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Questions to Ask When Hiring a San Francisco Car Accident Lawyer

The days after a car crash can be very overwhelming, especially if you or a loved one were injured and your vehicle sustained heavy damages. You’re probably rightfully considering hiring an attorney. But that can be confusing, too. This article will walk you through everything you need to know about finding the right San Francisco car accident lawyer for you.

More than just getting the name of a car accident attorney, the secret to finding the very best lawyer for you and your situation is in the questions you ask before you hire one.

Most car accident lawyers in San Francisco are willing to talk with you at a meeting called an initial consultation. This is where you’ll do your research. At an initial consultation you can learn:

  • About the attorney’s background and experience
  • Whether you’ll be likely to receive a good financial result from filing a lawsuit
  • How much the attorney will cost
  • What to expect from the legal process
  • And most importantly, whether this is the attorney you want representing you

After getting the name of a San Francisco car crash attorney or two, call to book the initial consultation. Many attorneys offer these meetings for free, but confirm that when scheduling the appointment.

You’ll want to bring a list of questions that will help you in your hiring decision. This article will offer a number of suggestions. Feel free to pick and choose among them, adding questions of your own where you see fit.

Gather some documents to bring with you. Personal injury lawyers will find it helpful if you bring:

  • A copy of the police report, if you have it
  • Medical records and bills related to the crash-related injuries
  • Repair estimates
  • Any correspondence you have had with insurance companies

Finally, don’t forget to bring some paper and a writing utensil so you can keep track of the answers and note any impressions you may have.

Background & Experience

An easy way to kick off the conversation is to ask about the attorney’s background and experience. Some relevant questions to ask include;

  • From which law school did you graduate? How long ago was that?
  • How long have you been practicing law in San Francisco? How long have you been a car accident attorney?
  • Do you accept other kinds of cases? If so, which? And how much of your practice is representing car crash victims?
  • How many car accident cases do you take on each year? At any one time?
  • Have you represented many clients with injuries similar to my own? How often?
  • Do you belong to any bar associations or other professional groups? If so, which?
  • How often do you settle cases for your car accident clients? How often do you go to trial?

Assessment of Your Case

The initial consultation is a good opportunity for you to learn about your legal options and how much money a lawsuit might bring you. To touch on this topic, ask:

  • What is your assessment of my case? What’s the best strategy for me?
  • How much money could it be worth to me?
  • Which elements of my case work to my favor? Which may be an obstacle to a smooth resolution?
  • How likely is a settlement?
  • Is mediation or arbitration an option for me? If so, how would that work?
  • How long would it be until I saw a financial award?

Case Management

Case management is an important area to explore with attorneys during your initial consultations. Case management refers to how your case is managed on a day-to-day basis. To have realistic expectations, ask questions such as:

  • Do you have the time to take my case?
  • Will other lawyers work on my case? What will they do? Can I meet them?
  • Will you be the one representing me at settlement negotiations or in court? If not, then who will?
  • If I have questions, how do you prefer to be contacted? How quickly can I expect a response?
  • Will I receive regular progress reports? How often?

Legal Fees

Whether they are in Ashbury Heights or Yerba Buena or any other San Francisco neighborhood, most personal injury attorneys – which include car accident attorneys – prefer to bill their clients using a contingency fee. This means they take a percentage of any financial award you receive as their payment.

Other car accident attorneys bill by the hour. They are very different billing arrangements. To get a better handle on them, consider asking:

  • Do you take cases on contingency? If so, what percentage do you charge?
  • If you bill by the hour, how much is your rate? Will I owe a retainer fee? How much would that be?
  • Do I owe you anything if we don’t prevail in my case?
  • What other related, legal fees outside of your time will I have to pay? Can you give me an estimate for them?
  • Can you show me some examples of how much I might make after paying your legal fee and other related fees?

Hiring a San Francisco Car Accident Lawyer

After you have interviewed every San Francisco car accident lawyer on your list, it’s time to choose one. To narrow down the candidates you might find it helpful to ask yourself a few questions, such as:

  • Which attorney had the strongest background in cases like my own?
  • Whose strategy and advice seemed most sound?
  • Whose legal fees seemed reasonable?
  • With which attorney was I most comfortable?

If you’re still having trouble selecting an attorney, ask them for the names and numbers of former clients. Then call them to get some real-world input into how the attorneys worked. The feedback you receive should guide you to the very best San Francisco car accident lawyer for you. Once you have hired him, you are ready to seek compensation for your injuries and damages.