Car accidents happen every day in every city and state across the country. Despite efforts of many localities and states to increase traffic safety, crashes causing injuries and tragic fatalities continue to happen. As long as drivers keep causing collisions and injuries, there is a need for experienced car accident lawyers to represent victims.
Depending on the type of accident and the force of the collision, a car accident victim may need to go to the hospital, attend medical appointments, undergo a difficult medical procedure, and incur other damages. The aftermath of a crash can be costly – financially, physically, and mentally.
If you or a person you care about has suffered injuries in one of these accidents, you should retain a knowledgeable car accident attorney who regularly handles these cases. A lawyer can evaluate what happened and advise whether you have the right to hold someone else responsible for your losses.
Do You Need a Car Accident Lawyer?
Many people wonder whether they can simply file an insurance claim against the other driver and receive a check for their damages.
The many costly risks to initiating a car accident claim include:
- You need to focus on your medical treatment following a severe injury instead navigating the insurance claim process.
- Insurance companies take advantage of unrepresented claimants, and adjusters use many tactics to minimize a claimant’s recovery.
- You might underestimate your losses or misunderstand the process, leading you to accept a settlement that is far less than you deserve.
Many people without legal help leave significant money on the table without realizing it. They can feel devastated when they later learn of their mistake and cannot reopen their claim to request the additional compensation they deserve.
While you focus all of your effort on making a full physical recovery, the right legal team can begin working on your claim. This involves gathering the necessary medical documentation to prove your injuries, lost wage statements, police reports, witness statements, photographs, and other vital evidence to assemble a demand package for you.
You can trust your attorney to correctly calculate your losses and fight for the total amount you deserve. They will also handle all communications with the insurance company, so you do not worry about saying the wrong thing or falling for the adjuster’s tactics.
After a crash, seek the medical treatment you need right away. Then, seek a free case evaluation with a car accident attorney to learn what a lawyer can do for you.
Determining Liability for a Car Accident
Car accidents happen for many reasons in many locations. Some crashes occur at intersections, and everyone sees one driver run a red light. Other collisions can involve pile-ups on the interstate, and no one might immediately know what started the crash.
Liability for a car accident is a complex issue, though essential to a car accident injury claim. You must know who should be responsible for your losses to file the appropriate insurance claims. Further, not only do you need to know who is liable, but you also need adequate evidence to prove it.
Most victims cannot do this. You are dealing with your injuries, and you have no idea how to investigate the cause of your accident or gather evidence of liability. The first step your lawyer will take is identifying all liable parties and ensuring you have the evidence to prove liability to insurance companies.
Liability stems from driver negligence, which might include:
Distracted driving – One of the leading causes of car accidents in modern society is distracted driving, which involves operating a motor vehicle while paying attention to something else. Whether someone is texting or checking on children in the back seat, they can hit another vehicle if they look away for even one second.
Proving distracted driving can be more challenging than you might imagine. Drivers generally do not admit to looking at a smartphone or other distractions. Your car accident lawyer knows how to prove when a distracted driver should be liable for your losses.
Impaired driving – Every state has strict laws against driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. A driver who has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher has impairment under the law. Stricter BAC standards apply to commercial drivers and those under 21.
In addition to incurring criminal penalties, a driver who sustains a DUI/DWI conviction can face civil liability if they cause an accident that leads to injuries. Your car accident attorney can gather evidence to prove impaired driving, whether or not the driver received a conviction.
Violating other traffic laws – All drivers are responsible for following traffic laws when they get behind the wheel of a car or truck. This includes obeying speed limits, not following too closely, yielding the right-of-way to other vehicles (including pedestrians) when appropriate, using turn signals, following traffic signals, and following other basic road procedures.
When drivers violate these rules, they significantly increase the chances of a collision with another vehicle. Drivers might receive traffic citations for violating the law, and a conviction can serve as evidence of liability. Your car accident attorney can determine whether a conviction resulted and how to obtain the necessary proof.
These are only a few examples of driver negligence that lead to liability. Liability becomes even more complex when multiple drivers and vehicles are involved or another driver denies doing anything wrong. Other parties might also be liable, including the employers of drivers on the job, rideshare companies, or owners of borrowed vehicles.
Unfortunately, the victim – who is already dealing with injuries – also has the legal burden of proof of liability. You must demonstrate that the driver behaved unreasonably under the circumstances and that, as a result, the car collision occurred. This can be an uphill battle, and the insurance company will not do you any favors to resolve your case favorably.
Always have a car accident lawyer determining and proving liability in your case.
Calculating Your Damages
A car accident claim seeks damages for your losses. Damages mean compensation that makes you whole again – or as close to your position before the accident happened. Crash victims must not only prove liability but also must present evidence to support the damages they need.
A common error in car accident claims is underestimating damages. You might look at medical bills and a pay statement showing a week of missed work and assume this is the amount of money you should seek. In reality, damages can include much more than past medical expenses and lost income.
Damages might include:
- Past medical bills, including emergency care, diagnostic testing, medications, home health assistance, rehabilitation, therapy, surgeries, and more.
- Future estimated medical costs if your injuries require ongoing care after your claim resolves.
- Other out-of-pocket costs, such as childcare if your injuries prevent you from watching your kids, mileage to doctor’s appointments, housecleaning, or food delivery services.
- Past and future lost wages, which includes the income you already lost and the estimated future income your injuries will prevent you from earning.
- Non-economic damages, including physical and mental pain and suffering from your injuries.
- Compensation for permanent disabilities, impairments, or disfigurement due to your injuries.
You might have your bills and pay statements, but obtaining proof of future or non-economic losses is challenging. It often requires analysis from medical and economic experts, to which your lawyer has access.
A car accident attorney will:
- Know how to calculate intangible losses to ensure you receive the maximum compensation you deserve
- Have resources available to calculate future losses, including a network of experts who can assist with your claim
When you have the right car accident attorney handling your claim, you can trust that you will seek maximum compensation for your losses under the law. Without legal help, you risk demanding much less than you need and deserve, leaving you responsible for many costly losses you should not have to cover.
Handling the Claim Process
At-fault insurance claims involving injuries are more complex than typical insurance claims. Many injury victims have filed claims for property damage or similar benefits before, so they assume they understand the process and can handle it alone. However, once you file a claim, you might realize there are more challenges than you expected. Even worse, you might not realize the insurance adjuster is not on your side.
Insurance adjusters regularly tell claimants there is no need to hire a car accident attorney. Adjusters know that without a lawyer, they can usually resolve the claim sooner and pay much less for the settlement.
Insurance companies are businesses first, and their priority is profit, not paying claims. Some adjusters even have incentives for minimizing or denying injury claims. This means that unaware claimants often receive much less than they deserve.
When you hire a car accident attorney, they will handle every step of the insurance claim process.
- Preparing your claim with all supporting evidence of liability and damages
- Communicating with insurance adjusters so you do not risk saying something that can jeopardize your claim
- Responding to requests for additional documentation or evidence
- Preventing unnecessary delays by the insurance company in processing your claim
- Reviewing settlement offers to determine whether the offer is enough to cover your losses
- Advising you whether or not to accept a specific settlement offer
- Negotiating for additional compensation if an offer is too low
Once you have a lawyer handling your claim, the insurance adjuster knows you will not fall victim to their tricks and tactics. This often means they will make a fair offer sooner in the process.
If an insurer refuses to make a fair offer, your lawyer can escalate your case to civil litigation. They will prepare a petition to initiate a personal injury lawsuit with the appropriate civil court and handle complex litigation. Most cases settle out of court during pre-trial litigation, but your car accident attorney should be ready to represent you at a trial if necessary.
Even the Playing Field
In general, when you hire a car accident lawyer, you send a signal to everyone involved in the case that you mean business. You know your legal rights, and you will fight for total compensation. Having a lawyer involved implies the threat of litigation is real if the insurance company does not cooperate.
Liable parties and insurance companies have investigators and legal professionals on their side – and so should you.
When Is the Right Time to Call a Car Accident Lawyer?
Car crash victims should take action to find the right attorney as soon as possible. Waiting too long can have detrimental effects and may even prevent you from recovering the monetary compensation that you need for your injuries.
Every state sets deadlines for filing lawsuits. For example, in California, victims of car crashes have two years from their accident to bring a claim or file a lawsuit seeking compensation for their injuries.
If an accident victim files their lawsuit even one day late, the liable party can request the court to dismiss the case. The dismissal will prevent the victim from pursuing the compensation they deserve, even if liability is clear and they sustained severe injuries. Therefore, get a knowledgeable car accident lawyer on board as soon as possible after your crash.
Contact an experienced car accident lawyer who will file a necessary lawsuit well before the statute of limitations expires, safeguarding your ability to recover the compensation you need for your injuries. Once your lawyer files a lawsuit, they should zealously advocate on your behalf and work to get you proper compensation during every step of the litigation process.