After suffering injuries in a car accident, do you really need a lawyer? When do you need to call in a lawyer? Many people, following a car accident, wonder if a lawyer can help them.
What exactly do car accident lawyers do, anyway?
Take a look at these basic functions of a car accident lawyer and how they can help ease the process of filing a personal injury claim following a car accident. A lawyer can help you with every step of the car accident claim process, making it easier and less stressful for you and increasing the odds that you will recover the compensation you really deserve.
1. A lawyer will start by looking over the details of your claim and assessing both your right to compensation and how much compensation you may deserve.
While car accidents occur every day across the nation, the average individual does not get into serious car accidents all that often. Serious accidents occur even more rarely.
Unfortunately, that means that many people have no idea how much compensation they might deserve following a serious car accident, and they may not know how to go about recovering it.
A lawyer will break down the potential causes of the accident and the losses you faced, then give you more information about your rights.
Do you have the right to compensation for your car accident injuries? If the other person caused the accident or a majority of it, you may recover compensation for your injuries. A lawyer can also look at whether outside factors, like an employer with excessively demanding or dangerous policies, may have contributed to the accident, which could increase the compensation you might have the right to recover.
Next, a lawyer can break down the compensation you actually deserve for the injuries you sustained in your car accident. Often, those damages may rise higher than you think-and the insurance company that covers the liable driver may not automatically provide you with a compensation offer that reflects the damages you sustained in the accident.
You might get a settlement offer that reflects only a small percentage of your actual damages-and the insurance company might even heavily pressure you to accept it. (Hint: you do not have to take a low settlement offer.
A lawyer will look at your actual losses, including your medical bills, your lost wages, and the pain and suffering you faced following your car accident, and provide you with an assessment of the compensation you might deserve. A lawyer cannot guarantee the compensation you will recover but can provide you with a much more comprehensive look at what to expect as you move forward with your claim.
2. A lawyer can investigate your entire accident, including all the factors that might have contributed to it.
Frequently, a lawyer has a much easier time investigating your accident than you would have if you attempted to handle the investigation on your own. A lawyer often has access to information sources that you might not have access to on your own. A lawyer may also recognize potential avenues of investigation that you might not consider on your own.
Some car accident claims can prove much more complex than others. If you get into an accident with a commercial driver on the clock at the time of the accident, for example, your lawyer may have to go through a lot more information: the driver’s logbooks, the company responsible for the cargo and/or loading the vehicle, and the policies held by the driver’s company, for example. In many cases, your lawyer may have better access to that information-and a better idea of exactly what to look for.
A lawyer can also help talk with witnesses and establish witness testimony, look for any video footage of the accident, or check out the damage to the vehicles to help determine who likely caused the accident.
3. Lawyers can provide access to expert witnesses they may have worked with before.
Sometimes, you may need an expert witness to help establish what led to your accident and your grounds for compensation. Suppose, for example, that the other driver caused the accident due to distraction, but that driver denies liability for the accident. An expert witness can take a look at the damage to the two vehicles and the scene of the accident and, in many cases, recreate the scene of the accident.
You may also need an expert witness to help you establish the full extent of your injuries and the compensation that you may deserve as a result. Sometimes, insurance companies will deny coverage because it believes you did not sustain the injuries you claimed during the accident, or that you do not need the treatments you have undergone.
A lawyer can connect you with an expert witness who can help establish that your injuries did take place during the car accident and that you did need all the treatments you claim to make as full a recovery as possible from your accident.
Sometimes, expert witnesses can serve as vital support to a personal injury claim, especially if your claim needs to go to court. Working with a known expert, including one the lawyer may have worked with in the past, can make it much easier to build your case and establish your full grounds for compensation.
4. A lawyer can help build your claim.
Filing a personal injury claim after a car accident may not look as straightforward as you think.
If you have a car accident that simply involves damage to your vehicle, you will take your vehicle to a shop approved by the insurance company and ask for an estimate regarding the cost of repairs. In most cases, the insurance company will approve the repairs needed to get your vehicle back to its former state.
The insurance company can either pay you, or it can pay the repair shop directly. In either case, your claim will usually proceed fairly smoothly. If you use a repair shop approved by the insurance company, the insurance company probably will not dispute the cost of repairs to your vehicle.
Of course, if the insurance company does dispute the cost, you may need a lawyer to work with you to establish your right to have your vehicle repaired at the shop of your choice. In most cases, however, the insurance company will quickly take care of your claim.
A personal injury claim from a car accident, on the other hand, may look very different.
An initial settlement offer from the insurance company usually reflects only a small percentage of the financial challenges you have faced as a direct result of the accident, even if you have submitted a report detailing the losses you have faced and the compensation you expect. The insurance company may only gradually increase that settlement offer. In some cases, you may even find yourself struggling to get the insurance company to acknowledge the full compensation you deserve for your injuries.
A lawyer can help build your claim in a way that increases your odds of getting the compensation you deserve, whether the offer comes from the insurance company directly or you have to go to court to establish the full compensation you really deserve.
A compelling claim lays out evidence regarding who caused your accident, what factors may have contributed to the accident, and all the factors that contributed to the compensation you have asked for. It lays out your actual medical expenses, including everything from the cost of emergency treatment to the potential cost of long-term care following your accident. The claim will help increase the odds that you can recover the full compensation you deserve for your injuries-and in many cases, having a lawyer on your side will increase the compensation the insurance company offers.
5. A lawyer can deal with the insurance company on your behalf.
Dealing with the insurance company after a car accident can involve a great deal of stress. You may try your best to minimize those stress levels, but ultimately, you may find that every time you talk to the insurance adjuster, it raises your blood pressure and leaves you struggling to keep your cool.
The adjuster calls with a settlement offer that does not reflect the losses you faced because of your accident.
You wonder if everything you say to the insurance adjuster can act against you later, whether you discuss your recovery or your weekend plans or just go over your statement about the car accident again.
You feel as though you have to fight an uphill battle just to get the insurance company to acknowledge that you deserve compensation for the severe injuries you suffered in the accident.
Sound familiar? If you have dealt with the insurance company on your own after the accident at all, you may recognize these challenges and more. A lawyer, on the other hand, can take over dealing with the insurance company on your behalf, which can spare you that stress and frustration.
Decrease the worry that you will say the wrong thing.
Your lawyer may advise you that the insurance company will try to catch you saying something that could decrease the company’s financial liability. For example, the insurance adjuster might use a statement about what you did over the weekend to prove that you do not suffer the limitations you claimed from your accident or that your accident has not caused you immense emotional distress.
Even a statement about your healing progress can work against you. “How are you?” sounds like a common enough question, especially following a severe accident. However, you may worry that, coming from an insurance agent, it means something much more ominous-and you may worry about every interaction as a result. A lawyer, on the other hand, can take over those interactions for you, decreasing the risk that you will say the wrong thing.
Let your lawyer deal with unrealistic settlement offers.
You may have to go through several rounds of negotiation with the insurance company before you reach a reasonable settlement offer that reflects your losses and needs. You may feel incredibly frustrated dealing with those low offers.
Your lawyer, however, will generally get much less frustrated by those offers and can handle them more efficiently. You may never even have to hear about those offers, especially if you make it clear to your lawyer that you will not accept a low settlement number.
6. A lawyer can represent you if your claim has to go to court.
Most of the time, car accident claims settle out of court. Taking a claim to court means increased legal costs for the insurance company, and the insurance company will usually try to reach a settlement agreement rather than incurring those costs.
However, sometimes, you may have to go to court, especially if:
- The insurance company disputes liability for the accident.
- The insurance company disputes the extent of your injuries.
- You suffered severe injuries and must, as a result, ask for substantial compensation.
A lawyer can help make it easier to navigate the process of taking your claim to court. Not only can a lawyer provide you with vital information about what to expect as you manage the legal aspects of your claim, but a lawyer can also present your claim to the court in a clear, compelling way that establishes exactly why you deserve the compensation you asked for.