Questions to Ask When Hiring a North Carolina Car Accident Attorney
Hiring an attorney may seem intimidating, particularly if you haven't previously used a lawyer. But you shouldn't be scared off. A North Carolina car accident attorney can be of tremendous help after an automobile accident. And once you start interviewing potential attorneys, you'll discover that it's not as difficult as you might have imagined.
Most personal injury lawyers, including attorneys who represent North Carolina automobile accident victims, offer a free initial consultation to potential clients. This meeting is intended to help you learn more about the attorney and his or her experience, help the attorney learn more about your case, and help you decide whether to hire the attorney. You should schedule an initial consultation with each lawyer you're thinking about hiring.
Preparing to Meet a North Carolina Car Accident Attorney
The initial consultation is designed to help you decide whether an attorney is qualified to handle your case. This means you'll want to prepare for the meeting by creating a list of questions to ask the attorney. You should focus on questions that help you evaluate the lawyer and make it easier to choose between attorneys.
This article suggests dozens of cases that are appropriate to ask North Carolina car accident attorneys. Don't feel obligated to ask all of these questions. Instead, focus on those that are most important to you.
Background & Experience
A good way to start the meeting is by asking about the lawyer's education and professional experience handling automobile accident cases. Suggested questions include:
- What law school did you attend, and when did you graduate?
- How long have you practiced personal injury law in North Carolina?
- Do you only represent automobile accident victims, or do you also do other types of personal injury work?
- How many auto accident victims do you typically represent each year?
- What percentage of car crash cases do you settle each year? What percentage do you take to trial?
- What can you tell me about North Carolina personal injury laws?
- Do you belong to any bar associations or professional organizations? If so, which ones?
Legal Philosophy & Style
You also want to learn more about the attorney's approach and style when it comes to representing car crash victims. Among the questions to consider asking:
- How would you describe your personality as an attorney?
- What is your approach to handling auto accident injury cases?
- What is your philosophy or style when working with clients? Do you present the options and ask me to make a decision, or will you to tell me what I should do?
- Do you prefer to take auto accident cases to court or settle before going to trial?
Assessment of Your Case
Describe how your car accident occurred and what kinds of injuries you suffered. You should feel comfortable answering the lawyer's questions and know that any details you share will remain confidential even if you hire a different lawyer.
Ask for the lawyer's opinion of your case. Relevant questions to ask include:
- Do you frequently handle automobile accident injury cases similar to mine?
- What is your opinion and assessment of my case?
- What kind of financial award can I expect to receive?
- Are there problems with my case that could potentially affect its outcome?
- Is it likely that we'll have to go to trial?
- Is arbitration or mediation an option?
If you're happy with the answers you've received up until this point, you should ask more specific questions about how your case will be managed. Typical questions would include:
- Are you available to handle my case?
- Will you personally manage my case, or will another attorney have that responsibility?
- Will other attorneys or experts be working on my case? What responsibilities will they have?
- How frequently will you provide progress reports, and what will be included in those reports?
- Will you personally handle my case negotiations and court appearances?
- Will you be my day-to-day contact?
- What is the best way to reach you? How quickly can I expect you to respond?
Most North Carolina auto accident lawyers charge their clients a contingency fee, but make sure you understand the details about each lawyer's fee arrangements. Questions to ask about the estimated cost of your lawsuit include:
- Do you charge a contingency fee or an hourly rate?
- If you charge a contingency fee, do you take a fixed percentage of any award? How much is that percentage?
- Do you calculate your fee based on the amount of the award before or after expenses are deducted?
- What are the estimated expenses if the case settles? If it goes to trial?
- If we do not settle or win the case, will I still owe you any money? If so, approximately how much?
- Can you give me some examples of how much money I would take home after your fees and expenses are deducted?
Evaluating a North Carolina Car Accident Attorney
As you meet and talk with the lawyer, you want to consider whether:
- The lawyer has the background and professional skills to handle your case
- The lawyer has sufficient experience representing North Carolina auto accident victims
- The lawyer proposes a case strategy that makes sense
- The lawyer's award estimate is realistic
- The lawyer's estimated legal fees and expenses seem fair
- The lawyer is someone you would trust to handle your case and with whom you feel comfortable
- The lawyer patiently answers your questions and seems to respond openly and honestly
If you've met with several attorneys, spend some time thinking about how which one is most suitable to handle your case. Remember that you want to hire an attorney who has not only the professional knowledge and experience, but also an attorney with whom you feel comfortable and confident. Once you've identified that lawyer, you're ready to hire him or her and move ahead with your case.