Auto Accident Attorneys – Steps to Choose the Right Lawyer For Your Michigan Car Accident
Finding and meeting the right lawyer can seem intimidating, especially for someone who has never hired an auto attorney.
So how do you go about finding the best auto accident attorney to handle your case? I recommend you do the following:
• Begin by talking with family, friends and co-workers to see if anyone they know was involved in a car accident lawsuit. Ask them about their experience and if they would recommend their auto attorney.
• Search the Internet for local attorneys who specialize in auto accidents. Review their Web sites for professional advice and a solid track record with cases. Beware of advertising materials and Web sites that contain self-proclaimed endorsements, such as ‘the best, the top, leading,’ that cannot be supported by fact or verified by recognized third parties.
• Avoid the Yellow Pages: The best auto accident attorneys don’t have to advertise heavily, they earn new clients from positive word of mouth or from other lawyer referrals.
Once you have identified a few potential auto attorneys, do some research before contacting their offices:
• Seek third-party verification of the law firm and the lawyer’s reputation by checking legal publications, such as Michigan Lawyers Weekly, for any positive or negative publicity about the lawyer or the cases that she has handled.
• Contact the State Bar of Michigan and Martindale-Hubbell, or visit those Web sites to find out whether the lawyer is in good standing. Martindale-Hubbell’s AV Rating is the highest for legal ability and ethics, though very few Michigan lawyers and law firms have been given this top rating.
• The auto accident attorney should be actively involved with Michigan legal organizations such as the Michigan Association for Justice, the American Association for Justice and the State Bar of Michigan; not just as members but as leaders familiar with the latest developments in Michigan no-fault insurance and auto negligence personal injury laws.
Once you have verified the quality of an auto attorney, call to set up an initial consultation. Some firms will charge a consultation fee to meet with you, but most Michigan auto accident attorneys offer free consultations to better inform potential clients, with no fee or obligation. Because car accident cases are very time-sensitive, you should expect the attorney to quickly respond to a phone or Internet request immediately.
The first meeting is very important in deciding whether an auto accident attorney or law firm is the right fit for you. Here are some ideas of questions to ask during the consultation that can help evaluate whether a particular lawyer will be the best fit for your case:
1. How easy will it be to get in touch with you? 2. What client references do you have that can comment on your skills and trustworthiness? 3. How many cases like mine have you handled in the last year?4. Who else in the office will be working on my case?5. How is payment for services handled? Are there any fees I will have to pay out of pocket during my case or at the end? 6. If my case is lost and no compensation is awarded, will I still owe you something for your time and effort? (Generally speaking, auto attorneys will charge for their services on a contingency fee basis, where the client pays the attorney 33 percent of what the attorney collects in a settlement or if the case goes to trial.)
After the consultation is over, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Did the auto accident attorney listen well?2. Did the attorney explain legal topics to me in terms I was able to understand?3. Did the auto attorney appear very knowledgeable about Michigan no-fault law and how the law applies to my specific case? Did he have to “research it” and get back to me?4. Did the auto attorney seem to understand my medical injuries and offer to refer me to the best medical care?
Ultimately, you want to choose the auto accident lawyer that you believe will do the best job for you. Even if you choose not to hire an attorney or file a lawsuit, there is no harm in getting initial advice on steps you can take to immediately protect yourself after a serious injury from a Michigan auto accident.