Seven Reasons the Answer Is Yes!
People rarely think about hiring an attorney until they need one. Unfortunately, many of them will hesitate to even speak with an attorney because they are worried that they cannot afford to. However, if you have been injured in a car accident that was caused by someone else’s carelessness or recklessness, there are many reasons why getting a lawyer can be one of the most important things you can do after an accident.
The right legal team of accident lawyers places top priority on the needs of their clients, providing quality legal services and top-notch customer service to those who need them, regardless of their financial status. Read on to find out why it is so important to talk to a personal injury attorney about your car accident.
7 Reasons Why Having a Lawyer After a Car Accident Is so Important
Maybe you do not believe that your injuries are serious enough to justify having an attorney help you with your claim. Perhaps you are remembering the story of your friend who nearly went broke paying for a qualified divorce attorney. Maybe you are getting advice from well-meaning friends and family members about how you should just file your claim on your own to avoid the attorney taking a cut of your compensation. Whatever the reason, you are wondering why you should hire an attorney to help you with your claim.
When it comes to obtaining fair compensation for the expenses and impacts you incurred as the result of a car accident caused by someone else, hiring an attorney is potentially one of the most important things you can do. Here are seven reasons why.
1. Understanding Your Legal Options
Most people get their knowledge of how the legal process works by watching courtroom dramas on television or in the movies. You can be certain that these portrayals are generally far simpler than the real deal. We often speak with potential clients who are unaware of what the legal process entails, and even more unaware about what their options for seeking compensation are.
Some of the common misconceptions we see include:
- The belief that talking to an attorney means your case is going to court. In truth, the vast majority of car accident personal injury claims are resolved before they ever come close to a courtroom. Settlements are a common form of resolution and occur when the at-fault party’s insurance carrier admits to the liability of their insured and offers to settle the claim for a certain amount in exchange for avoiding taking the claim to court.
- The belief that the attorney is going to charge a ridiculous retainer just to talk to you or a couple of hundred bucks to make a phone call on your behalf. This is not true. Personal injury attorneys are not the same as divorce attorneys, business attorneys, or others. They often do not require retainers, do not charge by the hour, and can happily answer questions for free.
- The belief that only one source of liability can cause an accident. The term liability refers to legal responsibility for the accident that resulted in your injuries. Car accidents are often chaotic events that resulted from the negligence of one or more drivers with the potential of liability from third parties such as governmental entities tasked with maintaining roadways, the manufacturers of the vehicles or vehicle parts, the employees of hired drivers, and more. An attorney will help you look at your claim and determine all potential sources of liability to help ensure that the liable parties provide you with enough compensation to adequately address the expenses and impacts you have incurred as a result of your injury.
2. Avoiding Common Insurance Tactics
Insurance policies are almost exclusively the source of compensation after a car accident. This is because the costs of medical care, wage loss, property damage, and psychological impacts after an accident are too much for most people to afford to pay out-of-pocket. Unfortunately, insurance companies are not in the business to compensate you, they are in the business to protect themselves.
To protect their bottom line, insurance companies hire adjusters to investigate their claims. These adjusters will often resort to some questionable tactics to reduce (or eliminate) the amounts that the carrier is required to pay out on claims. This is true for the at-fault party’s insurance carrier, as well as your own.
Some of the tactics that insurance adjusters frequently use to avoid paying out on claims include:
- The quick settlement offer. Many clients are surprised to receive a phone call from the at-fault party’s insurance very quickly after the accident. In fact, some clients report receiving initial contact from a third-party insurance provider while they are still in the hospital. The call seems like the answer to an injured person’s dreams, with a settlement offer in exchange for a quick resolution. Unfortunately, these offers are often ridiculously low considering the expenses an injured person will likely face. The problem is, the injured person does not yet know how much their injuries will cost or impact their lives because the costs are still rolling in. It is commonly recommended to avoid accepting the quick settlement. Why? Because it likely will not provide enough compensation to cover your expenses, and you will be unable to go back and ask for more money.
- Lying about available compensation. Another common insurance tactic is to tell the claimant that there is only a small amount of compensation available to convince them to accept a settlement under the belief that they must agree to this amount or nothing at all.
- Trying to shift liability to the injured person. When you are answering questions posed by an insurance adjuster, it is important to realize that anything you say can be used to attempt to sway liability in your direction. An experienced car accident attorney can handle communications with the insurance adjuster on your behalf to prevent you from inadvertently harming your claim by saying the wrong thing.
3. Properly Valuing Your Claim
To value your claim accurately (and increase your chances that your claim will pay for all of your injuries and not leave you with thousands of dollars in unpaid bills), your car accident lawyer will add all the out-of-pocket costs of your injury. These costs can include medical expenses, wage loss, loss of future earning capacity, and property damage to the vehicle you were driving at the time of the accident. The sum of these expenses is your total economic damages.
Your car accident lawyer will not do what the defense does and resort to a computer program or math formula to calculate your pain and suffering. Instead, they will get to know you and learn about your pre-accident life. They’ll learn what you really lost in the accident. Then they will try to come up with a dollar amount that fairly reimburses you for your non-economic damages.
Then, to produce a value to your claim, they’ll add those damages together, and fight to get the responsible party to pay you that amount.
4. Experience With the Legal Process
Personal injury attorneys spend about seven years after high school obtaining the education they need to become licensed to practice law. Usually, they spend many more years learning the ropes as part of an attorney team. Throughout all of this education and on-the-job training, they gain experience in the legal process of seeking compensation so they can provide the best services for their clients.
These services include:
- Determining liability
- Valuing claims
- Negotiating settlements
- Gathering evidence
- Deposing witnesses
- Filing personal injury lawsuits
- Litigation services
- Assistance collecting your settlement or award
Just as the experience of your physician provides you a better chance of recovery than self-treating your wounds, hiring an experienced car accident lawyer affords you a better chance at recovering compensation than representing yourself.
5. Paying Attention to Deadlines
All states have a statute of limitations when it comes to making a personal injury claim. The statute of limitations refers to a state law that sets a deadline for you to file your personal injury claim in court. While the statute of limitations for personal injury claims varies from state to state, most states have a deadline of two to four years. While this seems like a lot of time, many things need to be accomplished in that time. It should be noted that some states have shorter statutes of limitations, and claims against government agencies have much shorter deadlines.
Your attorney can advise you as to the statute of limitations in your case and can help ensure that—barring a settlement agreement that occurs before the lawsuit is filed—you do not lose out on your ability to seek compensation through the courts by missing the deadline.
6. Assistance in Collecting Your Settlement or Award
Many potential clients are unsure of how they will receive compensation after a court judgment or a settlement agreement. Generally, the insurance carrier will process the payment and send it directly to your attorney. Your attorney will then take their payment for their services, pay any expenses they are responsible for covering as per your contract for services, and forward the remainder of the compensation to you.
7. Guidance Throughout the Process
Personal injury claims are often confusing. How long will the process last? Will your case go to court? Will you have to take the witness stand? The right legal team is committed to providing excellent service to their clients, and guidance throughout the process is an important part of that. Excellent service includes answering your emails or phone calls within 24 hours, explaining to you the pros and cons of a settlement offer, the willingness to explore your legal options with you, and much more.
There are a lot of decisions that you alone will have to make regarding your claim. Personal injury attorneys have the honor and responsibility of ensuring that you make well-informed decisions.
What Many People Do Not Understand About Car Accident Attorneys
As mentioned earlier, personal injury attorneys generally do not bill for their services in the same way that other types of attorneys such as family law or criminal defense attorneys would. The stakes are simply too high: Personal injuries can create life-altering impacts for the sufferer and their family and the option of obtaining compensation should never be available only to those rich enough to hire an attorney.
To that end, personal injury attorneys can provide legal assistance to anyone who needs it through:
- A free case evaluation: When you contact a personal injury attorney, their intake team can speak with you about your claim, your legal options, and the services they provide to assist you with your claim. From there, if you wish to hire them, they will discuss their contract for services with you so that you understand it and are ready to sign.
- A contingent-fee billing method: A contingent-fee billing method is an agreement that most personal injury attorneys enter that allows you to withhold payment for the attorney’s services until there is a positive outcome to your claim. This provides you with the opportunity to obtain quality legal services without trying to scrape up the money for an attorney. It also allows the attorney to begin working immediately on your case after you have signed the agreement.
A Car Accident Attorney Can Help With Your Claim
Attempting to navigate the personal injury claims process alone can negatively impact how much you can obtain for the expenses and impacts of your injury. Let a car accident attorney seek the maximum amount of compensation available to you in your case.
Is it worth it to hire an attorney after a car accident? Perhaps the better question would be: Can you afford not to?
For your free case evaluation, contact a personal injury attorney at any time.