More than 2,300 attorneys in Alaska want your business. So how do you determine which is going to offer you the best chance at success? It starts with that first conversation, where you can gauge an attorney’s personality, knowledge and experience.
As soon as possible after you are hurt, you should seek out an attorney for Accident Claims Advice. Here, you will likely learn about certain time deadlines, including Alaska’s statute of limitations, which requires all lawsuits for personal injuries to be commenced within 2 years from the date of incident or, at least, 2 years from the date you discovered your injuries. This 2-year limitation also applies to property damage claims.
You will also likely learn about the various stages of a lawsuit, from intake, where the attorney learns as much about the potential claim as you can tell him. Next, further facts will be gathered through medical records and incident reports. The next step is to draft, file and then serve the complaint on the other side. Following that will be a long period of “discovery” where information is exchanged through written demands and depositions, where each attorney asks questions of the opposing person involved in the lawsuit.
At any time during this process, the parties can negotiation a resolution of the case, known as a “settlement,” where an agreement is reached so that neither party runs the risk of a trial.
If no settlement is achieved, there will be a trial, where the parties are questioned, followed by witnesses and expert witnesses, so that a judge or jury can learn as much as possible in order to make an informed decision as to what, if any, award should be given, to whom, and how much the payment should be.
The key to a good attorney throughout the trial is to present your story in such a way to demonstrate that you were severely injured and the incident was entirely the other party’s fault. The opposing attorney will do the opposite—try to show you were barely injured and you contributed to it happening. If he is successful, any award will be reduced by a percentage equivalent to the amount a judge or jury believes you are responsible for.
The other reasons you want to ascertain early on whether your attorney will be strong at trial is because it will often help lead to a quicker and better settlement. If your attorney demonstrates the ability to be a good trial attorney, the other side will be less apt to want to risk being liable for a larger award at trial.
Believe it or not, by asking the right questions, all of these factors can be learned at that first meeting. It is therefore imperative to seek accident claim advice before you ultimately retain an attorney for your accident claim.