It’s not unusual, after an auto accident, to be struggling with a number of questions about how to proceed. Having little or no experience with the legal system, many accident victims dread the idea of contacting an attorney and getting involved in a court battle of some kind. They wonder how they’re going to deal with medical bills, get their vehicle repaired, and otherwise recover from their losses — without a lot of additional expenditure of time and money.
Yet the reality of pursuing an accident claim with the aid of an attorney doesn’t have to be all that complicated and painful. Studies conducted by insurance groups have consistently shown that accident claimants who are represented by an attorney tend to recover more money in damages — from two to four times as much — as those who try to go it alone. The vast majority of claims are resolved without going to trial. And an experienced accident lawyer should be able to address other questions and concerns at your first meeting, known as the initial consultation.
Many law firms, including Franklin D. Azar & Associates, offer an initial consultation at no cost to the client. The consultation in no way obligates you to hire that firm to represent you or to get involved in court proceedings. (Again, most insurance claims are settled without a lawsuit ever being filed.) It’s an opportunity for you to honestly evaluate your case with the assistance of a professional and determine what course of action is in your best interest.
PREPARING FOR MEETING AN ATTORNEY
In order to understand the circumstances of the accident and your available options for recovery, an attorney is going to want to review critical information with you during that first meeting. You should take time before that meeting to gather as much relevant documentation as you have available as well as to make notes about the questions you want to ask.
Successful accident claims often depend on the accident victim’s ability to establish liability, prove damages, and present solid witness and expert testimony. An attorney will want to review your insurance coverage, the official accident report, photos taken at the scene, medical bills, any X-rays or other assessments of injuries, invoices or estimates for car repair and other property damage, witness statements, and so on.
In many instances, the information you provide may be sufficient for an attorney to determine if you have a strong claim to make. But it also might require further investigation —particularly if serious injuries are involved or disputes about who was at fault. Don’t be surprised if you can’t answer all the attorney’s questions at that first meeting; instead, the conversation should help you understand the process of making a claim and give you an opportunity to get to know the attorney and his or her initial impressions of the case.
THE NEED FOR CANDOR
The relationship you develop with an attorney who’s representing you in a traumatic accident case is about much more than simply seeking compensation for your losses; it’s also about trust. Your attorney’s top priority should be to help you recover from the accident and obtain compensation for your losses. In order to achieve this, the attorney will need to know about matters beyond the details of the accident itself, such as how the accident has impacted your ability to work and your daily life, or any prior medical condition that an insurance company might “blame” for complications experienced after the accident. You should be forthcoming and candid on these issues; your attorney needs to know the whole story so that he or she can represent you effectively and help in the process of obtaining appropriate care for your injuries.
By the same token, the attorney should be transparent about the firm’s fee agreement and what you can expect in terms of costs, services, and availability. (Many, but not all, personal injury lawyers offer representation on a contingency basis, meaning that they are paid a percentage of any recovery rather than charging a client hourly fees; no recovery, no fee.) You should be wary of any attorney who seems to promise too much, such as being able to tell you, upon first meeting, “what your case is worth.” An experienced attorney may be able to provide numerous examples of similar cases and the settlements obtained, but every case is different, and past awards are no guarantee of future results. At Franklin D. Azar & Associates, we believe it’s irresponsible to attempt to put a valuation on a case without extensive investigation and assessment of the injuries and circumstances involved.
In the end, the decision to hire a particular attorney is a matter of personal choice. Do you feel comfortable with the attorney’s approach and track record? Is he or she the person in the firm who will actually be handling the paperwork and phone calls and seeing the case through to the end? Is the attorney responsive to your concerns, and does it feel like a good fit? The initial consultation is only a start, but it should help you arrive at answers to those questions.
THE CAR ACCIDENT ATTORNEYS AT FDAZAR
For more than thirty years the attorneys at Franklin D. Azar & Associates have helped thousands of injured people obtain complete and timely compensation for their losses. Our proven track record and expertise have allowed us to grow into the largest personal-injury law firm in Colorado, with offices in Denver, Aurora, Greenwood Village, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo. If you’ve been injured in a bus, car, truck, or motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Please call the car accident attorneys at FDAzar day or night at 720-372-2824 or contact us here for a free consultation and no-obligation evaluation of your case.