Have you recently been in an auto accident? One of the first things you come to understand after an accident is how expensive and disruptive the aftermath is for the lives of the victims. This is especially true if you sustained a severe injury in the accident or if your vehicle was significantly damaged.
Confronted with physical recovery, medical bills, vehicle repair bills, and insurance matters, many accident victims feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to proceed. On top of everything else, victims face the question of whether they should retain a car accident attorney to represent them—which they almost always should. Read on to learn more about what to do following a car crash.
If Liability Is Contested
Once an insurance company for a responsible driver receives the notification of a car accident, their attorneys and adjusters often begin working on the claim immediately. In some cases, liability is so clear that it will not be contested; the at-fault driver’s insurance company will accept liability, leaving the amount of compensation to be paid the only matter needing to be resolved. However, in many cases, the negligent driver’s insurance company will contest liability or suggest that you may be partially at fault for the accident. In either case, it’s a good idea to contact an attorney as soon as possible.
When You Sustain an Injury
Suppose you suffer a permanent injury or medical condition as a result of the car accident. In that case, you are likely to incur significant expenses for medical treatment and require assistance the rest of your life. These expenses may include surgeries and hospitalizations related to your injury. Additionally, serious injury cases also typically result in substantial wage loss and decline in your earnings potential.
Even if your injury is not permanent, you may seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and emotional distress. An auto accident attorney can help secure this compensation on your behalf. An experienced lawyer can help you protect your legal rights and pursue monetary compensation for any damages.
When You Need to Repair Significant Car Damage
If you are involved in a minor fender bender, it’s unlikely you need legal representation to get your car fixed. When significant damage to your vehicle results following a car accident, sometimes insurance companies balk at paying adequate repair costs. Instead, they may attempt to “nickel and dime” the necessary costs of auto repair. Having an attorney in your corner shows insurers you are serious about repairing your vehicle properly . Car accident attorneys have the training and experience to spot when an insurance company’s estimates don’t add up.
When Someone Else Is at Fault
Just as an attorney can protect you from unnecessarily incurring liability, a lawyer can also demonstrate that the other driver was at fault. Proving another party is at fault for a collision is necessary if you wish to recover compensation. To do so, you’ll need to procure as much evidence as you can to find, including things like witness statements and, if available, video of the incident.
Similarly, if a fair out-of-court settlement cannot be achieved, you’ll need evidence to prove your case in court. Car accident attorneys can help you gather critical evidence, giving you one less thing to worry about.
The Other Driver’s Insurance Company Is Low-Balling You
More often than not, the initial offer from the at-fault driver’s insurance company is too low to cover your past and future damages. Some insurance companies may not extend a settlement offer at all. An experienced attorney is a real asset when the insurance company’s settlement offer is insufficient or non-existent.
As a victim, you should keep in mind that insurance companies make money by paying out as little as possible. As a result, it’s a good idea to at least consult with a lawyer after any accident, large or small. Accident attorneys possess a thorough understanding of the costs of the vehicle repairs, medical expenses and case value to make sure you are fully compensated. If you feel the insurance company is trying to take advantage of you with an unfair offer, you should immediately obtain legal representation to level the playing field. It is preferable to consult with an attorney before having any communication with the at-fault party’s insurer.
An Attorney Can Help You Understand How Much Your Case is Worth
Many insurance companies rely on the general public’s lack of knowledge when it comes to car accident compensation. However, a lawyer will be very familiar with the wide array of damages to which you are entitled. For example, your medical damages include more than just doctor visits and surgeries.
You may also claim expenses for:
- Physical therapy
- Cognitive therapy
- In-home assistance
- Ambulance bills
- Pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Lost companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Emotional distress
A car accident attorney can review your case and inform you of all the qualifying damages.
When You Want to File a Lawsuit
You may decide that suing the other party for compensation is your best option. However, be aware that the litigation process brings with it complex rules and deadlines that must be followed and met to pursue your case in court. Since law firms routinely file lawsuits in their profession, it makes sense to hire legal counsel to file your lawsuit and present your case in court.
Can I Represent Myself After a Car Accident?
Yes, you can represent yourself and try and settle your case or go to court with an insurance company after a car accident. You could also hit a hole-in-one on the golf course. In both cases, the possibility exists but it’s improbable that you’ll be successful.
Car accident attorneys have the experience and resources to obtain maximum payouts from insurance companies. They can determine the value of your claim and devise an effective strategy to receive the highest compensation possible. They can also identify all individuals and entities liable in your case, as well as gather all the pertinent evidence.
Furthermore, a skilled attorney is invaluable in negotiations with insurance companies. If the two sides cannot agree on a settlement, your lawyer can file a lawsuit on your behalf to fight for the compensation you deserve.