When to Lawyer Up After a Car Accident
An automobile accident brings with it a host of questions. Who is at fault? Who pays for damage to my car? Who will pay for my medical bills? How much should I get for pain and suffering? Can I ask the insurance company to reimburse me for lost wages? An experienced injury attorney can be extremely helpful in negotiating the often chaotic and confusing world of insurance claims and settlements.
Because most injury attorneys work on a contingent-fee basis, and only get paid if there is a successful resolution to your claim, there is often little incentive to try to handle these types of claims on your own, unless no injuries or serious damage were involved and a settlement would be very small. If you’re injured in a car accident, then hiring a lawyer will almost always ensure a much better settlement.
Knowledge of Law and Procedural Rules
Hiring a personal injury attorney to represent you after a car accident means you will have a professional working for you — one who is extremely knowledgeable about the relevant laws and procedural rules that may affect your case.
An attorney can advise you of any time limits (called statutes of limitations) that can bar you from filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. For instance, in many states you must file your lawsuit within two years of your car accident or be forever prohibited from filing your lawsuit. An attorney will also be able to inform you about any special exceptions to the statute of limitations — for minors, for example.
Your attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf and will know how best to mitigate any possible defenses raised by the other side. In addition, once your case gets under way, your lawyer will play an invaluable role in preparing your case for trial — and even going to trial if your case doesn’t settle.
Even though a lawsuit is rarely necessary, the threat of legal action offers strong leverage when negotiating a fair settlement.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, having an attorney who is knowledgeable about the law evens the playing field, especially when you are going up against the experience and vast resources of a large insurance company.
Lawyers Do The Legwork
There is a lot of work that goes into negotiating an insurance settlement and trying a personal injury lawsuit. After you have been in a car accident, taking on this time-consuming work may be the last thing you want to do, assuming you’re able. An attorney can do it all for you.
Whereas this may be your first time dealing with the ins and outs of an accident claim, injury attorneys have dealt with all manner of claims and a variety of insurance companies. They have experience obtaining the necessary evidence to support your claim, including gathering police reports, witness statements, medical records and bills, and employment and lost wage information.
Your attorney will also be able to organize the evidence and prepare a settlement demand letter for the insurance company. If you are unable to settle your accident case, your attorney can take care of filing the necessary paperwork to start a court case and can deal with the defense attorneys on your behalf. Having someone knowledgeable handling the hard work of your case eases the burden on you, which is especially important if you have been seriously injured and are trying to recover from your injuries.
An Attorney Advocates for You
Perhaps the most important way an attorney can help you with your car accident case is by being your advocate. This means that your attorney acts on your behalf and for your benefit throughout the entire claims process (negotiating with the automobile insurance company) and even in court if a lawsuit becomes necessary. He or she will be your champion before the judge, jury and other attorneys, making sure that your side of the story is heard and that you are compensated for all of your losses.
Having an experienced and articulate advocate working for you is essential in obtaining a reasonable and fair resolution in your car accident case.