If a car accident was relatively minor, resulting in only property damage and minimal injuries, you may be able to handle the resulting insurance claim on your own. However, if you are suffering from catastrophic injuries after a serious accident, you may have a lot at stake in terms of medical bills, lost income, and other damages. The insurance company also may put more resources into contesting all or part of the claim. In these situations, or in situations in which liability is unclear, you may benefit greatly from hiring a car accident lawyer.
Attorneys who handle car accident cases and other personal injury cases usually work on a contingency fee basis. This means that they will take their fee from any eventual settlement or judgment that you receive, usually in a percentage around 30-33%. If they do not get money for you, you usually do not need to pay the attorney anything. There are certain other costs associated with filing a claim, however, and you will want to determine who will cover those costs when you retain an attorney.
How an Attorney Can Help
One of the main tasks that your attorney can handle for you is communicating with insurance companies and adverse parties in your case. This can help take the stress out of the process and make sure that an insurance adjuster does not take advantage of you. Negotiating a settlement in a car accident case is a complex and often hard-fought process, but an attorney may understand better than the victim how much the case is worth and how to get the insurer to pay out. Also, complexities can arise in some claims involving lien holders. These are other insurers that provided benefits to an accident victim before the auto insurer provides them, which gives these insurers a lien on the claim. An attorney can help you try to reduce the lien so that you retain as much of the settlement or judgment as possible.
Insurance Tactics and Bad Faith
Unfortunately, some insurance companies take advantage of claimants’ anxieties and inexperience with car accident claims, hoping that they will settle quickly and for little money. These tactics may even rise to the level of bad faith, for which the claimant may pursue a separate claim for damages against the insurer. Hiring an experienced car accident lawyer may help ease the stress of the unknown and hold an insurance company accountable.
Another key area in which an attorney can help is gathering evidence to support your claim. You will need to collect evidence regarding both liability (who caused the accident) and damages (your losses from the accident). An attorney can retain experts to investigate the accident, and they can discuss the events with police officers and witnesses. They can also help obtain evidence from medical providers to establish the scope and extent of your injuries. In some cases, an attorney might retain medical experts to explain the effect of your injuries.
Choosing a Car Accident Lawyer
When you are looking for an attorney, you should make sure to choose someone who relates well to you. They also should have experience handling cases similar to yours. Trial experience can be an important asset, since insurers may take a claim more seriously if they know that a victim’s attorney is willing to go to trial. You may also want to make sure that your attorney actually will be handling your case, rather than passing the work to paralegals or other assistants.
You can read more here about the process of finding and working with a personal injury lawyer.
Getting a Case Evaluation
In your initial meeting with the attorney or their assistant, you will describe the facts of the accident and your injuries. The attorney or assistant may ask about certain key issues before deciding whether to take the case, such as your insurance coverage and any previous communications with insurance adjusters and others about the accident. The attorney may ask you to bring certain documents to the meeting so that they can better understand your case. These may include medical bills, the police report of the accident, and correspondence with insurers, among other things. You should be aware that the attorney-client privilege will protect the contents of this conversation, so you should be as candid with the attorney as possible. This will help both sides determine the value of your case and whether it makes sense to move forward together.