A car accident lawyer is a legal professional who provides legal representation and advice to clients who have been injured in auto accidents. Hiring a car accident attorney can be beneficial if you have been in a car crash that resulted in property damage, injuries, or fatalities. Here is an overview of what car accident lawyers do and why you may need to hire one.
What Does a Car Accident Lawyer Do?
A car accident lawyer performs a variety of services for clients who have been involved in automobile crashes, including:
- Investigating the accident – The attorney will gather police reports, interview witnesses, collect photographic evidence, and reconstruct the scene of the accident to understand what happened.
- Evaluating liability – The lawyer will determine who was at fault and to what extent based on factors like traffic laws, adverse weather conditions, mechanical failures, and more.
- Negotiating with insurance companies – Car accident attorneys act as mediators between clients and insurers to obtain fair settlements and compensation for medical bills, lost wages, vehicle repairs, and other damages incurred.
- Filing claims and lawsuits – If a settlement cannot be reached, the attorney may file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver seeking compensation through the court system.
- Representing clients in court – If a case goes to trial, the car accident lawyer will advocate for the client and make their case in court.
When to Hire a Car Accident Attorney
Here are some instances when it is advisable to hire a car accident lawyer:
- You suffered severe injuries in the accident – Brain trauma, broken bones, internal bleeding, and other major injuries require experienced legal help to get full compensation.
- The insurance company is disputing your claim – If the insurer does not believe you are entitled to compensation or offers an inadequate settlement, a lawyer can negotiate on your behalf.
- Multiple parties were involved – When multiple vehicles and insurance companies are involved, the legal waters can get murky very quickly.
- You do not feel the settlement offer is fair – A lawyer can determine if the settlement being offered covers your financial losses from medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and other hardships.
- The accident resulted in a fatality – Wrongful death cases require compassionate and highly skilled legal guidance.
- You do not have insurance – Those without insurance need an attorney to make sure they receive compensation for injuries and vehicle damage.
Steps in a Car Accident Claim Process
- Seek medical attention – This step creates a record of your injuries and begins treatment.
- Report the accident – File a crash report with the police and your insurance provider as soon as possible.
- Document evidence – Take photos of property damage, skid marks, injuries, accident location, etc.
- Contact your insurer – Provide your insurer with accident details and cooperate with the investigation.
- Assess coverage and liability – Determine if you are covered, who was at fault, and what damages you incurred.
- Negotiate a settlement – Your insurer will make a settlement offer to cover damages. You can accept or dispute the offer.
- File a personal injury lawsuit – If negotiations fail, file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver seeking compensation.
- Engage in discovery – Your lawyer and the defendant’s lawyer will obtain evidence through depositions, subpoenas, medical exams, etc.
- Reach a settlement – Most cases settle out of court once evidence has been obtained and valued.
- Go to trial – If no settlement is reached, the case will go to trial where a judge or jury will determine compensation.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does a car accident lawyer cost?
Most car accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, taking a percentage (typically 30-40%) of the final settlement or court award if the case is won. There is no upfront payment required.
When should I hire a car accident attorney?
It’s best to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after a serious accident before you inadvertently compromise your legal rights. Many attorneys offer free consultations.
Can I handle a minor accident claim without an attorney?
It may be possible to settle a minor claim with your insurer yourself, but having a lawyer can almost always obtain a much larger settlement or court award.
How long do I have to file a car accident claim?
The statute of limitations for filing a claim is typically 2-6 years depending on your state. Evidence also deteriorates over time, so it’s best to act quickly.
Should I give a recorded statement to the insurance company?
It is not recommended to give a recorded statement without consulting a lawyer first. What you say can be used against you later. Politely decline to give a statement.
What if the accident was partially my fault?
Most states follow comparative negligence rules which allow you to recover damages proportional to your percentage of fault. An attorney can help reduce your liability.
What are common car accident injuries?
- Broken bones
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Internal bleeding
What damages can I recover in a car accident claim?
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Reduced earning capacity
- Property damage
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Wrongful death damages
Hiring an experienced car accident attorney is crucial after sustaining serious injuries or vehicle damage in an auto collision. A lawyer can investigate fault, negotiate optimal settlements, and file lawsuits if needed – ultimately getting you the maximum compensation you deserve. Consult with a car accident lawyer today for a free case review.