A car accident can cause incredible stress if you or a loved one suffer injuries or vehicle damage. One of the most important decisions, if not the single most important one, you will have to make after a car accident is whether to hire an attorney.
Always discuss any car accident with an experienced car accident lawyer.
Most people don't know if they have one of these situations, so it's best to talk to an attorney to find out if they can help you. Case evaluations with car accident attorneys should be no-cost, with no obligation to hire the firm, so you have nothing to lose by having a legal professional advise you. If you need to pursue an injury claim, victims with legal representation will usually obtain more compensation than those without.
Below are some factors an attorney will likely consider when deciding if you should hire a law firm after a car accident.
The Extent of Your Injuries
If you or a loved one has suffered severe injuries due to a car accident, seeking the services of an attorney is imperative to receiving the compensation you deserve. A skilled car accident attorney can help you navigate the complex legal system and prove the extent of your injuries and their damages.
The Severity of the Accident
When an accident results in significant damage to your vehicle, it's also strongly recommended that you seek the services of a car accident attorney. They will negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf, ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve for your property damage, which is separate from your injury compensation.
The Insurance Company's Response
Unfortunately, insurance companies often give you a runaround or do not offer you a fair settlement. However, with a car accident lawyer on your side, they will know that you won't fall for their tactics to deny or devalue your claim. An attorney can hold them accountable for their contracts and under the law.
In addition, always remember to prioritize your health and safety after a car accident. Seek medical attention immediately and document all of your injuries and damages. Keep a record of all medical bills, lost income, and other expenses related to the accident. Your car accident lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve so that you can focus on your recovery without the added stress of dealing with insurance companies and legal proceedings.
Negligence in Car Accident Cases
Most car accident claims are rooted in the premise of negligence. In short, negligence means not doing what a prudent person will have done in the same or similar situation.
To effectively establish negligence in your case, your car accident attorney will collect evidence to prove that:
- The at-fault party owed you a duty of care for example, to drive the speed limit or stop at a red light.
- That party violated their duty of care by speeding or running through the red light.
- Their violation caused the accident and your injuries.
- Your damages, such as pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, lost income, and medical bills, are directly related to the accident.
Questions to Ask a Car Accident Attorney
Before hiring a car accident attorney, there are several questions you will want to ask them. First, most attorneys will offer a no-obligation case review before you hire them, either in person or by phone. This is your opportunity to ask these questions and find out if the attorney is someone you can see yourself working closely with for several months or even a year or more.
You should ask them the following questions:
- How long have you been an attorney?
- Are you in good standing with the State Bar?
- How much are your fees?
- Do you work on contingency fees?
- Do you have experience in car accident claims similar to mine?
- If so, what were the results?
- What are your past clients saying about you?
- Have you received any recent awards or recognitions?
- What do you think my case is worth?
- What are the strengths and weaknesses in my case?
- Do you have time to work on my case now?
- Will you be working on my case, or will it be another lawyer or paralegal?
- How quickly do you return phone calls or emails?
- Are you willing to take my case to trial?
Tips to Choose the Right Car Accident Attorney
If you recently suffered injuries in a car accident, now is the time to pursue compensation and protect your rights.
The best way to do this is to secure representation from a qualified car accident attorney, but how do you choose the right one? Do you pick the one on the billboard by the highway, the first one on your Google search results page, or the one your coworker used two years ago?
The number of choices can be daunting. Choosing a car accident attorney can be confusing if you have never been through this process before. These tips can help you narrow your choices and ultimately select the attorney to get you the results you deserve and be the right one.
Just like you might if you needed someone to work on your house or you wanted to try a new fancy restaurant, talk to others about their experiences and whom they will recommend. With so many car accidents happening everywhere, you likely know someone a friend, neighbor, coworker, client, or even relative that has hired a car accident attorney in the last several years.
Focus on Communication
Do you have a good rapport after meeting the attorney? Does it seem like they make client communication a priority? Car accident claims can be stressful, and victims often have many questions. Having a lawyer who communicates frequently and thoroughly can put your mind at ease and make this process much smoother.
Do They Play Hardball With Insurance Companies?
Since your claim is only worth what the insurance company is willing to settle for, you want a car accident attorney with a proven track record of playing hardball with the insurance companies.
You want your attorney to have a reputation for maximizing their clients' compensation by standing up to big and aggressive insurance companies. When the insurance company finds out who your lawyer is, you want them to know they will have to pay the maximum settlement or go to court.
Why Do I Need to Engage a Car Accident Attorney?
Engaging a car accident attorney has countless benefits that serve to make your life easier while you recover from your injuries and to help you recover as much compensation as possible. For instance, when you hire an attorney, they take over communications with the insurance company. You don't have to be bothered by their phone calls or requests for documents. Also, by not having to speak to the insurance adjuster, you protect yourself from saying something that might be harmful to your claim or falling for a low-ball settlement offer.
Your attorney will handle all the details of your case so that you have the time and space you need to heal.
Your attorney and their staff will take care of:
- Obtaining police reports
- Talking to any eyewitnesses
- Getting copies of your relevant medical records
- Filing your insurance claim
- Filing any necessary court documents
In addition, well-versed car accident lawyers know what your case is worth. Insurance companies know they can't play games and use their usual tactics on experienced attorneys. Therefore, they are more likely to offer settlements that provide you with full and fair compensation for your damages. Car accident victims with legal representation typically secure more compensation than those without.
Costs to Consider When Choosing a Car Accident Attorney
Sadly, many individuals injured in motor vehicle accidents don't seek the services of a car accident attorney because they are afraid they can't afford legal help. The reality is that most car accident lawyers offer free initial consultations and work on contingency fees.
With contingency fee arrangements, the injured party pays nothing for their legal services until the attorney obtains compensation on their behalf. If the attorney doesn't settle their claim or win a court award, the injured party owes the attorney nothing. If and when they secure compensation through a settlement or court award, the attorney receives a predetermined portion of those funds as their fees.
However, keep in mind that the attorney's office may or may not absorb other costs and fees associated with your claim, including:
- Postage, copies, and other document costs
- Expert witness costs
- Court filing fees
Even after paying their attorney and other potential associated fees, most car accident victims receive more money for their claims than they might have if they didn't have a car accident attorney.
How Long Will a Car Accident Claim Take?
Most car accident lawyers will tell you that receiving fair compensation for your damages requires time and patience. Often, auto insurance companies are willing to settle car accident victims' claims almost immediately. Still, their initial offers will likely never be near what you are entitled to receive for your injuries.
Of course, money can be tight if you aren't working or have accident-related medical bills to pay. However, accepting an offer from the insurance company until you have had the opportunity to discuss your accident with a car accident lawyer is never a good idea. You likely deserve much more than what they offer you at that time.
Most car accident injury claims can take at least a few months to settle if you want to recover your claim's total value. More complex claims can take a year or two to settle. Your car accident lawyer will do everything they can to keep your claim moving forward so that you don't have to wait any longer than necessary to receive the money you are waiting for.
Most car accident cases settle out of court. However, the settlement process can take some time. Cases that can't reach a settlement will need to go to court, typically increasing the amount of time a case lasts for several reasons. For example, you might have to wait on a court date, a judge, or a jury decision, and more time and effort may be needed to prepare for going to trial.
Generally, car accident victims should settle their cases before the court, saving time, money, and hassle. Your car accident lawyer can advise you about the specifics of your case.
What Happens After My Car Accident?
As the dust and debris settle after your accident, you may wonder what your next steps should be. First, ensure you seek a medical evaluation even if you cannot see any visible injuries or only notice minor bumps or scrapes.
Sometimes, car accident victims can have severe injuries with little pain or only minor symptoms. Having a medical professional document your injuries in your medical record will also help maximize your compensation.
Next, contact a qualified personal injury attorney in San Antonio. While medical care should always be your priority, seeking a legal consultation should be next. Waiting too long can devalue your claim in several ways.
Even if you aren't sure you can benefit from the services of an attorney, it's always best to schedule a free consultation and let a lawyer tell you if they can help you. Never assume that you won't benefit from legal help.