If you’ve been in a car accident recently, you may be dealing with serious injuries, a totaled vehicle, or even the loss of a loved one. Add insurance and lawyers to that, and it’s a lot. This quick guide gives you 10 questions to make sure you ask your car accident lawyer when you need to be made whole.
Ask Your Lawyer These 10 Questions After a Car Accident
1. How is fault determined in a car accident?
Determining fault is key in car accident cases. Whoever is at fault will end up having to pay for all or some of the damages the other party has suffered.
If it’s not immediately clear who was responsible for your car accident, it could make your case more complicated — but your attorney should be able to explain everything to you.
2. What should I do after my car accident?
Immediately following a car accident, you should always seek medical attention. Most personal injury attorneys will tell you that even if you don’t seem to have any major injuries right away, you should still get checked out by a physician. Some injuries may not become apparent to you until weeks or months later.
3. What are the most important deadlines?
Filing a car accident lawsuit requires a lot of paperwork. Your attorney will know when all of these are and be able to file on your behalf, but they will need information from you to make it happen. Stay on top of your deadlines to keep your case on track.
You should also know that there is a statute of limitations for filing car accident lawsuits in Indiana; if you wait more than two years after the accident, you may not be able to file a lawsuit.
4. How long will my case take?
Car accident lawsuits vary considerably in how long they take. Some are resolved in a few weeks while others could take a year or more. Ask your attorney what they think the honest timeline for your case is. Their goal should be taking as much time as needed to get you the full financial compensation you deserve.
5. What damages can I recover in this case?
Generally, car accident lawsuits seek damages for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and property damage. Those aren’t the only damages you can recover from a personal injury case in Indiana, however, so ask your lawyer about it.
6. What should I do if my insurance company makes an offer?
It’s a good idea to have your attorney consult with your insurance company on your behalf because your lawyer will know how best to protect your rights and not let you get bullied. If your insurance company makes you an offer, you should not take it without first consulting with your attorney.
7. Do you think my case will go to trial?
This question will help you learn more about the attorney than about your case. A good attorney will tell you upfront that it’s more likely your case ends in a settlement, but they should also reassure you that they’re preparing for trial just in case. You should feel that your attorney is confident in handling either negotiations with your insurer outside of a trial or arguing your case in front of a jury.
8. How long do I have to wait to get the money if there’s a settlement?
If your auto accident case ends with a settlement, you won’t receive the money right away. It may take several days or even up to six weeks. It depends on several factors including the signing of release forms, whether you have a medical or other lien against you, or how long it takes your attorney to deduct their share from your settlement. Your attorney may not have a definite answer to this question, but they’ll have more information about the potential delays.
9. How will you charge for my case?
You should find out upfront how the car accident attorney will bill you for the case. Most work on contingency, meaning they’ll only get paid for the work on your case if you win. They’ll take a percentage of your total settlement check, usually between 20–40 percent. Find out what your attorney’s exact percentage is before they accept the case.
10. Are you the attorney who will handle my case?
Sometimes the first person you meet with about your car accident case isn’t the attorney who works on it. Or there might be a team of attorneys and paralegals handling it. Find out who will be putting in the hours on your case and if you’ll be able to reach them easily when you have questions or concerns.
Questions a Car Accident Lawyer Might Ask You
It’s helpful to go to a first meeting with a car accident attorney with a list of questions prepared, but if you decide to work with them, you should be ready to answer some questions yourself. Here’s what an auto accident lawyer may ask you.
1. When did the accident happen?
They’ll want to know how long ago the accident occurred to see if you’ve passed the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit.
2. Explain how the accident occurred in as much detail as possible.
Give your attorney as much information about the accident as you can. No detail is too small and don’t be afraid to draw a picture or diagram to help it explain it better.
3. Did police come to the scene and file a report?
Having a police report on file will make dealing with your auto insurance claim easier. You should always call the police after an accident, even if there’s no injuries, so they can file a formal report.
4. Did the other driver admit fault?
If the other driver admitted fault in the accident and it’s recorded in the police report, that will be very helpful for your case and your attorney will definitely want to know about it.
5. Provide a complete list of all your injuries.
If you have any knowledge of an injury, your attorney should too. Even if it’s an injury or condition that predates the accident, your attorney should know about it because it could have an impact on your current medical condition.
6. Where did you go for medical care after the accident and how did you get there?
If you were badly injured in the collision and needed immediate medical attention, your attorney will need details about that. Tell them which medical facility you were treated at and if you got there in an ambulance or someone else drove you.
7. Do you know the policy limits on the insurance coverage of the other driver?
If you have the chance to exchange insurance information with the other driver, do so and note their policy limits. You might have a case worth $1 million, but if their coverage stops at $50,000, it’ll be pretty difficult to get more than $50,000.
8. Do you have underinsured motorist coverage on your insurance?
Auto insurance is a legal requirement for drivers in Indiana, but 15.8% were still uninsured as of 2019. If your policy includes underinsured motorist coverage, it can impact your insurance claim. Bring copies of your policies with you to your meeting with your attorney.
Ask your attorney the right questions
You hire a car accident attorney for their expertise and the handling of your personal injury lawsuit. So don’t be afraid to ask questions and get clarifications when you need them — helping you understand and guiding you through the process is their job.