Have you been injured on the roadway because another driver was negligent? If so, an experienced car accident lawyer can be a trusted ally, an astute financial advisor and your new best friend.
I Can’t Afford a Car Accident Lawyer
Many drivers don’t realize that car accident lawyers work on a contingency basis. In other words, you only pay the lawyer if you win your case.
Injured drivers without legal representation routinely receive low settlement amounts that don’t even cover all their damages. On the other hand, injured motorists with legal representation routinely receive higher settlement amounts than drivers who are not represented.
Personal injury lawyers accept cases based on the probability of winning. If a car accident lawyer takes your case, there’s a good chance that it will be resolved equitably.
How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help Me?
An experienced attorney can handle all aspects your case from initial consultation to jury trial. Here’s a short list of what a lawyer can do for you:
- Determine fault in an accident
- Collect and organize medical bills and records
- Ensure that health care professionals submit all relevant documents
- Compile evidence of liability to substantiate your claim
- Work with the claims adjuster
- Negotiate reductions with lienholders
- Negotiate the final settlement amount
Collect evidence of liability
Amassing all the medical records and bills required to substantiate an auto accident claim is no small feat. Unfortunately, providing medical records for lawyers and patients is a low priority for health care workers. Your lawyer can ensure that all essential documentation arrives in a timely fashion.
Your lawyer may personally inspect the crash site and review the relevant accident and police reports. They might take statements from the investigating police officers and from any eyewitnesses.
Health care professionals sometimes unintentionally omit crucial information from the patient notes. In such cases, your lawyer will contact the medical professional personally and request a special letter.
The letter should clearly state that in the doctor’s opinion, your injury was caused by the accident. As a result, you will be unable to work for a certain amount of time.
To prove your case, you must present substantial medical evidence that clearly supports your claim. Your evidence must show beyond any doubt that your injury, disability or limitation was directly caused by the defendant’s negligence.
Work with the insurance claims adjuster
When it comes to car wrecks, the insurance adjuster is king. Always be nice to the claims adjusters because they control the purse strings.
Claims adjusters work for the other driver’s insurance company. Their job is to assess a claim fairly and to determine its true worth. Nevertheless, claims adjusters still work for insurance companies, and that is where their loyalties ultimately reside.
In certain situations, your lawyer might recommend hiring an independent claims adjuster whose loyalty is to you.
Lawyers who consistently win high settlements for their clients are likely to have good relationships with adjusters based on years of working together and open lines of communication.
Negotiate with lienholders
If you receive benefits from a health, disability or workers’ compensation insurer, it will place a lien on your claim. Your lawyer will work with any lienholders to reduce the lien amounts as much as possible. Lienholders are paid first, and the money comes straight off the top of your settlement.
Act as your advocate
Vehicle accident attorneys wear many different hats, and advocating on your behalf may be the most important hat of all. Your attorney is ethically required to act in accordance with your best interests during all phases of a claims process.
Can I File My Own Car Accident Claim?
Yes. But why? Car accident lawyers only get paid if you do. You owe your lawyer nothing unless you win your case, and you are more likely to win if an experienced lawyer represents you.
If you file your own claim, you will have to cover your legal expenses out-of-pocket, and you won’t get a refund if you lose your case.
Insurance companies employ high-powered individuals who specialize in saving money on accident claims. These smooth operators will try to convince you that your case isn’t worth much or that you only qualify for a minimal settlement.
Auto accident lawyers know what an injury claim is worth. They’re not intimidated by fast-talking insurance agents, and they know the difference between a fair settlement and highway robbery.
Negligence Rules and the Statue of Limitations
Under the statute of imitations, you can file a vehicle accident claim within two years of the date of the accident. If you fail to file within the two-year limit, you’ll lose your right to take the matter to court. Your lawyer can advise you about your state’s statute.
The percentage of fault assigned in an accident case involving negligence differs from state to state. In one state, the plaintiff could recover almost 100% of their damages. In another state, the plaintiff may not recover even 1%.
Twelve states follow the 50% rule. Injured parties can only recover damages if their negligence was 50% or less. Twenty-one states abide by the 51% rule. Injured parties can only recover damages if their negligence did not reach 51%.
Damages are then divided according to the assigned percentage of fault. Your lawyer can explain how these negligence percentages can impact your case.
But What If a Claim Isn’t Settled?
Your lawyer will try to negotiate a fair settlement agreement based on the evidence. They may send a settlement demand letter to the insurance company lawyers.
If you’re unable to settle your car accident case out of court, your attorney can file the required paperwork to proceed to trial. Going to court is usually unnecessary. Nevertheless, the threat of legal action can be strong leverage when attempting to bring about a fair settlement.