Yes, but most times it is in your best interest to hire a local car accident attorney. When someone else causes a car accident, and you suffer injuries, seeking compensation for your losses can be complicated and intimidating. The compensation you will receive usually comes from the at-fault driver’s auto insurance coverage and that requires working with an insurance company and their representatives. Many people assume that getting a proper settlement should be straightforward - after all, you have injuries, and the person who caused them should pay for them, right? Getting a settlement for a car accident is rarely that simple. Insurance companies are ready to reduce - or deny - your payout whenever possible. Adjusters have specific training to protect the company’s bottom line by minimizing settlements, and they have many tactics they use. Fortunately, you can receive the full settlement you need - and the likelihood you will do so increases if you hire a car accident lawyer. Too many people end up with an inadequate settlement - or no settlement - because they tried to navigate the insurance process alone. However, once a lawyer handles your claim, you have a better chance of receiving a favorable car accident settlement - often in a shorter time.
Why having a lawyer helps with the car accident settlement processBelow are some reasons why you would benefit from a lawyer handling your car accident insurance claim. To discuss your specific case and how a car accident law firm can help, reach out for a free consultation with an experienced attorney in your area.
#1. Communicating with insurance adjustersAfter a crash, the other driver should report the accident to their insurance company (and you should as well). An insurance representative will likely reach out to you shortly afterward, and the risks of jeopardizing your settlement begin here. Adjusters try to get injured accident victims to say something the adjuster can use to limit settlements. You might not know you said anything wrong, but the adjuster now has information to lower your settlement offer. For example, if the adjuster asks how you are doing, and you politely answer that you are “fine” out of habit, the adjuster notes that you feel fine. They can use this to challenge the pain and suffering you claim from your injuries. You likely never imagined that you said anything wrong, but the notes on your claim file state otherwise. If you have a car accident lawyer handling all communications, you eliminate the risk that an offhand comment will affect your settlement. If an insurance adjuster reaches out, politely tell them you will have your car accident attorney return their call and handle communications moving forward.
#2. Proving your claimYou might know that the other driver caused the accident and your injuries, but the insurance company certainly will not take your word for it. One way adjusters limit payouts is by challenging the liability of their policyholder. The insurance company will often require substantial evidence of driver negligence, such as violating traffic laws, and without the right legal help, you may never gather this evidence. Further, the insurance company will not accept your description of your injuries as proof that you suffered losses. You need to present in-depth evidence of your injuries and related costs to justify the compensation you seek. Many people present inadequate evidence, which can cause delays, denials, or reduced offers While you focus on keeping up with your medical treatment and your physical recovery, allow a trusted car accident attorney to gather all information necessary to prove your claim from the start.
#3. Calculating your claim valueAnother reason unrepresented car accident victims routinely end up with lower settlements is that they often underestimate the value of their losses. If you seek compensation for your injury-related losses, you might present your medical bills and hope the insurer covers them. If you missed work due to your injuries, you might ask for the wages you lost during that time off. The above are only obvious losses from a car accident injury, however the law allows you to seek compensation for:
- The estimated costs of future medical treatment you need that will occur after the settlement
- The future income you will likely lose if you must miss work following the claim settlement
- Intangible losses, which include pain, suffering and emotional distress
#4. Settlement negotiationsWhen was the last time you negotiated with insurance professionals playing hardball? For most people, the answer is never. Insurance adjusters negotiate settlements every day, so you want the same level of experience behind your claim. If you do not have representation, an adjuster will often make a quick offer right out of the gate. You might think the offer seems reasonable, and resolving the claim quickly can seem beneficial. Accepting this first offer without any negotiation is usually a huge mistake. Insurance adjusters hope you will accept an offer that is lower than you deserve, knowing you do not have legal counsel. Once you accept too little, you must pay any uncovered losses, and you cannot seek more for your injuries. Never accept an offer without speaking to a lawyer first. A car accident attorney will advise when an offer is too low, and they know how to negotiate for the amount you deserve. Often, even having a lawyer from the start will prevent insultingly low settlement offers from the insurance company.
The risks of not having a car accident lawyer for your settlementIf you do not have an attorney, you risk:
- Accepting a settlement that is far lower than is appropriate
- Wasting precious time and energy communicating with adjusters and trying to gather information
- Experiencing claim delays
- Having the adjuster deny your claim altogether