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Top Questions to Ask Your Car Accident Attorney in Newport Beach

By Tim Seavey on July 8, 2024

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If you are involved in a car accident caused by another party’s negligent or reckless actions, time is not on your side. If you plan on bringing the responsible party to court, the statute of limitations dictates that you have a limited window to initiate legal proceedings.

The first step in this process is to contact an injury attorney to have an initial review of your case started. Attorneys aren’t one-size-fits-all solutions, and much like finding a car mechanic that you trust, you may want to interview a variety of legal offices to see if they are a right fit for you and your needs.

If you’ve never been in an accident requiring legal services, chances are you don’t know what questions to ask to determine whether an attorney’s office is a good fit for you. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common starter questions we often hear from our clients and what kind of answers you can expect. 

1. How do you charge for your services, and what is your fee structure?

“How much is this going to cost me?” is usually the first question on every prospective client’s mind, and the idea of paying a mountain of legal fees is usually the primary reason people hesitate to reach out to an attorney. Thankfully, most clients pursuing a personal injury claim will not need to spend any of their own money until the day the case closes in their favor.

Most professional personal injury attorneys like Allen Flatt Ballidis & Leslie will use  a contingency fee structure for their services. This means that, as the client, you will not pay any legal fees unless the case is won, in which case the fees will be subtracted from the total damages paid to you.

During the initial meeting with your attorney, ask them about their fee structure. If they use a contingency fee structure, ask them what percentage of the damages they take as part of the agreement. Contingency agreements usually stipulate that the firm representing you gets anywhere from 20-40% of the damages awarded in court, with 33% being the most common.

If the law office gives you a number drastically different from this range, it may be time to move on. Many factors go into determining this percentage, so while a higher percentage may sound excessive, that firm may be able to win you more money overall if they are especially skilled.

2. What information do you need from me to proceed?

The quantity and quality of evidence are major factors in determining the success of any accident or personal injury case. Keeping careful records of the events directly before and after the accident and any medical expenses and procedures will drastically increase your odds of success.

Personal injury cases center around determining who is at fault for the events that transpired and the resulting costs. Proving liability (fault) helps determine who “wins” the legal suit, and the extent of damages (costs) determines the amount of money paid out.

This amount of information collection can quickly become overwhelming, and this is one of the major benefits of hiring a legal professional early on in the process. Your attorney and their team will handle the collection of all evidence, including medical bills, records, wage loss, and more. This allows victims to concentrate on their recovery rather than stressing how to best prepare for their case.

3. What kind of compensation can I expect to receive?

Personal injury damages are special in that they involve a combination of actual expenses and compensation for pain and suffering. The courts don’t have a set standard for compensation, which means that compensation is determined on a case-by-case basis.

Compensation is usually calculated by adding up three separate categories of damages: special, medical, and general.

Special damages are calculated using lost wages or earnings caused by the accident, damaged or destroyed property, and other out-of-pocket costs. Special damages can also include possible loss of future earnings, especially if it is determined that the injury prevents or delays promotion or forces you to get a lower-paying job.

Medical damages are a calculation of all medical expenses incurred by the accident. These damages include all past, present, and future medical procedures that will be needed because of the injuries sustained.

General damages are compensation requested for the pain and suffering caused by the accident. These damages account for the mental effects and anguish caused by the accident, and their subjectiveness can make it hard to determine an exact material cost.

During negotiations, the legal representatives of the opposing party or their insurance company will do their best to downplay the costs involved when determining damages. An experienced injury attorney is essential for determining the appropriate costs to use when calculating damages and getting you the compensation you’re entitled to.

4. What should I do to protect my rights and strengthen my case?

You should always assume that the other party will “pull all the stops” to downplay their responsibility in the accident and the damages involved. This means you will need to be as proactive as possible in the minutes following the event.

If possible, you or a person you trust should document the accident by taking pictures of the damage involved and giving a full account of your side of the story as soon as possible. If any witnesses come forward in the aftermath, take down their information, including names and phone numbers, to help you contact them later on in the process.

If the accident occurred in a populated area, getting surveillance footage from surrounding residences or businesses will also be very helpful in determining liability down the road. Providing all of this information to your legal representatives will help provide a greater degree of leverage for negotiations and, if necessary, provide evidence for your claims in court.

This can be a difficult process involving negotiating with businesses and personalities that are less than forthcoming with their surveillance footage. Enlisting the services of a personal injury law firm like AFB&L will give you access to their network of professional accident investigators who will gather this evidence for you at no additional cost.

5. What should I do if my health insurance denies coverage for treatment related to the accident?

Insurance companies are required when operating a vehicle to help offset medical and other costs associated with car and truck accidents. Unfortunately, as private businesses, they are heavily incentivized to use their substantial resources to avoid paying out claims as much as possible.

This often means denying claims that are perfectly within the bounds of an insurance policy for which the claimant has paid their hard-earned money. Fortunately, there is an appeal process, but many clients have found the process onerous and involved. Your PI attorney can assist you with the appeal process, significantly reducing the time and effort you need to expend getting the restitution you deserve.

Being involved in a car accident can be a severely disrupting life event, and you owe it to yourself to take the necessary steps to get back on your feet as quickly as possible. If you, or someone you know, are in an accident due to the negligence of others, contact our experienced injury attorneys at or call (949) 752-7474 for a free consultation.

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