Hiring an attorney is an investment but not every fender-bender justifies hiring one. You can learn the basics about settling routine claims yourself. If you take the time to educate yourself about the claims system, you don’t need a lawyer to help with routine or minor car accident claims. This way you can handle and settle your own claims. The key is to figure out which cases you can settle yourself, and which require a lawyer. Settling your own claim is possible and profitable. You may be comfortable settling your own claims if your out-of-pocket expenses are small but may not be able to handle high-cost claims. You must decide at what level your case becomes too big to handle yourself.
If you do not want to spend time learning, hire a lawyer and turn your case over to him/her early so he/she has adequate time to prepare. An attorney can help you get the best value for your claim. Lawyers typically charge a legal fee equal to 1/3 of your recovery. A personal injury lawyer familiar with settling car accident claims will be able to:
- Review your settlement offer to determine whether or not it is fair;
- Negotiate with the insurance company in an effort to increase the settlement;
- File a lawsuit should your insurance company stall negotiations.
How will a car accident lawyer benefit me?
A lawyer will approach any negotiation process with the experience and knowledge necessary to level the playing field. An attorney will know how to request damages beyond medical bills and vehicle repair costs, and attempt to include damages for pain and suffering or loss of income that go beyond what a basic policy may cover. A lawyer will also be able to put pressure on the insurance company in terms of pursuing litigation should any negotiations break down.
Consulting a car accident lawyer
Although the value of hiring an attorney varies with each situation, having experienced legal counsel will help any car accident victim improve their chances of getting a claim settlement.
Piling up medical bills
An attorney may be able to help you recover some compensation where your medical bills add up. If you have injuries that need to be treated for an extended period of time or you have missed work on account of doctors appointments, which could mean lost wages, you should hire a lawyer to present you professionally. The larger your claim, the better it is to have a professional on your side and the harder the other side can resist the claim.
Damage to your vehicle
If your lawsuit goes to trial, you must prove to a jury that your vehicle was injured in a car wreck. Pictures of the damage to your vehicle before you have it repaired help show the seriousness of the crash to the jurors. You have the right to file a car accident lawsuit for up to two years after the date of the crash.
Car insurance settlement offer
If the insurance company gives you a settlement offer lower than what you expected, an attorney can review the details and provide advice as to whether the value is appropriate given the situation and your insurance policy, A car insurance company’s primary objective is to make money. These companies make money by short-paying claims. Car insurance settlements are determined by the circumstances of the accident, the language of the car insurance policy, and the controlling law. An experienced attorney will understand how all three of these components come together when assessing the value of your claim.
Negotiating with the insurance company
If the car accident settlement offered to you is lower than you are willing to accept, and you want to negotiate a better offer, an attorney can be a valuable asset. Insurance companies have well-trained experts familiar with claim settlement negotiations. Without the assistance from an attorney it is difficult to maximize a satisfactory settlement.
Filing a car accident lawsuit
A car insurance attorney is a necessity should you be unable to agree on a fair car accident settlement and a lawsuit against the insurance company becomes an option. In this event, an attorney should be contacted before any legal action is filed. If you have to take your case to court, and you cannot use an alternative dispute resolution such as the small claims court, you need a lawyer who knows court rules. This will give you a fair chance to win and ensure that your legal rights are protected.
Where fault for a car accident is contested or if you cannot prove that the other driver caused the accident, you need a car accident lawyer’s help.
Daniel Harshburg is an Oxnard personal injury attorney whose law practice operates out of Ventura County in California. They specialize in several several aspects of personal injury law and are always ready to help you through any personal injury situation.