Your first thought after a car accident likely doesn’t include, “Now I need to get a lawyer to help me handle this!”
Most people assume that car accident claims will go through an insurance company. Insurance companies have policies to provide compensation, both for people who suffer property damage in an accident and for people who suffer serious injuries. The entire purpose of insurance companies includes making sure that people who suffer serious accidents have financial assistance in handling their future needs.
Unfortunately, it does not always play out that way.
Do you need a lawyer to help you handle the aftermath of a car accident? Yes. A lawyer will prove your best advocate following an accident.
When Do You Need a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
Under these circumstances, contact a car accident lawyer immediately.
1. You suffered an injury in the accident.
When handling property damage claims, insurance companies usually must pay out enough to repair your vehicle. You might not get the funds you want to repair your vehicle at the top dealership or repair shop in town, but you will probably get what you need to get your vehicle up and running in the condition it was before the accident.
Dealing with injuries, on the other hand, can prove much more complicated.
When you report injuries from a car accident to the insurance company, the insurance company will usually offer a percentage of the damages you suffered as a settlement. If you break your arm in an accident, for example, you might spend as much as $2,500 for non-surgical treatment, and surgical treatment could run to $16,000 or more.
Suppose that you required surgery. You would need to ask for $16,000 in compensation (less any amount covered by your MedPay insurance coverage). The insurance company, however, might offer you as little as $10,000 or even less.
You do not want to miss out on the full compensation you deserve for your accident and your injuries. If you cannot recover needed compensation, after all, you could find yourself struggling to pay your medical bills or to deal with your other bills. A lawyer can help give you a better idea of how much compensation you really deserve, then fight to help you get it.
2. You suffered serious property damage.
Heavy property damage in an accident can prove extremely costly. Most people assume that the insurance company will take care of it automatically, from offering them the value of their vehicle to providing the funds needed to fix it up after the accident.
Unfortunately, if you suffered severe property damage particularly property damage that does not include your vehicle the insurance company may not offer you the full compensation you may deserve. You may find yourself struggling to get the full compensation needed to repair or replace your vehicle. Since you did not cause the accident, you may find it very unfair that you have to lose the investment you have made in that vehicle due to another party’s negligent actions.
A lawyer can help you fight for the full compensation you deserve.
3. The insurance company tries to dispute liability for the accident.
You know that the other driver caused the accident. The driver may even have acknowledged, at the scene, that he caused the accident. As you try to move the claim through his insurance company, however, he may try to claim that you caused the accident, or that you contributed to it in some way.
Perhaps he claims that you drove while distracted, or that you did not yield while pulling out into traffic. The insurance company might claim that the damage to the vehicles implies that you traveled at a higher rate of speed than the speed limit on the road where the accident occurred.
Disputed liability in a car accident can drag out the process and make it difficult for you to get the full compensation you deserve. If you accept even partial liability for the accident, you may have the compensation you can recover reduced.
Working with a lawyer can help you establish who really caused the accident and, as a result, the full compensation you deserve for both any injuries you sustained and any property damage that occurred during the accident.
4. The insurance company tries to deny the full extent of your injuries.
You may start out feeling that you can successfully navigate your car accident claim on your own. You know that you may need a lawyer if things get sticky, but you feel confident in your ability to negotiate, perhaps because you suffered relatively minor injuries or you do not think that the insurance company will fight the compensation you deserve for those injuries.
Then the claim begins.
The insurance company looks at your injuries and tries to dispute them. That may occur in one of several ways.
The insurance company might:
- Claim that you suffered most of your injuries at a time other than the accident in question and that, therefore, someone else bears liability for them.
- Try to prove that you do not suffer the limitations you claim because of the accident. For example, the insurance company might try to prove that you can get out and engage in activities that do not seem in line with the injuries you claimed: going out dancing with a broken leg, for example.
- Indicate that you should not have needed the medical treatments you claimed based on your injuries, or deny coverage for specific medical treatments involved in your recovery.
You know what injuries you suffered and how much they limit your life. You know that you deserve compensation for those injuries. The insurance company, however, may go out of its way to prove that you did not suffer as much as you claim, which would limit the compensation it owes you.
5. You get a very low settlement offer from the insurance companies.
Many insurance companies deliberately start with a low settlement offer. They may even try to contact the injured party as soon after the accident as possible and get them to accept a settlement quickly, rather than giving them time to determine what the full extent of their injuries and long-term limitations will look like.
All too many car accident victims will accept those offers without taking the time to consider the full extent of their injuries or how much they will limit them long-term.
You may feel pressured to accept that offer: you need to get the funds from that claim in your hands as soon as possible; the insurance company claims that the offer will leave the table if you do not accept it as soon as possible; you feel that the insurance company may not support you if you do not accept the offer. You may even have fears that the insurance company will deny your claim.
In reality, however, most insurance companies will not offer you the full compensation you deserve upfront. You have the right to fight those offers and increase the compensation the insurance company offers to an amount that better reflects the real damages you suffered, including both financial and non-financial damages. An attorney can go over your rights and, when needed, fight for you.
6. You have any questions about the car accident claim process.
Filing a car accident claim can prove more complicated than most people think. The average person will not need to file many car accident claims in a lifetime. You may have no idea what to do first, much less what your next steps should be or how you can work to protect yourself.
A lawyer knows what the car accident claim process should look like, what challenges you may face along the way, and how you can maximize the compensation you can recover for both injuries and property damage after your accident. If you have questions, going to a lawyer can offer you a wealth of information that may help you navigate your claim more successfully.
What Can a Lawyer Do for You After a Car Accident?
Is it worth hiring a lawyer after a car accident? For many people, that simple question lingers long after the accident and may prevent them from contacting a lawyer for considerably longer than it should.
A lawyer can move your car accident claim forward quickly and efficiently, especially if you suffered injuries in the accident or find yourself dealing with an insurance adjuster who does not want to prove you with the full compensation you deserve.
1. A lawyer can help lay out your rights (including how much compensation you really deserve).
The average car accident victim has no idea how much compensation to expect after the accident. You may not even know what your medical bills will look like, and therefore how much compensation you should expect from them, after the accident.
Do you have to accept a settlement offer fast? How much should you expect? When should you settle, and when should you continue to negotiate? Handling those questions on your own can prove incredibly stressful, and you may have a hard time getting the answers you need.
A lawyer can sit down with you and go over your rights, from the compensation you deserve for your injuries to how long the insurance company must pay out. From there, you can negotiate far more easily, since you will better understand exactly what the process should look like.
2. A lawyer can help investigate the accident.
After a car accident, sometimes, you can quickly prove who caused the accident. The other driver admits liability, the police report notes that the other driver caused the accident, and even the insurance company acknowledges that its driver caused it.
Other times, it may prove much more complex. You may have a harder time determining who caused the accident. The insurance company may dispute liability. The other driver may refuse to admit fault.
A lawyer can help investigate the accident and connect you with experts who can help recreate the accident based on the available evidence. Furthermore, in many cases, an attorney can identify multiple parties that share liability for the accident, which can help increase the compensation you can recover.
3. A lawyer can put together your claim.
A compelling claim written by an experienced attorney can make a big difference in your claim. Whether you need to present it to an insurance adjuster or the court because you could not settle, having an attorney put together that claim can help more clearly show exactly how much compensation you may deserve.
A lawyer can also deal with the insurance company for you, from submitting the claim to negotiating afterward. Decreased stress levels can even help make your medical recovery easier.
If you suffered injuries in a car accident, do not try to handle your claim without an attorney. A car accident lawyer can help you decide what steps to take next and even fight to maximize the compensation you can recover.