Choosing the Right Bicycle Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident and are considering hiring a personal injury attorney, you probably have a lot of questions. One of the first things you are probably wondering about is how to decide which attorney to hire.
Choosing an attorney can be very intimidating. Most of our clients have had very little or no personal experience with attorneys before their bicycle crash. And cultural ideas about attorneys lead many people to believe that most personal injury lawyers are untrustworthy or at least unlikeable – and that only wealthy people are able to afford a lawyer.
Questions to Ask Potential Lawyers
To help you with the process of finding an attorney who is right for you, we have created a list of questions to ask your potential attorney. Do not be afraid to ask these questions, either. Some attorneys can be pushy, but it is your case and your life. A good personal injury attorney should have no problem answering all of these questions.
- Does your firm handle mainly personal injury claims? You need to be sure that your attorney knows personal injury claims inside and out. If he or she does not, then that attorney may not be the best one for you.
- What types of personal injury cases have you handled? There are many different varieties of personal injury cases. They can include motorcycle accidents, car accidents, medical negligence, pedestrian injuries, dog bite cases, slip and fall cases, product liability, workers’ compensation, and much more. Bicycle accident cases have their own nuances that even a lawyer that does mostly traffic accident cases — but not specifically bicycle accident cases — may miss. If you’ve been in a bicycle accident, you should hire a bicycle accident lawyer.
- What is your role at the law firm? If you are working with an attorney at a big firm, you may not meet the actual attorney at your first meeting. It is imperative that your case is handled start to finish by experienced attorneys. That said, it is very common for attorneys to work in teams, and we do so often at Bay Area Bicycle Law. Working as a team on a case allows lawyers to manage their caseloads, so that there is always someone available to focus on your case. It also means that attorneys with different strengths can work on different parts of your case — one bike accident attorney might be particularly good at taking depositions, while another might excel at negotiations.
- Will you be handling my case or will it be handled by a paralegal? Some firms will pass off their smaller cases to be almost exclusively handled by a paralegal. And while many paralegals are fantastic – they don’t have the training needed to handle tough cases. Ask if your case will be handled primarily by a lawyer or a paralegal.
- How long has your firm, and you, been in practice? Make sure that your law firm has several years of experience handling such claims and have been successful handling these types of cases. Although attorneys typically cannot provide references because their rules of professional conduct prohibit sharing names of prior clients, most attorneys these days have a Yelp page that can give you an idea of whether past clients have been satisfied with their services.
- How many trials have you first chaired? The likelihood that your case will go to trial is very slim, as the vast majority of personal injury cases settle before trial. Still, there are advantages to hiring a skilled and experienced trial attorney. Insurance companies keep track of which lawyers have tried cases and which haven’t — and insurance companies are much more scared of lawyers who have lots of court room experience. And a scared insurance company means a bigger settlement.
- What fees do you charge? Most personal injury attorneys charge a contingency fee — which means that they get paid out of a settlement or judgement that they get for you. That is what attorneys mean when they say that they only get paid if you win. Reputable bike accident lawyers will not have any hidden fees for their time, and will clearly lay out all of the fees and other terms of their representation in a written retainer agreement.
- How long will it take to settle my claim? In most cases, it will take 12 to 18 months to handle a claim, but it is important to ask your potential attorneys to be sure they are not afraid to work as long as necessary to get you the compensation you deserve. If a lawyer says they can settle your case quickly, ask follow up questions. Although in some cases quick settlements are possible, most often it is to your benefit to take your time healing and then negotiating with the insurance company.
Making a Personal Connection
The truth is that there are a lot of attorneys with the right skills to succeed with your case. Finding a lawyer who you like is also very important. When you are talking to a potential lawyer, keep in mind whether you enjoyed the conversation. Did she make you feel at ease? Did he seem to listen and understand you well? Is this a person who you would want to have in your life potentially for the next couple of years? Despite their often negative public image, most personal injury attorneys are nice people who care a great deal about their work — so don’t be intimidated to call, or settle for a lawyer you don’t really like. With a few phone calls, you should be able to find a lawyer who is very competent, and who you enjoy working with.
Contact an Experienced Bicycle Law Attorney Today
The bike crash attorneys at Bay Area Bicycle Law help injured cyclists all day, every day. If you have been injured in a bicycle crash, we would be happy to speak with you about your case and next-steps — whether you wish to hire us or not.
Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation and let us handle your claim so you can focus on your recovery.