If you’ve recently been injured in a traffic accident that was someone else’s fault, you may want an attorney to guide you through the aftermath. But with so many Seattle auto accident attorneys out there, which one is the best for you? This article can help.
Most auto accident attorneys in Seattle are willing to meet with you briefly in an initial consultation. You should take advantage of these meetings. The questions you ask during them will lead you to the right attorney. If you’re not sure what to ask, we have a number of suggestions. Feel free to use some or all, adding more of your own as you need to.
After getting the name of at least one Seattle auto accident lawyer, call to set up the initial consultation. Often, these meetings are free, but some lawyers charge a nominal fee. Ask about this when booking the appointment.
Before you arrive, take time to write some questions, using the examples below. Bring them with you, along with some writing material to record the answers and any other notes you want to take. The Seattle auto accident attorneys will also find it helpful if you bring:
- Any medical reports and bills you may have stemming from your crash-related injuries
- Repair estimates for your vehicle
- A copy of the police report, if you have it
- Any correspondence with insurance companies, the person who caused the accident or their attorney
Background & Experience
Whether you’re in downtown or Queen Anne or any other part of the city, a good way to start your conversation with a Seattle auto accident lawyer is to ask about his background and experience. Here are some questions you could ask:
- When did you graduate law school? From what school?
- How long have you been representing car crash victims?
- How many auto accident victims do you represent each year?
- How often have you represented clients who had circumstances and/or injuries similar to my own?
- How often do you settle cases? How often do you go to trial?
- Do you belong to a bar association or any other professional organizations? If so, which?
Assessment of Your Case
You’ll also want to get some feedback about the strength of your case and what it might be worth. Some relevant questions to ask include:
- What is your assessment of my case? What are its strengths and weaknesses?
- How much compensation am I likely to receive?
- How likely is a settlement? Do you see this case going to trial?
- How long will the case take to wrap up?
- Is mediation or arbitration an option for me? If so, should we pursue it, and how would it work?
Case management is the term Seattle car accident attorneys use to describe how they handle your case on a daily basis. Don’t think of this as just details. By asking the following questions, you can avoid a lot of misunderstandings:
- Will you personally manage my case, or will it be handed off to somebody else? If so, who? May I meet anyone else who will also work on my case?
- Who will represent me in court? In settlement talks?
- Who is my contact person? How does he prefer to be contacted? How quickly should I expect a response?
- Will I receive regular progress reports? From whom? How often?
In general, most Seattle auto accident attorneys bill their clients in either one of two ways: Either by the hour or using the more popular contingency fee. A lawyer who works on contingency does not ask for any money up front but will take a percentage of the financial award you receive.
Here are some questions that will help you understand the billing process:
- Do you prefer working on contingency? If so, how much is your take?
- If you prefer billing by the hour, what is your rate?
- Will I owe a retainer fee? How much would that be?
- What if I don’t prevail? Do I still owe you anything?
- Besides charging me for your time, what other legal bills will I receive? Can you give me an estimate of how much they may total?
- Can you give me some mathematical examples, showing how much I might make after paying you and the other legal expenses?
Choosing Among Seattle Auto Accident Attorneys
Before you leave your initial consultations, review your notes and questions to make sure you asked everything you had planned. Also ask for the name of some prior clients you could call for a referral. Call them and ask:
- Were you happy with the results your attorney got you?
- Did your attorney give you good advice and guidance through the process?
- Did your attorney communicate well with you?
- Did you find the legal fees reasonable?
- Would you recommend your attorney to a loved one?
The answers to these questions should help you focus in on the very best lawyer among the Seattle auto accident attorneys you interviewed. Once you have hired him, you’re ready to seek compensation for your injuries and damages.