There’s no shortage of injury attorneys, no matter where you live. The challenge lies not in finding a drunk driving lawyer near you but in finding one that is right for you and will represent your case in the best way possible.
The attorney you hire to represent your drunk driving injury case can make all the difference in receiving full and fair compensation for your claim. But how do you find the right drunk driving lawyer near you?
Drunk Driving Injury Accident Claims
When an intoxicated driver is responsible for an accident, they can face legal accountability on both criminal and civil fronts. Under state laws, an injured driver or the family of a deceased driver/passenger has the right to pursue a claim for damages.
Typically, families must file such claims within a specified timeframe, usually within about two or three years from the accident.
In addition to seeking compensation for medical expenses, property damage, and lost income, the at-fault driver might have to pay punitive damages to victims. These damages are a special provision in the legal system and deter and reform the defendant from engaging in similar behavior.
In cases where a driver or passenger loses their life due to an accident caused by an intoxicated driver, the immediate family retains the option to file a wrongful death suit to seek damages.
Drunk Driving Injury Accident Compensation
Regardless of whether you reside in a fault or no-fault state, the aftermath of a car accident can lead to similar outcomes and damages. The approach to seeking financial recovery for these damages, however, may vary based on your state’s laws.
Therefore, hire a drunk driving accident attorney well-versed in your state’s legal framework to secure the full and fair value of your claim.
Following injuries sustained in a car accident, the at-fault party’s insurance company must put you back in the same financial position as before the accident. While monetary compensation cannot erase the injuries or the incident itself, it can rebuild your life without the added financial strain caused by the accident.
Damages fall into two main categories: economic (special) and non-economic (general). Economic damages have quantifiable values, including medical expenses, lost income, and diminished earning capacity.
Non-economic damages, on the other hand, lack a specific monetary value and are subjective. They encompass elements such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of consortium, scarring, and disfigurement, as well as loss of a limb or bodily function.
Your drunk driving accident attorney will determine which economic and non-economic damages apply to your case. During settlement negotiations, they will account for all relevant injuries.
If the insurance company representing the at-fault party refuses to offer a settlement that reasonably reflects the type and extent of your damages, you may pursue litigation.
Understanding Punitive Damages
Tort cases might recover compensatory or punitive damages. Compensatory damages reimburse the victim for the costs incurred due to the harm inflicted upon them. These damages are the economic and non-economic losses we discussed above.
On the other hand, punitive damages have a different goal. Rather than compensating the victim, they aim to penalize the wrongdoer and discourage future instances of similar behavior.
Also known as exemplary damages, they may be part of an award from a judge or jury. If you’ve suffered harm by another party, you may have grounds to seek punitive damages.
While the primary objective of punitive damages is to hold the defendant accountable for egregious misconduct, they can serve several secondary purposes.
For instance, they can:
- Compensate for what may seem like an insufficient amount of compensatory damages.
- Act as a deterrent against future conduct resembling that of the defendant.
- Prompt the defendant to alter their usual practices.
- Penalize the defendant for behavior that, while not quite criminal, is still wrongful.
Punitive damages apply only when the claimant or plaintiff can demonstrate that the defendant acted with recklessness, malice, wantonness, intent, outrageousness, or reprehensibility. When awarded, punitive damages may pay substantially more than compensatory damages.
Identifying Trustworthy Attorneys
The initial step to finding the right drunk driving accident attorney for you is to compile a list of reputable attorneys that you can consider. This entails some research.
Once you have this list, you can begin to refine it based on various factors that hold significance for you. It’s essential to prioritize attorneys specializing in personal injury rather than those who occasionally handle such cases alongside other specialties like family law or criminal defense.
Exploring Your Professional Network
Use your professional network to add potential personal injury lawyers to your list. If you previously engaged a lawyer for a different civil matter, such as a divorce, bankruptcy, or contract dispute, ask them for a referral to a lawyer who shares similar principles and values.
You can also reach out to your network of family, friends, neighbors, or colleagues to inquire about their experiences with personal injury lawyers. They may have worked with one they found competent and obtained favorable outcomes.
Even if those in your circle haven’t needed a personal injury attorney, they may have sought legal representation for other purposes. You can ask them to approach that attorney for a referral.
Assessing Attorney Ratings
Once you’ve identified a selection of attorneys you wish to investigate further, review their ratings. Regardless of how you come across a lawyer, verify their good standing with your state and local bar association. Some state bar associations may even provide a referral list to help find a reputable lawyer.
Online rating directories offer insights into the lawyer’s practice and reputation. Typically, these ratings are objective assessments of their standing and skills. These resources often present educational and biographical details, any disciplinary actions from the state bar, peer reviews, and client testimonials.
Examining Attorney Websites and Social Media Presence
It can also be advantageous to explore attorney websites, Google ratings, and reviews, as well as their presence on social media platforms. These sources can provide information on their office location, the types of cases they handle, and a general sense of their approach to handling injury claims.
You can also peruse reviews from former clients on their websites or social media profiles. However, do not rely solely on them when making your hiring decision. Paid reviews or endorsements from acquaintances trying to assist them might skew what you find.
After receiving recommendations and thoroughly assessing each attorney, narrow down your list to lawyers you feel comfortable hiring.
Comparing Potential Drunk Driving Accident Attorneys
As you move forward in selecting the right attorney, conduct a thorough comparison. However, some aspects should not overly influence your decision-making.
While an attorney needs a law degree and the state bar must admit them to practice law, specific details like their class rank or alma mater shouldn’t overshadow their effectiveness as a lawyer.
Practical skills, such as proficient negotiation abilities and a track record of securing substantial settlements, often outweigh academic credentials. Prioritize real-world accomplishments over where someone went to law school or how they compared to their classmates.
A lawyer’s office setting, whether a modern high-rise or an older building, is ultimately secondary to their ability to achieve the desired case outcomes. The luxury of their workspace shouldn’t determine your decision. Instead, focus on their legal insight, organizational proficiency, and financial stability, which better indicate their capabilities.
Length of Legal Experience
Both newly licensed attorneys and seasoned veterans have their respective advantages. A less experienced lawyer may offer a fresh perspective and have ample time, motivation, and resources to dedicate to your case. They are often eager to establish themselves and provide dedicated service.
Conversely, a more seasoned attorney may have a wealth of experience and established relationships with insurance adjusters. However, they may also have a busier caseload, potentially affecting availability and even their motivation.
Depending on the nature of your injuries, consider the attorney’s financial resources. Complex and costly cases, such as those involving traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) or spinal cord injuries (SCIs), necessitate significant financial resources.
Attorneys handling such cases must be ready to front expenses for specialists like medical experts and actuarial accountants. While you can typically recoup these costs upon successfully settling a claim, the attorney must initially cover them.
An attorney lacking the financial capacity to secure necessary specialists may hinder the success of their client’s claim.
Schedule a Complimentary Consultation
At this point in your search, you should have narrowed down your list to just a couple of potential attorneys. The next crucial step is to schedule a face-to-face meeting.
A consultation provides an invaluable opportunity to gain insight into their approach, practice, and how they intend to handle your case. Most attorneys offer complimentary initial consultations, and you can contact their office via phone or email to set up an appointment.
Remember to bring any pertinent documentation related to your claim for the meeting. To make the most of this consultation, prepare a list of your questions or concerns in advance.
If you consider specific details about your personal injury claim crucial, address them during the meeting. This way, nothing significant will slip through the cracks.
Questions to ask a potential Centennial personal injury attorney:
- How do you get paid? Do you work on contingency fees?
- Who will work on my case? Will it be you personally or junior attorneys or paralegals?
- What is my case worth?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses in my case?
- How long do you think it will take to settle my case?
- Is my case likely to go to trial?
- How do you handle client communications and case updates?