Car Accident Lawyer Careers
Becoming a lawyer who represents clients that are injured in car accidents is a popular area of practice. The high volume of car crashes provides car accident lawyers with a vast supply of potential clients. Lawyers who represent clients involved in a car accident are known as personal injury lawyers. That means they are well versed in the type of law considered personal injury law and all that it encompasses. The end result can be a very lucrative career as personal injury settlements often come with high payouts. Now is an opportunistic time to begin practicing law as a car accident attorney.
Car Accident Lawyer Education
There is a step-by-step education process to becoming a lawyer. This process typically lasts 7-8 years when completed on a full-time basis. Here is a look at what car accident attorneys will need to complete before they can begin practicing:
- Bachelor’s Degree
- Admission to Law School
- Juris Doctor Law Degree
- Passing of Bar Examination
The pathway to becoming a personal injury lawyer, who specializes in automobile accidents, begins with a bachelor’s degree. There is no specific major that needs to be taken in order to advance beyond the undergraduate level and into law school. However, a lot of aspiring lawyers wind up choosing undergraduate majors that prepare them for the rigorous workload ahead. That typically includes majoring in English, Economics, Political Science, Business, or History. Since there is a great deal of reading involved in law school, it is advantageous to get accustomed to a heavy workload of reading at the undergraduate level.
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There are also online programs available and a number of more specific majors to choose from. For those students who really want to get a head start, they can choose Legal Studies or Pre-Law as a major, in addition to other law-related majors. Criminal Justice is another preparatory tool that will help students in their transition to law school.
Once the undergraduate courses are completed, the next step is applying to an accredited Law School. This step involves taking and passing the LSAT (Law School Admission Test). This test is used in the admissions process by law schools. The LSAT score could be a determining factor in whether an applicant is accepted into law school. The test is mostly multiple choice and is offered seven times per year. There are four sections on the LSAT, which consist of reading comprehension, logical reasoning, analytical reasoning while a writing sample is also required.
Once accepted into a law school, students will undergo three years of rigorous academic coursework. These courses involve a wealth of reading and students must manage their time accordingly to get the necessary assignments completed.
Many law students also become involved with different law groups during their educational experience. Some programs require this type of experience of students in their later stages of law school.
When students are finished with law school, they must prepare to take the most difficult test they will face before becoming an attorney. In order to become a lawyer, the state Bar Exam must be passed. This exam covers all areas of the law and the specifics differ on a state-to-state basis.
Law schools are designed to teach the minimum standards needed to pass the bar which is administered by each state’s bar association. Some law schools have their curriculums approved by the American Bar Association. However, students do not need to attend one of these programs in order to sit for the Bar Exam. Moreover, attending an ABA-approved program does not guarantee students will pass the Bar Exam, which may be administered in the following formats:
- MBE (Multistate Bar Examination)
- MPT (Multistate Performance Test)
- MEE (Multistate Essay Examination)
- UBE (Uniform Bar Examination)
Job Description and Skills
A car accident attorney is responsible for first explaining the entire claims process to each individual client. Once that is accomplished, then the bulk of the work can begin. An auto accident will have a police report and different versions on behalf of the parties involved. But it is the responsibility of a car accident attorney to collect as much evidence as possible in support of his/her client. A car accident attorney will then conduct a thorough review of a client’s insurance policy to determine what kind of coverage will be paid out. It is also important to formally notify a client’s health insurance carrier of this claim.
Next comes the investigation part of the claim. This includes interviewing witnesses, taking photographs and examining the scene of the car crash. This will provide a car accident attorney with a wealth of legal details and also help in creating a specific strategy.
Filing an insurance claim is another important part of the process that is handled by a car accident lawyer. That is accompanied by the task of working with a health insurance carrier to determine the means of paying for treatment. This would also include the duty of contacting the opposing party’s insurance carrier.
Negotiations are another part of the process as insurance adjusters are quick to try and settle for nominal fees. It is up to a car accident attorney to advise a client on what is acceptable and what it’s not in terms of compensation. All these proceedings would precede a lawsuit. Only after these procedures have been completed would a car accident lawyer file a lawsuit that would result in a summons and complaint against a defendant. That begins a whole new part of the process which would include the following:
- Drafting of a written discovery
- Submission of interrogatories
- Bring on Experts to substantiate claim
- File documents for witnesses and evidence
- Participate in mediation
- Go to trial
- Submit post-trial motions
- Arrange for collections
It is important to note that no two auto accidents are the same, which means no two cases will be the same. That’s why it is important to have a car accident lawyer who is experienced and knowledgeable about all facets of this process. Car accident attorneys fall under the distinction of personal injury law and often represent clients who are involved in truck or motorcycle accidents as well. There are a lot of similarities ad the fact that they all fall under personal injury law allows car accident lawyers to diversify their cases.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median salary of a lawyer at $135,740 annually. The top-end lawyers earn up to $208,980 annually, although there are a lot of factors that go into the determination of that yearly amount. Location plays a significant part as does the size of a firm. Working for a private firm may also result in a much higher annual salary amount than working for a state or federal entity. The top five paying states for lawyers are as follows:
- District of Columbia – $226,510
- California – $201,530
- Massachusetts – $196,230
- New York – $188,900
- Connecticut – $174,520
Personal injury lawyers typically bring home salaries on the higher end of national averages. Car accident lawyers fall into this category. The American Bar Association conducted a study of personal injury lawyers working in small firms and concluded that their average salary for the year 2017 checked in at $237,000.
Annual salary averages for lawyers have been on the rise since 2010 and that kind of projection is expected to continue into the future. There are other factors that can go into determining the annual amount a car accident attorney will earn over the course of a year they are as follows:
- Experience in personal injury law
- Law Firm Affiliated or independent
- Client reviews
- Geographic location
- Commission percentage
Employment trends for personal injury lawyers are favorable in the United States. The anticipated growth for all lawyers over the next 10 years is estimated at close to 10%. The fact that there are a growing number of car accidents every year bodes well for those interested in becoming a car accident lawyer. The Insurance Information Institute reported that car crashes caused by speed amounted to damages of $40.4 billion per year. Another report indicated that approximately 2 million American drivers suffer some type of permanent injury every year as a result of a car crash. Those statistics indicate that personal injury lawsuits are going to continue to climb, which is promising for lawyers who represent injured motorists and passengers.
2022 US Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and employment figures for Lawyers reflect national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed April 2023.