Car accidents often cause a lot of concern and confusion. Initially, the situation might seem relatively simple. If someone else was at fault for the accident, you make a claim on their policy, collect a check, and move on with your life, right?
Unfortunately, this is often not the course for car accident victims. The representatives you speak to at the insurance company may seem genuinely concerned and willing to help you, but you may soon hit snags. There may be delays in getting your medical bills paid or reimbursement for the bills you paid out of pocket. The car insurance company may not agree with you regarding the value of your injuries or the damage that was done to your vehicle. Even worse, the other driver’s insurance company may try to blame you for the accident.
Do You Need an Attorney After a Car Accident?
It is highly advisable that anyone injured in a car accident consult with an attorney about their case. If you or someone you love was recently in a car accident that resulted in even minor injury, you will want an experienced car accident attorney to review your claim before you pursue it. An attorney can tell you whether you have a legal claim and what steps you can take to protect your rights.
How a Car Accident Attorney Can Help
Unless you have previously called on a lawyer after a car accident, you may not be fully aware of all the ways obtaining legal counsel can help you after an auto accident. There are many ways in which an attorney can help you after a car accident.
Guiding You Through the Process
Thankfully, most people do not have to file car accident claims frequently. However, not having much experience doing so can leave some people feeling unsure of what to do and even anxious about what will happen. An attorney can explain the process to you and let you know what to expect, answer your questions, and help alleviate your concerns. An experienced lawyer can also help you avoid common mistakes, such as settling for less than you deserve, signing unnecessary documents or discussing your case on social media.
Handling the Insurance Companies
Once a lawyer represents you, you no longer need to speak directly to the responsible driver’s insurance company, their attorneys, or the parties who caused your accident. Your lawyer will communicate with them on your behalf. This can relieve a significant amount of stress and help you avoid saying anything that could damage your case.
Determining Your Damages
The goal of a car accident claim is to be made whole. While no settlement or court award will erase the various damages you may have suffered, getting compensation for your damages can still go a long way towards getting your life back on the right track.
A lawyer can determine types of damages that may be available to you and how much you should receive. You could potentially receive economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those that compensate you for monetary losses like medical expenses and wage loss, while non-economic damages are more subjective and include things like pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement and emotional distress.
Potential damages you could claim in your auto accident case include:
- Past/Future medical expenses. Medical bills that you have or will incur in the future due to your car accident.
- Reduced earning capacity. If your injury affected your ability to do your work-related duties and earn a living on either a short-term or long-term basis.
- Lost wages. Time you had to be away from work while recovering from your auto accident injury or receiving medical care mean lost wages that you could receive compensation for.
- Pain and suffering. Injuries are painful and cause people’s lives to change which can often be the most damaging part of an auto accident.
- Scarring and disfigurement. If your accident left you with severe scarring or even the loss of a limb, you deserve compensation for living with the physical and emotional impairments.
- Punitive damages. If your attorney can show that the other driver was behaving recklessly or maliciously when they caused the accident, punitive damages may be available to you.
Negotiating a Settlement
In addition to ascertaining your damages, your attorney can negotiate with the other parties involved and their insurance companies to potentially reach an agreement regarding how much compensation you should receive for your injuries and other losses. Negotiating a fair settlement is a complicated process, and it’s highly advisable that you retain an attorney to negotiate on your behalf. You only get one chance to settle your case, so it’s critical that any settlement you accept adequately compensates you for your losses.
The majority of car accident cases settle pre-trial, but some do not. If your lawyer cannot obtain a fair settlement in your case through negotiations either before filing a lawsuit or during litigation before trial, they should be ready and willing to take your case to trial before a jury. The choice to pursue a claim, begin litigation or go to trial is up to you. Your attorney can provide you with sound advice as to whether you are offered a fair settlement, but you are the one who decides whether to accept it or not.
A Car Accident Attorney Can Protect Your Rights
When should you get an attorney after an accident? This answer will vary from one case to the next. It is best to reach out to one as soon as possible after your accident and let them determine whether you have a viable case that an attorney should handle.
It is recommended that you work with a lawyer to achieve the best outcome on your case. Your attorney can calculate the value of your claim, pursue the responsible party outside of court, and, if necessary, file a lawsuit and try your case in front of a judge or jury. A lawyer can address your questions or concerns and advise you as to your next steps, allowing you to focus on your recovery.
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