8 Things You Should Look for in a Chicago Car Accident Lawyer
Whether Wrigley Field, Millennium Park, Navy Pier and the Magnificent Mile make you stare out the window in excitement or just serve as mile markers on your commute, one thing is for sure: a crash can really tarnish these sites’ luster.
Car crashes are unfortunately all too common. Most of us have been involved in at least a fender bender. But if you’ve ever been injured in an accident, you’re in need of a Chicago auto accident attorney.
As of September 2017, The Illinois Department of Transportation reported that there have been 652 fatal crashes. Furthermore, about half of those crashes happen in Cook County, with approximately 100-150 fatalities, including bicyclists and pedestrians.
These numbers don’t take into account the thousands of injuries produced as a result of these accidents. Recovering physically and financially from an accident injury is challenging to say the least.
Automobile accidents happen outside tourist spots too. But one thing is the same: no matter where you are, you need help fast.
Tap the breaks, coast to a safe spot, and read on to find out what you should be looking for in an ideal lawyer in the Windy City.
If you find yourself in need of a Chicago auto accident attorney, selecting one can be overwhelming. You may end up scheduling consults with several lawyers before finding one that is right for you.
Your attorney should not only have a solid reputation and track record. You’ll want one that has the time and resources for your case, not to mention the compassion to understand the emotional and difficult time you are going through.
Here are some characteristics that make a great Chicago auto accident attorney.
You Receive Multiple Referrals For The Same Lawyer
If you know of anyone who has used a Chicago auto accident attorney, ask them for a referral. If there’s no one in your immediate family, inquire with coworkers, friends, acquaintances, even other lawyers if you know any.
If you know someone who works in the field of law, such as a divorce attorney or other professions, ask them for a reference. Many will know some good personal injury lawyers.
Most likely, the same two or three names will come up as you ask around. Write the names down and schedule consultations. Again, you may need to meet several lawyers before making a final decision.
Even if you don’t have a connection to a lawyer, you can still read about others’ experiences via testimonials and review sites. Enter your prospective car accident legal team’s names online or find forums to participate in and ask for feedback.
Working ahead of an accident means you have instant access to the help you need when you need it.
Experience, Experience, Experience
Any personal injury lawyer should have experience with injury cases in the Chicago area specifically. That experience should include trial experience, with large settlements and favorable verdicts.
While it is faster and easier to settle a case out of court, you want a lawyer that is prepared to reach a settlement or ruling that is fair and what you deserve.
Oftentimes, that means going to trial. Hence, your attorney should have the experience to aggressively fight for your best interests inside the courtroom.
The Lawyer Has an Excellent Track Record
It’s important to know how many cases the firm has settled and how many they have taken to trial and won in Chicago. Many cases settle out of court, some law firms have little trial experience.
The Chicago auto accident attorney you choose should have solid experience, with high favorable verdict numbers.
While this obviously matters if you end up in court, it’s also crucial when negotiating a settlement. After all, if the other party knows the firm representing you is prepared to take it all the way to court, they will be more motivated to settle.
The Firm Specializes in Auto Accident Cases
We suggest that you select a Chicago car accident lawyer who specializes in a certain type of law. Because there are so many, we think it’s the best idea to go with an expert, rather than the stereotypical “jack of all trades, master of none.”
Like any other professional field, the field of law has specialties. The Chicago auto accident attorney or firm you choose must specialize in car and motorcycle accidents, and personal injury cases in particular.
As described by the Chicago-Kent College of Law, accident and injury lawyers bring skills including trial practice, civil procedures, interrogation, brief writing, oral arguments and conducting trials.
Your Attorney is Licensed
It takes years in the courtroom and education to be considered an expert in accident injury law. If you are looking for the best of the best, then look for a Chicago auto accident attorney who is actually licensed in the State of Illinois.
Your Lawyer Should Listen to You
Your attorney should take the time to listen to you, your story and especially any questions or concerns you may have. When speaking to you, they should also be able to explain things to you clearly and plainly and save the legal jargon for the documentation and courtroom.
Personality matters in these situations, as you and your lawyer need to work together to achieve the best outcome.
Since you’re not the legal expert, your attorney should be able to keep your partnership moving in the right direction.
During Your Consultation
Most attorneys offer free consultations, so be sure to interview more than one Chicago auto accident attorney. In fact, interview as many as you need to feel satisfied with your decision.
Your prospective attorney should ask for documentation. So be sure to bring whatever you have that may be pertinent, including any accident or hospital reports, police report and any communication from the insurance company.
Ask Your Own Questions
During this consultation, ask detailed questions. Be prepared in advance. For example, discuss your accident claim. If the attorney doesn’t offer a potential strategy for handling it, ask for one.
You can ask questions such as:
-How long have you been in practice? What professional organizations are you a part of?
-How do you keep up with new legislation?
-Do you specialize in personal injury? Do you represent mostly defendants or plaintiffs? (You want someone who represents plaintiffs since defendants are more than likely connected to insurance companies.)
-Will you take my case personally or assign it to a junior partner? If so, can I speak to that person as well?
-How many cases like mine have you handled before?
Your Lawyer Has Ample Resources
Your Chicago auto accident attorney should have enough resources and staff to properly focus on your case. You don’t want your case to be shuffled from person to person within the firm.
Your Lawyer Communicates Well
You can ask the attorney what the typical call return time is for communications. If you call with a question, the firm should respond in a timely manner.
A lawyer who can’t respond to clients may be understaffed or otherwise not committed to your case. If it takes several days to return a phone call, you lose time and, most importantly, peace of mind while you wait.
Hitting the Books
If you think your prospective Chicago car accident lawyer is the only one who should have been studying up to help you after an accident, think again!
You’ll be at the head of the class if you do some of your own research as well, including investigating your potential lawyer’s own school background. And in this case, it’s not just the how, but the where.
All lawyers need to have many years of education past the bachelor level, but perhaps you feel a strong preference for a lawyer who has spent time in the “home trenches.”
Don’t be afraid to pop a quiz on your lawyer and ask him or her about his time in law school, including where they fell in their graduating class, any time spent on activities like law review and mock trial, and for professor references.
Of course, Chicago is home to multiple law schools, including the University of Chicago Law School, Northwestern University School of Law, DePaul University College of Law, and John Marshall Law School
Membership Has Its Privileges
Want a way to know that your chosen Chicago car accident lawyer is at the top of his or her game, even if it’s been a few years – or decades – since graduation?
Look for someone who stays involved in the field through networking, seminars, continuing education and conferences. These types of involvements mean the lawyer stays in the know.
One way for lawyers to remain involved is to join industry associations, such as the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the Illinois Trial LAwyers' Assocaition. Also, are they graduates of pretigious training programs such as "The Edge" or "Gerry Spence's Trial Lawyers College"?
You don’t have to be a member yourself of many of these organizations to search for lawyers and you can ask your prospective one whether he or she participates.
A Chicago Car Accident Lawyer Knows City-Specific Laws
Still with us? Another reason you want to lock in an expert lawyer is that someone in the know can help you when you are the most desperate. Getting a local on your side can make a world of difference.\
Sure, the national lawyers you see hawking their services on infomercials may know the general scope of all laws across the country, but do they know Illinois specifics?
For example, if your car accident was a result of texting while driving, a local lawyer is going to know the four exceptions permitted by police. Someone from out of the area? Maybe not. Why take the risk?
Car vs Bike vs Boat
If it’s not an automobile but a motorcycle or other type of vehicle that revs your engines, it’s a good idea to get a lawyer who knows these types of laws. Get this lawyer into your cell phone contacts list as soon as possible.
Although we assume most people are getting around Chicago on four wheels, it’s not always the case. When motorcycles and bikes are involved in a car accident, you should have an expert on your side and at your side.
Many Chicago car accident lawyers are actually cross-trained in motorcycle-specific law (as well as maritime issues for boaters and even lawyers who have specialized in truck driver safety).
They should be your first call after you’ve sorted out your health, safety and passengers.
There’s a Checklist for That
Does it seem morbid or pessimistic that we recommend that you be prepared for a car accident? We prefer to think of it as the Boy Scouts do - it’s all about being prepared.
Whether it’s because Chicago drivers can get a little road-ragey at times, or the icy long winters mean unsafe motoring conditions, it always helps to feel like you’ve done everything you can in advance.
And that includes not only having a lawyer you feel comfortable turning to in the aftermath of an accident but talking to him or her about a pre-accident checklist.
Examples such as one from the Ohio Insurance Institute are available online to give you some ideas of what you need. For example, space to write down witness details, law enforcement badge numbers and names and a description of the accident).
However, your selected Chicago car accident lawyer will certainly have some good insight and tips to customize your checklist. Refine it and keep a copy in all your vehicles at all times.
The Good Things ARE Free
Everyone’s heard the saying, “You can’t get something for nothing.” However, what about the slogan, “The best things in life are free?” When it comes to finding the absolute best Chicago car accident lawyer, you absolutely should be looking for something free.
The most conscientious lawyers who have your best intentions first are going to offer you a free consultation, free case evaluation, or even a free heart to heart about your accident.
Don’t pay for any of these things, especially in the tough, scary times after a car accident.
Claim your free consult by clicking here.
Share as much or as little as you’re comfortable with and we will get back to you with a plan to get you on the road as soon as possible.
If You Need a Chicago Auto Accident Attorney
If you find yourself in need of a solid attorney, the suggestions above will hopefully steer your research. Again, we recommend asking for referrals and interviewing more than one attorney to find the best fit for you and your case.
We hope that the Law Office of Scott D. Salvo is on your list of referrals. Please contact us to set up a consultation.
"Hiring Scott was one of the best moves I have made in my life. Scott is a down to earth person and attorney. Scott is a 5 star first class act who really knows his stuff. The Judge said his presentation was one of if not the best he had ever seen. Take my advice, hire Scott. I’m sure you’ll be 200% satisfied. I was."
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