history.
You can search for a lawyer or law firm by name, legal field, or location. The website will display a list of relevant profiles containing information on whether the lawyer is currently licensed or has been disciplined by the bar. For example, Cochran, Kroll & Associates, senior partner Terry L. Cochran’s profile displays “Active Member in Good Standing,” indicating a current law license with no disciplinary action.
Look for Past Experience with Similar Cases
While many attorneys have handled car accident claims, some cases are more nuanced and require an attorney with relevant knowledge or experience. This can help you earn a higher settlement.
For example, an attorney who has handled truck accident claims is more familiar with the laws surrounding commercial vehicle accidents and the damages and challenges you would face after the accident. They can use that knowledge to argue how your injuries have affected and will continue to affect your life in ways that a typical car accident wouldn’t.
If you’ve been seriously injured in a car accident in Michigan, you may feel most comfortable with Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. Our law firm is familiar with handling various motor vehicle accident claims. In addition, attorney Eileen Kroll has previously worked in the medical field and is familiar with common injuries and prognoses resulting from these accidents.
Inquire About Your Attorney’s Strategy
Every attorney has different tactics when negotiating a claim. Some have aggressive strategies, pursuing all possible damages and obtaining the highest payout possible. Others focus on sorting out your case’s legal aspects and helping you reach a resolution as quickly as possible.
Depending on the circumstances of your claim, you may want a lawyer with a more or less aggressive strategy. For instance, you might pick a more strategic lawyer for a crash that occurred out of state than while might want a more aggressive lawyer for an accident involving drunk or distracted driving.
Learn How and How Often They Communicate
When you reach out to an attorney, keep track of how long it takes them to reply. Most attorneys should respond within one to two business days. At best, long response times can be frustrating; at worst, they can cause problems communicating with your lawyer, leading to subsequent problems or delays with your claim.
Remember that you will likely hear from your attorney’s paralegals more often than your attorney themselves. If you’d prefer to communicate directly with your attorney, ask the attorney what their communication style is to determine what you’ll be dealing with in the future and decide if that is the best option for you.
Look for Clear and Honest Communication
Legal claims are expensive, time-consuming, and complicated. Additionally, Michigan is a no-fault insurance state, which makes it significantly harder to file a lawsuit for non-economic damages. A good attorney will honestly tell you whether they believe you have a valid claim, as they don’t want to waste your time or money on a case that won’t succeed.
Additionally, the right attorney wants to ensure you understand the specifics of your case, so they will simplify legal jargon and be willing to explain something you don’t understand. If you find yourself constantly asking your lawyer for clarification or they seem annoyed when you don’t understand something, find another attorney to represent you.
Find a Lawyer You’re Comfortable With
To build a successful case against the other driver, your lawyer will need to know all of the details of the case, with no omissions or lies. If you misrepresent the facts or leave out information, the at-fault driver’s lawyer could catch you and your attorney in a lie, causing you to lose the case.
You will need to be comfortable telling your lawyer the facts, even if you’re worried those facts might make it look like you’re at fault. A skilled attorney will know how to argue in your favor even if you hold some responsibility for the accident. If you aren’t comfortable disclosing something to an attorney, they aren’t the right one for you.
Ask How Much of the Case They Can Handle
In some car accident cases, the attorney handles most of the case on behalf of the victim. In other cases, known as limited-scope representation, the victim may choose to handle certain parts of their claim independently of their attorney to reduce their attorney fees. For example, they may decide to file their claim for no-fault benefits but let the attorney write the demand letter.
Attorneys at Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. are prepared to handle all aspects of your claim, including filing a claim, negotiating with your insurance company, and representing you in court. However, if you want to handle some parts of your claim on your own, ask your attorney if they can provide limited-scope representation.
How Important is Having the Right Attorney?
Selecting the right attorney can make or break your claim. The right lawyer understands the specific details of your damages and knows what settlement amount is fair, which maximizes your chances of getting the highest possible settlement. An attorney that isn’t experienced in cases like yours can result in you earning a lower settlement or even losing your settlement outright.
For instance, you received a traumatic brain injury in a car crash and want to file a claim for pain and suffering against the at-fault driver. An attorney who has worked primarily with wrongful death claims may not know what kind of compensation is fair for your injuries.
They could underemphasize your injuries or file incorrect paperwork leading to the dismissal of your case. An attorney who has worked with car accident victims and understands the impact of brain injuries is much more likely to craft a strong argument in your favor and negotiate an appropriate settlement.
What if I Picked the Wrong Attorney?
If you’ve discovered that your current attorney is a bad fit for your case, you are not obligated to see it through with them. You can change attorneys anytime, and it does not penalize your case.
If you find an attorney or firm that is a better fit than your current lawyer, your new lawyer will send your previous lawyer a stop-work letter, which is a formal letter saying that you’ve changed attorneys and no longer need their service.
Schedule a Consultation with Cochran, Kroll & Associates
If you need a Michigan car accident attorney, consider Cochran, Kroll & Associates, P.C. to represent you in your claim. Our attorneys have extensive experience handling Michigan auto accident claims. We’ll work with you to build a strong claim against the other driver to get you the compensation you deserve.
Our contingency fee basis means we only get paid if we win your case, so there is no financial risk to you to get started. Call our law firm today at 1-866-MICH-LAW and schedule your no-obligation, free case evaluation.
Disclaimer : The information provided is general and not for legal advice. The blogs are not intended to provide legal counsel and no attorney-client relationship is created nor intended.