After you’ve been in an accident, you might think you can navigate the claim on your own. However, this isn’t usually the best idea, considering insurance companies are out to retain as much money as possible. Instead, you might consider hiring a car accident lawyer.
While you might be able to do a lot of this on your own, the expert advice and representation given by a lawyer can make all the difference. In this guide, we review everything these lawyers can do and show you how to pick the best one.
What Does a Car Accident Lawyer Do?
The car accident lawyer is determined to get you as much financial compensation as you deserve. They also help you understand your rights, offer sound legal advice and completely investigate the case. If needed, they assess damages, consult with professionals, negotiate settlements and represent you in court.
1. Get You Financial Compensation
The main purpose of this lawyer is to ensure you get every penny you deserve. There are a lot of expenses involved after an accident, many of which you probably haven’t thought about.
If you were to settle on your own, the insurer would likely only offer you the damage that’s done to the vehicle. Even with this compensation, they probably won’t offer everything you deserve but will try to convince you that the damage can be fixed for less money or that the car isn’t worth as much as you think. With the representation of a professional, you can get far more than you would expect.
2. Help You Understand Your Rights
Unless you’ve been to law school, you probably don’t understand what your rights are after a car accident. If it wasn’t your fault, there’s no reason that you should be held responsible for paying on the damage. However, laws vary by state, so it’s important to get legal counsel, especially if you are dealing with an underinsured or uninsured driver situation.
Your lawyer will sit down with you and tell you what to expect. Instead of being powerless when dealing with the insurance companies, you will know how to stand up for yourself.
3. Offer Sound Legal Advice
When you’ve been in an accident, everyone wants to tell you what to do. All of a sudden, everyone becomes a professional. Even if you look online, you are going to find several different answers to every question you have.
Save yourself the time and headaches with a car accident lawyer. By knowing the law, this expert can guide you properly and tell you what’s the best legal path to compensation.
4. Investigate the Case
To have all of the information ready for the insurance company, a full investigation should be done. If you attempt to do it yourself, it’s unlikely that the insurance company is going to give you the time of day.
Instead, you want a lawyer that can document the entire incident with pictures and valuable witness statements. If needed, the entire scene can be recreated to ensure all of the questions are answered.
5. Assess Damages
Starting with the damage to the vehicle, it’s important that everything is properly documented. However, it’s not just the car damage that needs to be evaluated.
A good lawyer knows how this accident is going to affect you down the road. Whether there are medical costs, job losses or other expenses, you want compensation for them all. An itemized list of damages can be presented to the insurance company for the maximum payout.
6. Consult with Professionals
A lawyer can’t know everything there is to know about the damages. That’s why outside professionals are often consulted.
The lawyer will have a team of experts, from a medical team to retired police officers, that can offer input. Whether an injury needs to be evaluated for long-term costs or the specifics of the accident require further investigation, the team of professionals will get to the bottom of it.
7. Negotiate Settlements
Insurance companies would rather negotiate with car accident lawyers than the average person. If you attempt to get paid on your own, they are simply going to lowball you and strong arm you into taking the payout.
With a full personal injury and damage claim put together, there’s much more bargaining power with the insurance company. A professional lawyer knows how to negotiate a fair settlement that ensures you are covered.
8. Represent You in Court
If the insurance company refuses to negotiate with you, the court process needs to be started. The lawyer will handle the pretrial process and file the necessary documents to get the ball rolling.
Additionally, you will be fully represented during the court case, ensuring you don’t need to battle the insurance company alone. Car accident lawyers aren’t afraid to go head-to-head with these powerful companies.
RELATED: 10 Best Car Insurance Companies
How to Choose a Car Accident Lawyer
1. Ask About Experience
You don’t want to use a lawyer that’s just heading into practice. Instead, you want to choose someone that’s been dealing with car accidents for a long time.
Additionally, it’s best if you choose a lawyer that only focuses on this type of law. Otherwise, you are going to choose someone that splits their time between car accidents and other cases, such as workers’ compensation or family law.
2. Investigate Fees
Lawyers are never going to be cheap. It’s just a harsh reality you have to deal with. However, you can find a lawyer that’s reasonably priced compared to some others. Call around and get an idea of the average cost. However, you don’t want to choose your lawyer based on the price alone or you might be disappointed.
There’s also the chance that you will find a lawyer that won’t charge you until the judgment or settlement is complete. In these cases, the lawyer is more apt to work harder since they are going to earn a percentage of what you settle for.
3. Evaluate Communication Skills
Because the lawyer is going to be dealing with your insurance company and possibly going to trial, you want to know that they have a solid personality. It’s not going to go well if your lawyer is impersonal and doesn’t like to talk to people.
Additionally, you want someone that’s willing to answer all of your questions. It’s easy for a lawyer to look smart and lose you in all the technical talk, but you would much rather have someone talk to you in terms you can understand. On top of that, you don’t want to deal with a lawyer that always seems to be in a rush. Instead, they should be willing to take the time necessary to help you understand what’s going on. These are all aspects you can evaluate during an initial consultation, which is usually free.
4. Look Over Office
A lawyer should be organized and well put together. There’s no room for a disheveled or disorganized attorney. Thankfully, you can evaluate a lot of these qualities simply by looking around the office.
When you walk into the attorney’s office, you should instantly feel at peace. Everything should be in its place and there shouldn’t be any clutter. Yes, the lawyer is busy, so there may be mountains of paperwork, but that should never equate to disorganization.
You can also take a look at the office staff. Do they appear to be just as professional and courteous as the attorney? If not, it could reflect how the lawyer runs the office.
5. Review Track Record
Your final evaluation must be to look at the lawyer’s track record. You can start by reaching out to the BAR Association to ensure the attorney is in good standing.
Beyond that, it’s okay to ask for some references. Hopefully, the lawyer can share with you some recent cases where payouts were high and the results were favorable. If the lawyer doesn’t have a track record for you to review, this is a big red flag. Jump ship and work with someone that knows how to get things done instead.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is It Worth Getting a Car Accident Lawyer?
Yes, it can be worth getting a car accident lawyer in most situations if there is an injury or significant material damage. Car accident lawyers can help you get the money you deserve for your injuries, as well as help to ensure that the person who caused the accident is held accountable.
How Long Do You Have to Get a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
You should generally try to get a lawyer within 24 hours after a car accident. However, the time frame differs between insurance companies, but it’s important to do it as soon as possible. The reason for this is that insurance companies often start investigating accidents very quickly, and you want to have someone on your side who knows the law and can help you navigate the process.
Should you admit it was your fault in a car accident?
No. There are a lot of things that can go wrong when two cars collide, and it’s often difficult to determine who is at fault. If you admit that it was your fault, you may be opening yourself up to liability if the other driver decides to sue.
Should I get a car accident lawyer even if it wasn’t my fault?
You are not required to get a lawyer for a car accident that was not your fault. However, it can help you get compensation and avoid liability for the crash. It also depends on how serious the accident is and which insurance companies are involved