Is it worth getting a lawyer for a car accident? For many, it is worth getting a lawyer for a car accident case. Generally, car accident victims who choose to hire a lawyer end up with more compensation for their losses instead of accepting less when they handle cases themselves.
Car accident victims have varying reasons for hiring a lawyer, but there are many good reasons for hiring an attorney after an accident.
Why Car Accident Victims Turn to Lawyers for Help
Some of the common reasons why car accident victims get a lawyer include:
The Limitations That Injuries Impose on the Accident Victim
Car accident victims may hire a lawyer because they have substantial injuries that prevent them from:
- Handling their day-to-day responsibilities
- Operating at their usual physical and cognitive capacity
- Taking on additional stress
- Managing the many responsibilities that come with an insurance claim or lawsuit
Even if a car accident victim can complete their lawsuit or insurance claim without a lawyer’s help, doing so can cause additional hardship while trying to recover from serious injuries. By hiring a lawyer, a car accident victim can direct all their efforts towards recovery while the attorney handles the legal duties.
The Complicated Nature of Insurance Claims and Lawsuits
Insurance claims and lawsuits can be complicated, especially for the unfamiliar. Most car accident victims are not lawyers, so they do not regularly deal with claims or lawsuits.
Rather than trying to learn the intricacies of a claim or lawsuit, overcome unfamiliar challenges, and negotiate with experienced insurance companies or lawyers, many car accident victims instead hire a lawyer. An experienced personal injury lawyer will be familiar with the lawsuit or insurance claim process, so the process will be far less complicated for them.
The Threats That Accident Victims Face from Insurance Companies
If a car accident victim proceeds without a lawyer, they will have to deal directly with insurance companies, possibly the other parties’ attorneys, and any other parties involved in their case.
These parties may try to:
- Blame the car accident victim for the accident
- Deny the car accident victim compensation
- Have the car accident victim accept an unfairly low settlement offer
- Intimidate, deceive, or otherwise mistreat the car accident victim
Insurance companies deal with auto accident claims daily. Their representatives have a clear motivation to save their employer as much money as possible, which often means denying compensation to deserving car accident victims.
An attorney will pressure insurance companies to handle your claim in good faith. At the same time, your lawyer will ensure that hostile parties cannot violate your rights.
The Experience That an Attorney Provides
If you hire a lawyer specializing in car accident cases, they will have experience relevant to your case.
While experience does not guarantee they’ll succeed in your case, relevant experience may:
- Help your attorney complete your case efficiently and maximize value
- Allow your lawyer to anticipate challenges that may be relevant in your case
- Allow an attorney to make decisions based on prior experiences
The more someone engages in an activity, the more skilled they generally become. The same is generally true of car accident claims and lawsuits.
The Financial Resources That an Attorney and Their Firm Provides
If a car accident victim chooses not to hire a lawyer, all claim- and case-related expenses are theirs to pay.
Car accident lawyers generally offer to pay all the costs of a claim which often include:
- Filing fees
- Expert fees
- Investigation-related costs
- Other case-related expenses
Law firms agree to pay these expenses because the client agrees that if the case is successful, the law firm will receive a percentage of the winnings and be reimbursed the costs advanced. However, if the lawyer does not get compensation for the client, the client owes nothing to the law firm.
Additional Resources Law Firms Provides
Typically, a car accident victim does not just benefit from hiring the lawyer—they also are supported by all of the resources that the law firm offers.
In addition to an attorney, a your car accident law firm may also offer:
- Various other human and non-human resources
A law firm will not typically employ experts directly, but it should have a network of experts ready to assist with a car accident case. An expert may reconstruct the car accident, provide testimony to support the lawyer’s case, or assist in other ways
Do Lawyers Help With Minor Car Accident Cases?
Though some accidents cause less property damage and less serious injuries than others, even “minor” injuries can mushroom into more serious medical conditions. Knowing when a case is appropriate for legal representation is important and should be made with the help of a lawyer.
It may be worth hiring a lawyer even if you believe your accident was not serious. Even accidents where injuries are “possible” (as opposed to evident, disabling, or deadly) can cost tens of thousands of dollars.
It may be wise to err on the side of caution, hiring a lawyer in case injuries, property damage, and other damages prove more serious than you first believe. Conditions like whiplash may not show symptoms immediately after an accident, reinforcing why you should hire a lawyer even if you first believe the accident is minor.
If you know that you have suffered a significant injury or have lost a loved one, it is certainly worth considering hiring a lawyer.
How Does a Car Accident Victim Choose a Lawyer?
A car accident victim can use several criteria to evaluate prospective attorneys, including:
- Their practice areas: Car accident law firms have practice areas that tell you what kinds of cases they handle. Any law firm you hire should absolutely have car accidents as a primary practice area.
- Their case results: Many personal injury firms post case results on their website, and this is one criterion you can consider when looking for an attorney. If a law firm has multiple settlements and judgments of substantial size—particularly in cases like yours—you may consider this a credit to the firm.
- Their client testimonials: You can view client testimonials on a firm’s Google profile. Consider both the good and the bad reviews, as this will give you a realistic understanding of how the firm treats its clients.
- Their attorneys and support staff: While you may only need one capable attorney to lead your case, you may be attracted to a law firm with multiple attorneys. However, this may be a matter of preference.
Consultations are another way to evaluate law firms. These calls or meetings are most often free and are a time for you to ask questions of a law firm.
Some questions you might ask during a free consultation include:
- Why should I hire your law firm to lead my car accident case?
- What is your firm’s fee structure?
- Which attorney will you assign to my case?
- Will I have a direct line to my attorney?
- Will you take my case to trial if necessary?
- How long do you think it will take to resolve my case?
You can ask about the general process of an insurance claim or lawsuit, how the law firm will help you, and any specific questions you have about the firm.
How Can a Lawyer Help a Car Accident Victim?
An attorney can manage every aspect of your insurance claim or lawsuit. Some of the common responsibilities of personal injury lawyers include:
Establishing Liability for the Car Accident
Your lawyer will conduct an investigation into your car accident. As they gather facts and review evidence, your attorney will determine who is responsible and why.
Potentially liable parties include:
- A motorist: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) motorist actions are most often responsible for causing collisions. Speeding, tailgating, intoxicated driving, and distracted driving are common motorist behaviors that lead to accidents.
- A vehicle manufacturer: If a manufacturer defect caused your car accident, the liable manufacturer might owe you compensation.
- A municipality: Municipalities can be liable for an accident when dangerous roads, out-of-operation traffic lights, or other hazards within the city’s control cause accidents.
Your attorney will review all relevant details and identify every liable party in your case.
Your attorney will gather and preserve all evidence that can help you get compensation for your damages.
Such evidence may include:
- Witness accounts of the car accident
- A police report
- Video footage of the accident
- Statements made by the liable motorists or other liable parties
- Photographs of the accident scene and damaged vehicles
- Reconstructions of the accident
- Expert testimony about liability
The strength of evidence is a key factor in the outcome of your case. For this reason, your lawyer will search relentlessly for any evidence that will help your case.
Your attorney will collect the evidence proving your damages.
Useful documentation may include:
- Medical bills
- Medical records
- Proof of lost income
- Doctors’ diagnoses
- Mental health professionals’ testimony
- Your own accounts of damages
- Bills for vehicle repairs
A lawyer will seek as much documentation as they can get for each damage you’ve suffered.
Before an attorney can seek a fair settlement or judgment, they must know the reasonable value of their client’s damages. Calculating damages can be a difficult process, but it is common practice for personal injury lawyers.
For economic damages, your lawyer may simply add all of your costs to date (like medical bills, lost income, and temporary transportation expenses). If you are likely to suffer more economic damages in the future, your lawyer may work with experts to estimate the cost of those losses.
An attorney will also estimate the value of non-economic losses, with pain and suffering being the most common non-economic loss in car accident cases. There are multiple accepted methods for calculating these damages, and your lawyer may use the method that has worked for them in prior cases.
Negotiating a Settlement
A fair settlement may provide the ideal outcome to your car accident case because:
- Settling is generally the quickest resolution to a car accident case
- Once both sides agree to a settlement, the outcome of your case becomes certain
- Settlement negotiations cost less than a trial
- There is a possibility of losing if a case goes to trial
Most car accident cases settle before they go to court. So, while a trial is not statistically likely, your lawyer should be willing to take your case to court if necessary.
What Damages Will a Car Accident Lawyer Seek Money For?
Damages are a critical part of every car accident case.
Your attorney will identify and value each of your recoverable damages, which may include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Lost earning power
- Rehabilitation expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Treatment for psychological and emotional trauma
- Temporary transportation
- Vehicle repairs
Damages can vary greatly from one case to another. One car accident victim may lose far more income than another, while one victim’s medical bills may be far more costly than another. An attorney will evaluate your case based on the specific damages you’ve suffered.
What Is a Car Accident Case Worth?
The answer to this question varies from case to case. Because damages are unique to each client and accident, a lawyer must conduct a personalized review of your case to determine the extent of your damages.
Some factors that can affect the value of a victim’s damages:
- The severity of accident-related injuries
- The monetary cost of economic damages
- The nature and severity of a victim’s pain and suffering
If injuries are disabling, the victim may require lifelong medical care, be unable to earn a living, and suffer other long-term consequences of the accident. As a general rule, the more severe injuries are, the higher the damages will be.
Some car accidents are fatal. A lawyer can lead a wrongful death case if you have lost a loved one because of a car accident.
Call Attorneys Today to Seek Fair Compensation for Your Car Accident
Lawyers face a strict deadline if they need to file your case in civil court, so start making calls to local law firms as soon as possible. It is definitely worth it to have the right legal representation for your case.