Many people wonder whether it is worth hiring a car accident lawyer after a motor vehicle accident. If you sustained injuries, it is generally in your best interest to talk with a personal injury attorney before making any decisions about your accident claim. Understanding your legal rights and your options for pursuing an injury claim benefit you, regardless of whether you decide to hire the attorney.
What Does a Car Accident Attorney Do for You?
Some of the benefits of consulting with and hiring a car accident lawyer include:
Explain Your Legal Rights
Unfortunately, most people are not well-versed in personal injury laws. When you consult with a lawyer about your car crash, the first thing the attorney does is explain your legal rights. Numerous laws and statutes can impact the outcome of your personal injury case, including insurance laws, statutes of limitation, comparative fault rules.
California is an at-fault state for car insurance and car accidents. If another driver caused your car accident, you will make a claim against their insurance company for compensation related to your accident. An experienced car accident lawyer will explain the process for making a claim and the timeline for your settlement.
They will handle all paperwork and communication with the insurance company and negotiate for the highest compensation package available for your injuries.
Statutes of Limitation
Most car accidents are resolved through insurance claims. However, sometimes it is necessary to initiate a lawsuit if the insurance company won’t offer a fair settlement.
Many people are unaware that California’s statutes of limitations set deadlines for filing lawsuits. Most personal injury lawsuits in California are subject to a two-year deadline. If you do not file your lawsuit within two years of your accident, you will lose your right to compensation.
Some claims have shorter deadlines. For example, injury claims against a government entity must be filed within six months of your accident. Your attorney will explain the time limits that apply to your case and comply with filing deadlines to avoid the statute of limitations.
It’s not uncommon for multiple parties to share fault for a car accident. If you contributed to your wreck, your attorney will explain how California’s comparative negligence rules could impact your claim.
California is a pure comparative negligence state. You can recover damages even if you share blame for your accident. However, an insurance company or court can reduce your damages to account for your involvement.
For example, suppose a speeding driver hit your car after you failed to yield the right of way. Say the jury finds you 30% responsible for the accident. In this case, you can only take home 70% of your damages due to the pure comparative fault rules.
Your attorney will answer your questions about car accident claims and discuss how these and other personal injury laws could influence your case.
Provides Legal Advice Regarding Your Case
You should not trust an insurance claims adjuster to tell you the truth about car accident settlements or personal injury lawsuits. The claims adjuster’s job is to protect the insurance company from liability by reducing the value of your injury claim as much as possible.
An injury lawyer reviews your case and provides you with an assessment of your claim that you can trust. Experienced car accident lawyers have spent years handling injury cases. They understand the law and how the law applies to your case.
A personal injury attorney may explain several approaches for recovering damages, including the pros and cons of each strategy. Then, the lawyer gives you their opinion of the best approach to use based on the facts and circumstances of your case.
Investigates the Car Crash
There is a lot of work required to investigate a car accident. When you hire a car accident lawyer, the lawyer handles all aspects of the accident investigation. Steps the attorney may take include:
- Gathering physical evidence for the crash scene, including videos of the accident captured by traffic cameras and nearby surveillance cameras
- Interview witnesses and take statements
- Obtain and review the police report or accident report
- Request copies of your medical records and discuss the severity of your injuries with your physicians
- Work with medical experts, accident reconstructionists, and other experts to prove fault and liability
You have the burden of proving that the other party caused the car accident. A thorough investigation is necessary to determine the cause of the crash, identify the parties responsible for the crash, and gather evidence proving those individuals were at fault.
An investigation can be time-consuming, complicated, and costly. However, a personal injury attorney has the resources, skills, and experience to complete an investigation.
Since most attorneys accept car accident cases on a contingency fee basis, the attorney is only paid when you are paid. Therefore, there is a strong incentive to work diligently to maximize the amount you receive for your injury claim.
The attorney works with you and your physicians to document your damages. Damages in a car accident claim may include:
- Medical expenses and bills
- Cost of therapy and personal care
- Loss of income and benefits
- Impairments and disabilities
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental trauma and emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Reduced quality of life
Your attorney works to maximize the value of each type of damage.
Negotiates a Fair Settlement
An experienced car accident lawyer understands how to value a claim. The attorney knows the best way to calculate economic losses and pain and suffering damages.
The insurance company will not tell you the actual value of your damages. Instead, it will try to pressure you to accept a low settlement offer.
Attorneys are trained, skilled negotiators. They understand how to increase your chances of receiving the best settlement possible for your car accident claim.
Insurance companies understand that they cannot pressure or trick an experienced personal injury attorney. Therefore, the insurance company may be more willing to negotiate a fair settlement if an attorney is involved.
Represents You in Court
Fortunately, most car accident cases settle without the need to go to court. Your lawyer and the insurance provider negotiate a settlement amount that is fair for all parties.
However, if the insurance company refuses to negotiate in good faith, a car accident lawyer can file a personal injury lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit allows your attorney to gather additional evidence against the other party. It also demonstrates to the insurance provider that the attorney is serious about pursuing your claim.
What is the Key Thing You Need to Remember About Car Accident Lawyers?
Most attorneys offer free consultations for car accident victims. Therefore, it may not cost you anything to talk with a lawyer about your case.
Consulting with a car accident attorney allows you to get more information about personal injury claims. The more information you have about injury claims, the better prepared you are to hire a personal injury lawyer or risk handling the case yourself.
David Muñoz is a car accident attorney fighting for injury victims in San Diego and throughout Southern California. As the managing attorney at Mission Personal Injury Lawyers, David has recovered over 20 million dollars on behalf of his clients.