No one wants to be in a car accident, but in Alabama a traffic crash was reported every 3 minutes and 55 seconds in 2020. With statistics like that it seems almost inevitable that we will all be involved in an auto accident at some point in our lives.
In Alabama most car accident lawyers will work on what is called a contingency fee. This means there is no upfront cost for you to hire a lawyer and instead the lawyer takes a percentage of the money he is able to collect on your behalf. Typically, that percentage is around 33 and 1/3%; however, circumstances vary and on some cases an attorney may ask for a higher or lower percentage.
So what happens if the attorney is unable to get a settlement or you lose at trial. In that case, the attorney would eat the loss and you would not owe him anything for working on your case if it was signed on a contingency fee. As attorneys working on contingency fee we take on the risk of only getting paid if we can win or settle your case. We only get paid if you get paid.
What else should you consider when looking to hire a car accident lawyer?
1. Does the attorney offer free consultations
Most car accident lawyers will offer a free consultation to discuss the facts and circumstances of your case with you. If they are not willing to sit down and have this initial meeting without charging you some upfront fee then you may want to consider that a red flag. These initial consultations are a great opportunity for you to learn about your case and get a feel for that attorney. This is your chance to interview attorneys and make sure they are a good fit for you, and if someone wants to charge you for that then I would suggest you mark them off your list.
2. Check the State Bar website to ensure the attorney is in good standing
Google the State Bar website and check the membership status of any attorney you consider hiring. Each State Bar will maintain a list of admitted attorneys. This list will show if the attorney is in good standing with the Bar Association or it may also show if they have disciplinary actions against them.
I have known someone to hire an attorney that was on a current suspension and pay them only for that attorney to stop communicating. The attorney was out of State and seemed nice enough over the phone. However, a quick search of the State Bar's website revealed that he was already in trouble for similar issues. My understanding is that the attorney has now been completely disbarred and is required to pay back that money; however, all of that frustration could have been avoided if the search had been done prior to hiring him.
3. Look at their reviews
Check the reviews for the attorneys you are considering. They may have reviews spread across Google, Facebook, Yelp, or even lawyer rating sites such as Justia. The reviews they highlight on their website are obviously going to be favorable, but they may have other reviews out there that tell a different story.
Now don't get me wrong, almost everyone will have at least one less than favorable review. I do think that you can look for patterns in their reviews. This is the person who will be working for you to handle your case, make sure you can depend on them to answer your questions and get back with you quickly.
4. Can they help you understand the process
The Job of any good attorney is to take complex legal topics and simplify them so that anyone can understand. We do this both for our clients and for a jury when trying a case. So ask questions and see how they explain the answers to you. This is good for getting answers to things you want to know, and for testing the attorney's ability to deliver the information to you (or a potential jury one day).
5. Do you feel comfortable with them
Most importantly, does the attorney make you feel at ease? You are hiring this person to take the stress of the process off of you and to ensure your needs and rights are protected. Get a feel for the lawyer as both a person and as a legal professional. Even if I think someone is a great lawyer, plumber, doctor, or electrician doesn't mean they are the one I want working for me if I can't stand to sit in a room with them for an hour.
Sometimes personalities just don't mesh, and that is ok. Lawsuits can be a fairly long process and you don't want to be stuck with someone you can't stand or can't trust just because they come highly recommended.
If you have been in a car accident in Alabama or Georgia and would like to meet with me for a free consultation call or email me at: Phone: (256) 297-1052 or Email: Nelson@GriffithLowry.com