Both the number of hit-and-runs and the number of subsequent deaths from such incidents went up in 2016, according to information from AAA. More people are walking around more towns, which is good in many respects, but it also means that more pedestrians at risk of getting struck by cars which then flee the scene. A hit-and-run currently happens roughly every 43 seconds in the United States.
In fact, one in five pedestrian deaths happen as a result of a hit-and-run. The victims who survive their injuries often need to hire an accident lawyer to recover some of their damages. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, it’s useful to know what to expect when you hire an accident lawyer.
The initial consultation
The ads are ubiquitous. You’ll see ads for accident lawyers in big cities and small towns alike. They’re found on TV, billboards, and park benches. You’ll even find them on buses and trains in cities with public transit systems. There’s usually a photo of a lawyer with a phone number that urges you to call if you’ve been hurt in an accident.
If you do call, you might not be sure what to expect. Chances are, you’ll talk to a lawyer or one of their assistants over the phone. They might ask for details of your case then, or they might ask you to come in for an initial consultation. Either way, the first time you see a lawyer should cost you little to nothing in the way of money. Lawyers know cost is the biggest hurdle to hiring them, and they want to make things a little easier for potential clients. Make sure you hire a local attorney as well. If the car accident occurred in Philadelphia, that means you’ll need an accident attorney in Pennsylvania.
Prospective clients should bring any relevant paperwork to their initial meeting. If they have a police report about that car accident, that’s going to be helpful. If they have medical reports from their doctor, that also has the potential to be incredibly useful. Things like oral surgery records count as well, as modern dental care costs may also be recoverable. Beyond that, you need to be as forthcoming as possible. If you don’t know something or don’t remember, then say that — it’s better to be honest about the gaps in your memory now than later. Not recalling certain details doesn’t make you a bad person, but it could make the case harder to prove in court.
Paying your lawyer
Once you agree to form an attorney client-relationship, you’ll need to agree on roughly how much money it will cost. That agreement should be written down unless you only plan on hiring a lawyer for an hour or two, and for the most part, accident cases take much longer than that to resolve.
There’s also a chance your accident lawyer will agree to work on contingency. In the words of the American Bar Association, “A client pays a contingent fees to a lawyer only if the lawyer handles the case successfully.” This arrangement only works if the lawyer thinks they can prove the case well enough to secure a financial settlement for his or her client. The lawyer will then take a portion of the settlement as payment for working on the case. A few cases will have to go to trial, but in most cases, a good lawyer will be able to get a settlement before things get that far. It might still take months or even years, but that’s still less time than it would take if you had to wait on a courtroom verdict.