If you've been involved in a car accident, you may need to hire a car accident lawyer. An experienced injury attorney can help you:
- Recover losses resulting from a motor vehicle accident
- Reduce the amount of paperwork, phone calls, and hassle associated with car accident insurance claims
Knowing when you need a personal injury attorney can make the difference between a justly resolved case and owing or losing large monetary damages. Below is important information you need to know about hiring a car accident lawyer.
Why You May Need To Hire a Car Accident Lawyer
Unfortunately, car accidents are everyday occurrences. Most personal injury claims in the United States are a result of an accident involving a car, truck, or other motor vehicle.
Many of these accidents result in minor vehicle damage in the form of a "fender bender" and can generally be handled alone through direct contact with an insurance company. However, car accidents may require legal representation with an experienced attorney if they involve:
- Physical injury
- Other significant damage
An experienced lawyer can help you get compensation to cover any losses incurred due to the accident, such as:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Car repairs
A car accident lawyer may help you recover when a loved one is killed, especially if the accident involved:
How Does Insurance Work in Car Accident Law?
Insurance plays a crucial role in the aftermath of a car accident. It's the primary source of compensation for car accident victims. Understanding how it works can significantly impact the outcome of your claims process.
Dealing With the At-Fault Driver's Insurance Company
After a car accident, you'll typically have to deal with the at-fault driver's insurance company. The insurance company's primary goal is to minimize payouts and protect its bottom line. They use insurance adjusters whose job is to:
- Investigate the accident
- Assess the damage
- Determine how much the insurance company should pay
Insurance adjusters may seem friendly and helpful, but their loyalty is to the insurance company, not to you. They may try to downplay your injuries or argue that you were partially at fault for the accident to reduce the amount they have to pay.
This is where having an experienced car accident lawyer can be invaluable. They can negotiate with the insurance adjuster on your behalf, ensuring you receive the compensation you're entitled to.
Understanding Your Own Insurance Coverage
Besides dealing with the at-fault driver's insurance company, you'll also need to understand your own insurance coverage. Depending on your policy, you may be able to make a claim for:
- Medical expenses
- Car repairs
- Other costs related to the accident
Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage is a part of your own insurance policy that can help you if the at-fault driver doesn't have insurance or doesn't have enough insurance to cover your damages. This coverage can help pay for your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses.
Evaluating the Settlement Offer
Once the insurance adjuster has investigated the accident, they'll typically make a settlement offer. This is the amount the insurance company is willing to pay to resolve your claim.
Carefully evaluate this offer. Do not accept it without consulting with your attorney.
The initial offer is often lower than what you may be entitled to. Once you accept it, you can't go back and ask for more money later, even if your injuries turn out to be more serious than you initially thought.
Seeking Maximum Compensation for Car Accident Injuries
If the insurance company's settlement offer doesn't adequately cover your damages, your attorney can negotiate for a higher amount or take the case to court. They'll use their knowledge of car accident law and their experience dealing with insurance companies to fight for the compensation you deserve.
What To Look for When Hiring a Car Accident Attorney
Auto accident attorneys cover a range of issues stemming from personal injury, wrongful death, and property damage. When looking for a lawyer, you should concentrate on their experience, skill level, commitment, location, and fee structure.
For example, your attorney should be well-versed in state and national transportation laws, know how to deal with insurance and health care companies, and know how to prepare and settle a case effectively. It's also important that you check the attorney's background, references, and track record.
Many personal injury lawyers will accept your case on a contingency or "no win, no fee" basis if the attorney feels your case has any merit, so it's important to check the attorney's standard fee structure.
When To Hire a Car Accident Lawyer
It is best to hire an attorney early to avoid any costly mistakes. The deadline for filing personal injury claims varies from state to state. Because you may need to pay for medical bills and/or cover lost wages, the sooner you contact an attorney, the better. In general, a person should contact an attorney shortly after the accident occurs but before reaching a settlement with the insurance company.
Questions To Ask an Attorney
Before working with a lawyer, you should have as much detailed information and facts about the car accident and any injuries or financial losses as possible. Documents you might want to show your attorney after a motor vehicle accident may include your insurance policy, any police report you have, information exchanged at the accident scene, and medical records, among other things.
Below are some of the questions you should ask before hiring a car accident lawyer:
- What percentage of your practice is devoted to car accident cases?
- What experience do you have with the specific type of injury in question?
- What is a typical settlement range for cases similar to mine? (However, this can be a very difficult question to answer until you have completed treatment and know the full extent of your injuries.)
- How much of my car accident case will you actually handle?
- How are your fees structured?
- What out-of-pocket expenses am I responsible for?
Cost of Hiring a Lawyer
Most car accident cases are handled on a contingency or "no win, no pay" basis. This means that if the attorney does not win or settle the car wreck case on your behalf, they do not collect a fee. On the other hand, if the attorney wins the case, they will get a percentage of the personal injury award.
The attorney's percentage varies from case to case but typically equals approximately one-third of the total award. There are different maximum percentage limits imposed from state to state.
For example, the standard contingency fee for personal injury lawyers in both Florida and Georgia is around one-third (33.33%) of any recovery obtained before filing a lawsuit. However, this can increase to 40% if a lawsuit is filed and potentially even higher if the case is appealed following the entry of a judgment.
Ready To Hire a Car Accident Attorney? Get Started With Your Car Accident Lawsuit Today
Not all car accident cases need the assistance of legal counsel, but an attorney can be invaluable to your claim and ability to be fairly compensated. Learn more by getting legal advice from an experienced car accident attorney in your area.
Many auto accident lawyers offer free case evaluations and work on a contingency fee basis. You won't have to pay anything upfront to start seeking a fair settlement for your car crash.
Disclaimer: there is a statute of limitations on personal injury cases. This means you have a limited time to exercise your legal rights and hold the at-fault driver accountable. Act promptly to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced attorney for your car accident claim.