Around three million people in the U.S. are injured every year due to car accidents. Many of these accidents were caused by the carelessness or recklessness of another roadway user, which will allow the victim to seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of their injuries through the at-fault party’s auto liability insurance policy. However, individuals often hesitate when considering hiring a lawyer to help them with their claim, as they ponder whether their injuries are serious enough to warrant legal help.
If you have been injured in a car accident and you are unsure of whether it is worth it to get a lawyer to help you pursue compensation, read on for reasons why you need a lawyer. Then contact The Levin Firm for a free case evaluation where you can obtain answers to the legal questions you have about your case.
5 Reasons Why You Need a Lawyer After a Car Accident
The vast majority of car accidents result from human errors, such as driving while distracted, impaired, or fatigued, driving too fast for the conditions of the road, or failing to yield the right-of-way in accordance with state traffic laws. However, there are many other factors that can also lead to a crash occurring, such as poor visibility or inclement weather conditions, or even vehicle or road defects.
When determining who is liable (legally responsible) for the expenses and impacts of your injury, a lawyer will look at all facets of the case to ensure that all sources of liability have been identified, along with all of their associated insurance policies that can provide the money for your compensation. Here is a look at five more reasons why getting a lawyer after a car accident is worth it.
1. The Value of Your Claim
While most people have a basic understand of the type of expenses you can seek to recover through a personal injury claim, such as medical expenses, damage to their vehicle, and loss of income for the days they were too injured to work. However, this is only part of the compensation that can be available after a car accident.
Personal injury claimants are permitted to also seek compensation for the impacts their injury has had on their quality of life, including:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of the enjoyment of life
Further, many personal injury claimants do not realize that they can also seek compensation for the expenses and impacts of their injury that they will likely incur in the future.
An experienced car accident lawyer understands the type of compensation that is available through a personal injury claim and will value your claim accordingly. If you fail to ask to be compensated for a certain type of loss or harm, you can be sure the insurance company will not offer that compensation, so it is important to have your claim properly valued.
2. The Tactics That Insurance Companies Use to Avoid Paying on Claims
The societal cost of car accidents in the U.S. is around $1 trillion a year, with private insurance companies footing about half of that bill in payouts on injury and property damage claims.
Another reason a lawyer is worth your while after being injured in a car accident is because insurance companies aren’t in the business to pay out on claims for the expenses and impacts of injuries caused by their insured. They are in the business to make money, and they can do that by paying as little as possible on claims.
When your lawyer presents your demand to the insurance company, an insurance adjuster will investigate the claim and look for reasons to deny or reduce that.
To do this, they often resort to a number of tactics, such as:
- Convincing an injured person to accept a settlement without having an attorney assist them in understanding whether the settlement offer is enough to fully compensate the injuries.
- Telling a claimant that there is no money available for their claim when there is.
- Convincing a claimant to authorize the full release of their medical records to the insurance adjuster, who will then analyze the records in search of a pre-existing injury, which could reduce or eliminate the claim.
An experienced car accident attorney will not only help you understand how your case is valued, but will also manage communication with the insurance company to prevent your claim from falling victim to their tactics.
3. The Difficulty of the Legal Process
If you incurred an injury that required you to have surgery, would you perform the procedure on your own, or would you hire an experienced physician to provide the surgery for you?
Obviously, you would hire a physician, as they have the education and training necessary to do the work properly and without causing additional problems. Yet many people who did not think twice about seeking medical attention for their injuries from competent physicians hesitate when it is suggested that they hire a competent and experienced lawyer to help them obtain compensation to pay for those injuries.
The third reason for hiring a lawyer is that the legal process is complicated. Consider that your attorney spent at least seven years in school, obtaining the education required to obtain a law degree.
From there, they began working in their chosen practice areas and learning the day-in-day-out of assisting the injured. They understand that deadlines and other formalities constrain the process, and they know the proper methods for obtaining evidence needed to prove your claim and negotiating your settlement. What’s more, your attorney has the benefit of a legal team to help do the legwork involved in your claim to provide you the best opportunity for compensation.
Is it possible to perform these services on your own? With many hours of research, perhaps. However, you will likely need a lot of time and few interruptions as you put years of learning into the situation.
4. Negotiating Settlements
Movie and television portrayals of legal battles almost always feature these battles taking place in a courtroom. In reality, only about 4 to 5 percent of all personal injury lawsuits go to trial. Most resolve through trial by settlement. A settlement agreement is an out-of-court agreement in which the claimant agrees to an offered amount of compensation in exchange for dropping their legal claim against the at-fault party’s insurance policy.
The agreement is often the culmination of settlement negotiations that involve:
- Your attorney submitting a demand package on your behalf, providing details and documentation of the claim, and demanding payment for its full value. If the insurance adjuster does not choose to accept the claim and process it for payment or reject the claim and notify the claimant of the reason for the denial, they can instead make a settlement offer.
- Your attorney providing guidance to you about the value of your claim and the prospects of a higher offer so that you can decide whether to accept the settlement offered or instruct your attorney to make a counter-offer.
- Your attorney continuing to entertain settlement offers even after the case has been filed as a personal injury lawsuit in court. It is important to remember that a settlement offer can be made at any point before a decision has been reached by the court, meaning that the negotiation process can last a long time.
An experienced car accident attorney understands the rules that govern settlement negotiations, including the requirement that the insurance adjuster not make offers that are ridiculously low for the severity of the injury suffered and the reality that if a personal injury claimant outright rejects an offered settlement instead of making a counter-offer, the insurance company is not required to make another offer. Having an attorney can help you avoid mistakes during the settlement negotiation process that can damage your claim.
5. Collecting Your Claim
The main reason for automobile liability insurance is for the insured to protect their finances if they should cause an accident that results in injury or death. While it is possible to sue an uninsured individual and even obtain a judgment in your favor, the ability to collect on your claim can be impaired by the fact that many uninsured people cannot afford to compensate someone’s injury expenses out-of-pocket.
However your compensation is garnered either through a negotiated settlement or a court judgment, your attorney will assist you in collecting the money and can also assist in paying some of your injury-related expenses with that compensation, as agreed to when you hire them.
Without a lawyer, you will be on your own in seeking payment on the claim, whether through the at-fault party’s insurance company or the at-fault party themselves. Do you know how to legally collect a debt? Your attorney does.
Can You Afford a Car Accident Lawyer?
One of the most common excuses given by personal injury claimants who choose to seek compensation without hiring a lawyer is that they can’t afford to hire one. They often realize that this is a costly mistake when they understand how the services of a personal injury lawyer are billed and how much assistance an attorney actually provides to their clients in obtaining compensation for their injuries.
Many types of lawyers require a retainer to begin working on a case and then bill their clients on an hourly basis. This is likely why people believe they cannot afford a personal injury lawyer. However, most personal injury lawyers use a contingent fee billing method.
This means that the client can withhold payment for their lawyer’s services until there has been a positive outcome to the claim through either a negotiated settlement or a court award. If the claimant does not receive compensation, then their lawyer also does not get paid. If a settlement or award is garnered for the claim, then the attorney receives a percentage of that award as payment for their services.
There are several benefits for both the attorney and the client to using a contingent fee billing method, including:
- The ability for the claimant to get legal assistance in their personal injury claim without needing to raise and provide a large sum of money upfront.
- The ability for the legal team to begin working on the case and continue working on the case without worrying about whether the client has paid their retainer or kept up with hourly bills.
- Additional inspiration for the legal team to work toward a resolution, as they do not get paid until that resolution is reached. Likewise, the legal team is going to be motivated to seek as high an amount of compensation for their client as possible.
The services an attorney can provide in exchange for a contingent fee agreement include:
- Valuing the claim
- Determining liability
- Negotiating a settlement
- Filing the claim in court
- Gathering evidence and testimony to prove the claim
- Litigation services
- Collection of the settlement or award
- Continued representation if the claimant appeals the award.
- Guidance for you throughout the process so that you can make informed decisions about your case.
With the ability to provide specialized, professional legal services without an upfront investment from you, the question becomes less a matter of whether it is worth it to hire a lawyer and more a matter of: Can you afford not to?
If a car accident injured you, let an experienced lawyer give you your free case evaluation.