If you’ve been injured in a car accident and have already decided you’d like to hire a lawyer, you might be wondering how to find an attorney who understands your needs and can represent you with tenacity. Many accident victims in this situation simply don’t know where or how to get started, often due to unfamiliarity with the legal system. Here are six tried and true steps to help you find a car accident lawyer in San Antonio who can deliver the representation you deserve.
5 Steps to Finding the Right Car Accident Lawyer in San Antonio
1. Determine the Type of Lawyer You Need
There are essentially two types of law in the United States: criminal and civil. Judges hearing criminal matters can sentence individuals to prison or jail, while civil cases involve disputes between two private parties and result in injunctions or monetary penalties. While some traffic matters, such as DUIs and reckless driving tickets, can indeed be criminal issues, recovering damages due to a car accident falls under a specific branch of civil law, personal injury law.
To get the best possible representation as a car accident victim, you need to look for an attorney specializing in personal injury law, specifically motor vehicle accidents. It’s also useful to look for someone with experience practicing in the jurisdiction where your case will be heard. If your accident occurred in San Antonio, look for a car accident lawyer in San Antonio to ensure your attorney knows how to get things done efficiently in that specific court system.
2. Come Up With a List of Personal Must-Haves
Every accident victim and case is unique, so it’s essential to consider your personal preferences and needs when selecting an attorney. Is communication particularly important to you? If so, prioritize finding an attorney with whom you feel comfortable discussing your case and asking follow-up questions. And if you prefer to discuss your case via video chat or in Spanish, make sure the attorney you select offers that option.
Others prefer to select an attorney based on approach, with some victims feeling more comfortable with an advocate who emphasizes negotiation and mediation and others desiring more aggressive representation. You’ll still want to consider experience, reputation, and familiarity with San Antonio when deciding, but keep in mind that most cases don’t go to trial but are resolved through negotiation, which rewards strong communication skills.
3. Start Looking Around
Gathering as much information as possible about local attorneys is the next step. Consider searching online for personal injury attorneys in the area where your accident occurred to get started. Next, look at a few practice websites and delve more deeply into individual attorney biographies to learn general background information, such as where an attorney you’re considering working with is licensed to practice and their trial experience.
Spend a bit of time reviewing the cases any attorney you’re considering highlights on their site and use that to determine whether that lawyer’s experience matches your needs. Look at online reviews and testimonials you find through general searches and attorney rating sites. Pay attention to what qualities, characteristics, and approaches to communication former clients emphasize to help you determine what any given attorney or practice prioritizes.
4. Schedule a Meeting
Once you’ve come up with a list of strong candidates, set up a few introductory in-person or video meetings where you can get a feel for whether or not you’ll work well with this individual. During the meeting, make sure to address your communication and contact preferences and bring up any special needs you might have, such as preferring to communicate by phone instead of via email or in a specific language, such as Spanish.
Most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations during which you can briefly discuss your case and evaluate whether or not you’re interested in pursuing a working relationship with that lawyer. Ask about general investigatory experience, and if the attorney practices in a firm, inquire about how practice resources will be used to obtain the best possible outcome in your case. Use the meeting to determine if there’s a good fit between you and that attorney or firm.
5. Make Sure You Understand the Payment Terms
Most personal injury attorneys take cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you don’t have to pay upfront for representation. If you enter into one of these agreements, your attorney will only be paid if you receive compensation. With a contingency agreement, you essentially agree to pay your attorney a percentage of whatever compensation you receive.
Before you sign, spend plenty of time reviewing the fine print. Make sure you understand how expenses such as expert and courier fees will be handled to avoid unpleasant financial surprises down the road.
While these steps will help you narrow down your options, it’s still up to you to make the right decision, and selecting an attorney is extremely personal. Spend some time considering the qualities and characteristics you find most important in a lawyer: empathy, responsiveness, assertiveness, or something else. Make a determination, and then use that to guide your final decision. Remember, the goal is to find the best attorney for you and that depends on your goals.