If you’ve been injured in an auto accident, you’re likely worried about medical treatment, talking to insurance companies, and getting your car fixed. Most people don’t consider hiring a car accident lawyer until there is a major issue or their situation has become overwhelming. In reality, an experienced car accident attorney can help you with all of these worries.
Auto accident attorneys can make a huge difference in the outcome of your personal injury case, but not all lawyers are created equal.
These seven questions should help you find a qualified car accident attorney and understand the car insurance claims process a little better.
1. “Do you specialize in car accident cases? How many do you handle?”
Just because you have found a personal injury lawyer doesn’t mean that you have found someone who is qualified and experienced in car accident cases.
There are many different types of personal injury law, and each of them requires different methods and techniques. A lawyer who has only had experience with slip & falls probably won’t have the insight to help you win your car accident case.
If they do specialize in auto accidents, verify how many cases they have handled in the last year. No amount of classes or seminars can substitute for real-life experience. All else being equal, you should lean toward the attorney with plenty of car accident cases under their belt.
2. “Should I see a certain doctor?”
If you have been injured in a car accident, you have probably realized that not all doctors are willing to treat you for your car accident injuries.
Some doctors simply don’t accept car insurance benefits as payment. Other doctors may not specialize in “traumatic injuries,” so they are not qualified to treat your car accident injuries.
It is important for you to consult a health care provider/doctor who specializes in car accident type injuries (“traumatic injuries”) and who also accepts car insurance benefits as payment for your medical bills.
If you haven’t yet found a qualified health care provider who can treat you for your car accident injuries, it can be helpful to get recommendations from your car accident lawyer.
An attorney who is experienced in car accident cases should be able to at least recommend several healthcare providers who specialize in car accident injuries, accept car insurance benefits as payment, and who are truly focused on your recovery, NOT on helping the insurance company make money.
3. “How do I pay for medical expenses?”
Let’s be real—no one plans to get into a car accident, and very few people have enough money set aside to cover the (sometimes substantial) expenses resulting from such a traumatic event.
There may very well be car insurance coverage available in your exact scenario to help you pay your medical bills, lost wages, and other losses.
That said, many people are under the (false) assumption that their doctor will send all medical bills to the other party’s insurance. Unfortunately, it is not that simple.
While there are some types of car insurance which may directly pay your healthcare provider’s bills, you will need to (at a minimum) open claims with several insurance companies to get that process started. Hiring a skilled car accident lawyer is crucial to properly opening insurance claims and managing the claim throughout your medical treatment.
Many times, your car accident attorney will be forced to make a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company and fight just to get them to cover your losses.
If you have bills stacking up, ask your auto accident attorney what your options are. He or she should be able to guide you to an appropriate solution.
4. “What happens if I need long-term medical care?”
For some, a car accident is more than a temporary inconvenience.
If you receive serious injuries, your condition could require costly long-term care, including surgery, rehabilitation, or medical equipment. As a result, it can be downright impossible to feel comfortable with a settlement amount if you have no idea how much your injuries will cost you over your lifetime.
If you have been given any indication that your injuries may require long-term care, notify your car accident lawyer as soon as possible. They can use this information to your advantage to ensure you don’t get less than you need.
5. “I’ve been offered a settlement. Should I accept?”
If you’ve been offered a settlement, it can be tempting to take the money and put the entire situation behind you. WARNING: you should never accept any settlement offer without first consulting with a car accident attorney.
Upon accepting a settlement amount, the subject’s car insurance company will require you to sign a “release.” Essentially, signing this release means you can never go back to the insurance company for more money in the future, even if you have new medical bills which you did not expect at the time of the signing.
Only a practiced car accident attorney has the knowledge to be able to advise you on whether or not a settlement offer is a fair one. There are many factors an experienced car accident attorney will consider when determining a fair settlement value.
For example, it would not be wise to settle your claim for an amount which would pay for only your past medical expenses and wage losses. Both past and future losses should be considered.
6. “Should I settle or sue?”
Rejecting a settlement offer doesn’t necessarily mean you should file a lawsuit. However, there are times when pursuing your car accident case through litigation will give you the best chance at getting fairly compensated for your injuries.
Both options have their pros and cons, but the decision of whether to settle or sue is an important one that should be discussed with your car accident lawyer.
While the vast majority of car accident cases end in a settlement (without requiring a formal lawsuit), there may be occasions when your needs are better served inside the courtroom.
7. “What information do you need from me?”
While attorneys do more than most people expect, even the best car accident attorney in the world can’t win cases by themselves.
Find out ahead of time what obligations you have in your car accident case. Knowing exactly what your responsibilities are will keep the wheels turning and give you a better chance of being satisfied with the outcome.
Get On the Road to Recovery
Auto accidents have a way of both upending and overwhelming your life, but getting back on the road to recovery is less stressful with a qualified car accident lawyer on your side.
Once you have chosen a car accident attorney, use these seven questions to get a better understanding of your auto accident case so you know what to expect at every step of the way.
And if you’re still looking for a car accident attorney, we’d love to meet with you to discuss your case. Sunshine State Law Firm specializes in car accident cases, and we can assist both English- and Spanish-speaking clients.
We don’t get paid unless we are able to make a recovery for you, and we will do whatever it takes to ensure you are well-represented.