You have been injured in a car accident and aren’t sure what your next steps should be. Fortunately, we know just what to do. After the dust settles and your injuries are attended to, the first thing you should do is contact a car accident lawyer. But how will you choose the attorney that’s right for you?
Ask the Right Questions
You need an attorney who has experience and availability to focus on your case. Taking the time to interview your shortlist of candidates makes it easier, but what should you ask? Here are four key questions you should ask a personal injury attorney.
1. Do I have a case?
If you watch television or see ads on social media, it’s easy to believe that every person involved in a car accident has the right to sue. This is simply not the case. The mere act of being involved in a wreck in West Palm Beach does not mean you have a case against someone. To file a successful lawsuit, there must be negligence involved.
In other words, your personal injury attorney works to prove that the other driver was negligent in some way. This means that the other driver operated their vehicle in a way that would not be deemed reasonable by an ordinary person.
For example, the person may have sped through a red light at an intersection and T-boned your car. You must show the judge that the other driver broke the law and behaved negligently.
Also, you must have damages exceeding $10,000. Anything below that amount falls under personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage.
The first step in determining if you have a case is to have a conversation with your West Palm Beach car accident attorney. Keep in mind that a reputable attorney will not lie to you. Personal injury attorneys tend to work on a contingency basis; they do not get paid unless they win your case. If you don’t have a solid case, a good lawyer will tell you so.
2. What type of compensation am I entitled to?
This is often one of the first questions people ask. The truth is that there is no black and white answer. Each case is different and only after a thorough discovery of the facts can an exact amount be calculated.
In general, you will be entitled to two forms of compensation: compensatory and punitive damages. Let’s take a closer look at both:
- Compensatory Damages: Compensatory damages put money back in your pocket for the financial losses you suffer. These losses can include medical bills (past and future), lost wages (past and future), and pain and suffering.
- Punitive Damages: Punitive damages are a form of punishment for the offender. They are meant to dissuade the at-fault party from behaving negligently in the future.
The amount of damages you are awarded by a court of law will depend on who holds a share of the blame. If the other driver was 100% at fault, you could receive every penny you are entitled to. If you were partly at fault for the accident, you may only receive a partial award.
Your West Palm Beach car accident lawyer will not promise you a specific dollar amount. However, they will be able to tell you what you are entitled to.
3. What happens during my accident case?
Once your attorney has determined that you have a case, that case will be filed and your lawyer will guide you through each step of the process.
Moving forward, you will want to know about your attorney’s fee structure. Also, find out how involved your attorney will allow you to be in the process. You should expect an attorney to stay in touch with you and let you know where your case stands.
Finally, ask how long the case will last. Most are settled in under two years, but some take longer. You may be expected to take time off of work to appear in court. Knowing how long your case will take from start to finish is important.
4. How many cases like mine have you handled?
Everyone has to start somewhere, but do you want to be your attorney’s first car accident victim? A personal injury attorney handles many different types of cases. You want one that has successfully represented people in cases like yours.
Contact our office to receive a free case evaluation with one of our West Palm Beach car accident lawyers. Call (800) 560-5059 to discuss your case with an expert. Se habla Espanol!