There’s an old proverb which says “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” In other words, in order to reach your destination, you must get started in a thoughtful way.
In the personal injury context, the destination is fair compensation for your injuries. That includes money for economic losses, such as medical bills, and noneconomic losses, such as pain and suffering. The first step is a free consultation with a Yakima car accident lawyer.
Your time is very valuable. That’s especially true after a serious injury. Ordinary things like traveling to a nearby office and sitting still for a half hour are often Herculean tasks. Your attorney’s time is valuable as well. Your lawyer is busy fighting for fair compensation for other clients as well. So, it’s important to optimize the time you have together and know what to expect at your car accident lawyer’s free consultation.
Understand the Statute of Limitations
In car crash cases, the statute of limitations, which is normally two years, is generally not a factor. Most car wreck victims seek legal help immediately after the incident. But for various reasons, some people wait to pursue their legal claims.
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The statute of limitations is usually more important in other kinds of negligence cases, such as a defective product or a dangerous drug.
If the statute of limitations has expired, there may be nothing an attorney, or anyone else, can do. In most areas of life, once time slips away, it is usually gone forever.
Evaluate the Lawyer
A car accident free consultation is a lot like a job interview. In those meetings, both the applicant and employer evaluate each other. Similarly, if you do not have a good feeling about the lawyer, there are plenty of other places to go for legal help.
As soon as you make the appointment, do some research online. The Washington Bar Association’s website is a good place to look. See if there are any complaints against the lawyer, and see what organizations the attorney is involved in. If the attorney lists some prior case results, that’s a good place to look as well.
Always take social media reviews with a grain of salt. Sometimes they are accurate and genuine. But there’s no guarantee that the reviewer actually used that lawyer’s services. Also, if the review is excessively glowing and is flawlessly professional, there’s a good chance that a paid writer posted it.
Part of your evaluation takes place at the meeting. For example, is the lawyer’s waiting room crowded, vacant, or somewhere in the middle? If the lawyer has lots of clients, the attorney’s time may be limited.
Official documents can usually be used as evidence at trial, and they are very useful in building your case. Some of these official documents include:
- Police Accident Report: First responders usually investigate the accident and prepare written reports. These reports usually include a summary of that investigation as well as witness contact information. However, this report is not always complete, accurate, or fair.
- Medical Records: Doctor’s notes include diagnosis, treatment, and other technical information. These notes also contain informal information about the patient’s condition and state of mind. Medical bills help a Yakima personal injury lawyer ascertain damages, and test results, like X-ray pictures, supplement this information.
- Traffic Tickets or Other Citations: If you or the other driver got a ticket, your lawyer needs to know about it. These citations could be relevant to legal doctrines like negligence per se and contributory negligence
Informal documents are important as well. Keep a diary which records your daily activities as well as your physical and emotional condition. These notes jog your memory during your consultation and also give your lawyer something to refer back to.
Your Attorney’s Turn
After you present all this information and your attorney listens to you, it is your turn to listen.
An experienced Yakima car crash lawyer can quickly evaluate your claim from both a factual and legal standpoint. That includes not only your case for damages, but also any defenses the insurance company may present.
Based on that analysis, your attorney will lay out your legal options and outline the legal process. Every case is different, but most of them follow the same general outline. Your lawyer should also point out that most car crash cases settle out of court, so there probably will not be a final trial.
After you both decide on a course of action, there will be paperwork to sign and execute. That paperwork should include the amount of the contingent fee. That’s the amount of money an attorney takes from the settlement in payment for legal fees.
Contact an Aggressive Lawyer
A successful consultation is key to establishing a successful damage claim. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Yakima, contact Kapuza Lighty PLLC. You have a limited amount of time to act.