After a car accident you have a lot of things to consider and deal with quickly, and one of those things to consider is which attorney you should hire, and what questions to ask them. This article will go over five of the questions I think are the most important for car accident attorneys in Alabama.
1. Do you prioritize or focus on Car Accident cases?
Look the days of a general practice attorney that does a little bit of everything is starting to come to a close in my opinion. While there are rules from the Bar Association about if an attorney can claim to specialize in something or be an expert on some area of law, attorneys can tell you what they focus on. My focus is on car accident litigation and I have had a lot of success in these types of cases. You should be seeking an attorney who knows all the ins and outs for the type of case you have.
2. How can I expect to receive case updates from you?
Attorneys have a duty to keep clients up to date on their case as it moves through the process. However, not all attorneys are good about this, and those that are may only send letters, texts or may have a secretary call you. If you have a preference on how you get updated, you should ask the attorney how they deliver that information. Is it a personal call from them, a call from someone else in their office, or is it by text or email. None of these are bad methods, but you should be getting updates in the way that is most conducive to your life. Make sure the attorney you are hiring is willing to do it.
3. Are you willing to try a case in Court in front of a Jury?
While I think most attorneys in Alabama practicing in personal injury are willing to take cases to a jury trial, not all are. I know that there have been attorneys in Alabama that had it in their contract that they would not go to trial. This may not be explained or even mentioned in their initial consultation unless you ask them directly. So, make sure that if you are hiring an attorney that you are hiring one that is willing to go all the way with your case if necessary. Many times it is better for everyone to settle before a trial, but there are cases where a trial is necessary to get the best result. If I was seeking an attorney in Alabama or elsewhere, I would never hire an attorney that wasn't willing to go to trial.
4. How are your attorneys fees and expenses structured?
Different attorney's offices structure their fees and expenses different. It is common in Alabama Personal Injury cases, such as car accidents, for the attorney to work on a contingency fee basis. This is a fee structure where the client pays nothing unless money is collected on their behalf. The attorney will front the expenses of litigating the case for the client and if he loses then the client is not responsible for reimbursing the attorney for those expenses. If the attorney collects, then the expenses are taken out of the settlement as well as his attorney's fees which is typically a percentage of the award or settlement. Here is the critical part to find out, some offices take the fee percentage first and then their expenses, others take the expenses out first and then their fee percentage. Why does the order matter? It matters because if the percentage comes out first and then the expenses then you will receive less than if it is expenses and then fee percentage. Hire a firm that is going to put the most in your pocket.
5. What kind of financial damages can I expect to recover?
This question is somewhat of a loaded question, and you are not looking for the highest number. I suggest asking this question to weed out Alabama Attorneys that are willing to blow smoke to get you to sign a contract and not as a method of establishing an estimated value of your case. I wouldn't hire someone that is willing to say anything to get the job. Your attorney should be providing you good and sound advise. He should tell you both the good and the bad of your case, even when you don't want to hear it. A good attorney answer to this question should sound something like this, "If you are asking me for a number or a range of numbers that is hard if not impossible to provide at this time. I do not have enough information about the case to estimate that at this point. If you are asking for the types of damages we can claim, those would be medical bills, missed time from work, pain and suffering, and mental anguish. You could also seek punitive damages if there was some type of intentional or reckless behavior." Now that is not an exhaustive list of damages, because there are many and every case is different, but it provides a good road map of what I would hope and expect to hear from an attorney I was hiring for myself. Again, there are a lot of attorneys that will tell you anything to get you in the door and your signature on the contract, but you don't want that. If an attorney promises you a result, RUN!
Final Thoughts on Hiring a Alabama Auto-Accident Lawyer
Hiring the attorney as quickly after an auto-accident as possible is important. There are some types of evidence that are time sensitive. Many places that record video have their systems set to automatically record over the video unless it is manually pulled. So, to maximize your chances of gathering all the evidence available for your case, you should contact an attorney immediately so they can begin working on your case.
While this is few and far between, there are some attorneys out there that do not offer free consultations on injury cases. Do not, I repeat do not, bother meeting with these people. If they can not be bothered to have a client come in for a free consultation then they are more interested in money than helping people. Your attorney's primary goal and focus should be to help you and get a result that puts you back in the best position possible after your accident.
Finally, a question that I didn't include is, how long have you been practicing? I thought about including this question and decided against it, and I will explain why I think this question is unimportant. I have known quite a few attorneys that have been practicing for a long time that do an ok job. I have also known a number of young attorneys that really care about their clients and fight like heck to do the absolute best they can for them. As one of my first bosses told me, "there is nothing more dangerous than a young lawyer with too much time on his hands, he will find something the older attorney missed just because he has the time and energy to examine the file much more." Instead of hiring the old attorney with 20 year experience just because he has been at it a long time, hire the attorney that explains his thoughts well, gives you a sense of security, and that you feel confident in, regardless of his/her age.
Free Consultation with an Alabama Car Accident Attorney
If you would like to set up a free consultation with an Alabama Car Accident Attorney that truly cares about his clients, then contact Nelson Johnson. Nelson has represented hundreds of clients in auto accident cases and the bulk of his practice is Auto-Accident cases. Nelson has the ability to communicate case information by phone, text, or email. He also makes it his personal mission to return missed client calls within 48 hours of receipt. Nelson is not afraid to fight the insurance companies on your behalf, and he is willing and ready to take your case all the way to ensure you receive fair compensation.