Is It Worth Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer?
Whether it is worth hiring a car accident lawyer depends upon your circumstances. In the United States, injured claimants can represent themselves. If you decide to do this, you will be solely responsible for calculating your damages, negotiating with the insurance company, proving fault and liability, managing communications with the involved parties, and perhaps even filing a lawsuit. While recovering from your injuries, this might seem like a lot to take on by yourself. For that reason, you may find value in hiring a car accident lawyer.
Your legal team will set many goals throughout your personal injury case. Yet, one of its biggest goals will be to recover compensation for you and your family. Your lawyer will employ various measures to prove negligence, identify all possible avenues of seeking financial recovery, and handle the bulk of your legal matters.
The decision of whether to hire a car accident lawyer is completely up to you. However, you might want to consider the benefits of seeking representation.
Should I Hire a Car Accident Lawyer for a Minor Accident?
What may initially present itself as a minor car accident could quickly turn into a complicated situation. You may have hidden injuries that have not yet been diagnosed by your health care team. The liable insurance company may not be willing to compensate you for your losses fairly. Again, the decision of whether to hire a lawyer in any circumstance is completely your decision.
When you team up with a car accident lawyer, they will address the following challenges that may arise throughout the development of your case:
- Your lawyer will work to counteract any unfair insurance practices that undervalue or deny your claim.
- Your legal team will identify all potentially liable parties and work to negotiate a pretrial settlement.
- Your lawyer will evaluate the cost of your economic and non-economic damages and assign value accordingly.
This is not meant to serve as an exhaustive list of how a car accident lawyer can help you.
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What Is the Average Settlement for a Car Accident?
How much compensation you might recover will rest on the details of your case.
Some circumstances that could influence the value of your case include:
- What your auto and health insurance cover
- The medical treatment your injuries required
- The cost of your ongoing damages
- Whether your car was damaged or totaled in the collision
- The willingness of the insurance company to settle
- Whether anybody died from their injuries
- The type, nature, and extent of your injuries
Your lawyer will utilize various pieces of information to determine the cost of your out-of-pocket expenses. They will consider your particular circumstances while also referencing state law and legal precedent.
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What Damages Can I Collect for a Car Accident?
The damages you can collect for a car accident will rest on the many details of your situation. For instance, some states allow injured claimants to collect certain types of damages, while other states do not.
Some general types of recoverable damages include:
- Your health care expenses: Following a car accident, many states allow you to recover the “reasonable” cost of your medical bills, including hospitalization, emergency transportation, and surgery. You might be awarded money for the medical bills you have not incurred yet.
- Lost income and reduced earning capacity: If your injuries affected your earning power, you might be able to recover compensation for this loss. This includes the income you lost during your recovery period and any marked difference in your earning power due to your long-term injuries.
- Property damage costs: The collision may have totaled or damaged your vehicle. Your auto insurance may cover many of these costs. However, if it does not, you can include them in your demand letter, which an attorney can also help you with.
- Pain and suffering: The physical and emotional trauma of being in a car accident has value, per the Legal Information Institute (LII). Again, you may be able to include this cost in your demand letter.
When you seek legal representation, your lawyer can explain what other damages you can recover.
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Can I Sue Someone Personally After a Car Accident?
If the involved insurance policies do not fully cover the cost of your damages, then yes, you can sue someone personally after a car accident. Most states require motorists to carry some amount of liability insurance. Depending on your state, you might be able to recover compensation through the liable party’s insurance policy. However, if not, you might need to file a lawsuit to get the money you need.
When you work with a lawyer, they will first try to settle your case through insurance negotiations. If this does not work out, then they will file a lawsuit against the at-fault party.
They will accomplish this goal by:
- Filing your lawsuit and its paperwork to the appropriate offices
- Informing the defendant(s) of your legal intentions
- Evaluating the cost of your damages
- Arguing your case before a judge
- Filing your case within the appropriate statute of limitations
- Making in-court appearances on your behalf
Most car accident cases do not go to court. Yet, if yours does, a lawyer could help you.
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Will My Car Accident Lawyer Deal with the Insurance Companies for Me?
Yes, your car accident lawyer will deal with the insurance companies for you. Many injured claimants worry about being taken advantage of while they try to recover compensation. Unfortunately, many insurance companies have a reputation for needlessly denying or undervaluing claims. In addition to handling all communications with the involved insurer, your lawyer can also work to counteract any bad faith insurance practices that threaten your claim.
They can also:
- Draft and send your demand letter
- Review the details of the involved policies for coverage options
- Communicate with the claims adjuster and other representatives
- Address any obstacles that delay the progression of your claim
- Advise you on what statements could harm your case
After learning about your collision and injuries, the insurance company may step in and offer you a quick settlement. While this may initially appeal to you, the insurance company’s offer may not be enough to cover the cost of your accident-related damages.
Your lawyer can advise you on the feasibility of any offers you receive. If you do not receive any fair settlement offers, they can file a lawsuit and argue your case before a judge.
How Long Does a Car Accident Claim Take to Settle?
There is no information regarding how long a car accident claim takes to settle. Your case’s timely resolution will depend on the cost of your damages, the insurance company’s willingness to settle, and any obstacles that impede your case’s progression. You might be able to settle your case within a matter of days. However, if certain complications arise, it could take months for you to settle your claim.
After being faced with health care expenses, lost income, and other associated damages, you may be anxious to settle your legal matters quickly. Yet, this might not work to your advantage, especially if your claim does not take into account future expenses you have not yet incurred. You do not want to prematurely settle your claim because doing so could leave you with out-of-pocket expenses.
Once you accept money from an insurance company, your case is over no matter what they tell you. Even if you incur additional expenses, the insurance company will not be responsible for compensating you. When you contract a car accident lawyer, they can work to resolve your claim promptly. They can present the insurance company with evidence that works to achieve a fair resolution to your personal injury case.
Do You Have to Go to Court for a Car Accident?
In most cases, you do not have to go to court for a car accident. However, it may be necessary to go to trial if issues of fault and liability are not clear or if the insurance company refuses to extend a fair settlement. If you must go to court to recover compensation, you will need to do so within your state’s statute of limitations. Some states allow up to three years to file a lawsuit, while others allow only one year. Certain facts of your situation may extend or toll your state’s deadline.
Furthermore, when you go to court, you will need to present evidence that demonstrates fault, liability, and negligence. Your ability to successfully argue your case will determine whether you receive compensation for your expenses. You may choose to work with a car accident lawyer who can undertake this responsibility for you. They can handle all communications with the other party’s legal counsel, compile all relevant evidence, and present the cost of your damages.
What Happens if the At-Fault Party Does Not Have Car Insurance?
If the at-fault party does not have car insurance, you may be able to file a claim with your own insurance company to recover compensation. You might have underinsured or uninsured motorist insurance that may cover the cost of your various expenses.
If you live in a no-fault state, you would first file a claim with your insurance company rather than the at-fault party’s. This may allow you to recoup some of the costs associated with your medical bills and lost income. However, if you do not reside in a no-fault state, and you do not have uninsured motorist protection, then you might need to file a lawsuit to get financial recovery.
A car accident lawyer can review the facts of your case and determine the options you have for recovering compensation. You may have uninsured motorist protection included in your insurance policy. You may live in a no-fault state. Yet, even if you do not, you have legal options. Your lawyer can handle the obligations that go into presenting your case in court and recovering compensation through a personal injury lawsuit.
Who Can Be Sued in a Car Accident Case?
There are many types of people who can be sued in a car accident case. These can include the driver who hit your vehicle, the company that the driver works for, a manufacturer who allowed a defective part to sell, or a mechanic who did not treat your vehicle with care.
As every car accident is different, there is no way to know how many parties could be involved in your case prior to an in-depth, independent investigation. By analyzing the evidence in your case, a lawyer could help you explore all available avenues for compensation.
You may also be able to pursue damages from a municipality or organization that did not properly maintain or design the road or intersection where your accident occurred. There may be time limits that are relevant to your case if you decide to sue a municipality.
Speak with your legal representative about this factor as soon as you can. This way, you will not miss out on the chance to hold the responsible parties accountable for harming you.
What Should I Do in the Days Following a Car Accident?
Following a car accident, there are many things that you could do to make the processes of pursuing compensation and healing from your injuries easier. These can include:
- Filing a claim with your insurance company
- Seeking medical attention
- Documenting your accident-related losses and expenses
Once you establish that you are in stable condition, you should record your experiences before, during, and after the accident itself. This way, you will have all the information regarding the accident before it fades from your memory or other peoples’ accounts cloud your understanding.
You can also keep a journal regarding your pain levels and treatment progress. This can help you prove how the other party’s negligence harmed you and interfered with your daily life.
Your lawyer can guide you through the process of beginning your fight for compensation. This journey does not involve speaking to insurance companies, however. That is one thing that you should not do. Leave this kind of communication to your lawyer.
What Should I Do at the Scene of a Car Accident?
At the scene of the accident, there are ways that you can protect your right to compensation. These actions can include:
Do not post on social media or admit that the accident was your fault. There may be aspects of the accident that you are unaware of, such as the other driver’s blood alcohol concentration.
Calling for police and/or an ambulance can ensure that you get treated. It can also allow for an accurate and official crash report. The responding officer can record every relevant detail. If you and the other driver just agree to drive away and file a report later, you may forget some important details, such as the weather conditions or a broken traffic light.
Recording All Information that Could Help Your Case
Some things that can all help you after an accident can include:
- Taking photos
- Recording audio with the permission of all people in the vicinity
- Gathering contact information of the drivers involved in the accident
- Writing down what you notice that could prove important
What Percentage Do Car Accident Lawyers Take?
The percentage that your car accident lawyer will take from your settlement or judgment will depend upon many factors. These can include the amount of damages you are awarded, the cost of your accident-related losses, and your lawyer’s expectations for payment.
If your lawyer works on a contingency fee basis, you will agree upon the percentage of your settlement that the lawyer will receive. You and your lawyer will sign an agreement so that you will both be on the same page. Many lawyers take about 33% of the settlement or judgment, but there is no certainty that this is what you should expect to pay.
You can do your research on the law firms that you are interested in. They may state information regarding their services on their website. You may also be able to find information about attorney’s fees on online rating boards or in testimonials of the firm’s services from past clients.
These people’s accounts may be able to guide you toward the percentage of your settlement that you can expect to surrender to your legal representative.
What Lawyer Deals with Car Accidents?
The type of lawyer that deals with car accidents is a personal injury lawyer. These kinds of legal professionals handle cases regarding accidents where the victim wants to seek compensation for their broken arm, pain and suffering, or dented fender.
Some ways that a lawyer could help you seek compensation for your car accident-related losses include:
- Analyzing the evidence that supports your claim
- Valuating all of your damages
- Filling out paperwork
- Speaking with any eyewitnesses of the accident
- Securing the police and crash reports
- Searching for any past complaints or evidence of negligence on behalf of the at-fault party (or parties)
- Making you aware of your legal rights
- Representing you at trial, if the need arises
- Negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf
Your legal team can do other things for you, depending on the circumstances of your crash. For instance, if you lost a loved one in an accident, your lawyer can help you file a wrongful death lawsuit for damages specific to this kind of case.
What Can I Do to Protect My Rights After a Car Accident?
One thing you can do to protect your rights after a car accident is to speak with a lawyer who can make you aware of your rights. They can look over your case to tell you if you have a right to seek compensation, for instance.
Some other things that you can do would include not endangering your case. This can include making sure that you do not state (or imply) that the accident is your fault. Avoid discussing the details of the accident with the other driver, with an insurance company, with your loved ones, or on social media. Insurance adjusters will search for any opportunity to place blame on you.
Secure all the evidentiary documents you have at your disposal to prove that the accident did, in fact, cause all of your injuries. These can include receipts, photos, videos, your written account of the accident, and the crash report.
Be sure to seek medical care after the accident and retain a lawyer who can stand by you throughout the case.
How Much Will it Cost to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
If you retain a lawyer who works on a contingency fee basis, you will not know the specific dollar amount that they will expect at the end of the case. A lawyer will likely take a percentage of your settlement or judgment. They will take into account how much you will have to pay for current and future losses when they value your losses and send your demand letter to your insurance company.
Your lawyer will place your accident-related losses as a priority when helping you divide the sought-after settlement amount.
How Much Should You Settle for After a Car Accident?
Your lawyer can help you determine the specific figure you should pursue from the at-fault parties in your car accident case. You will only be able to accept a settlement from an insurance company once. So, you will need to take future costs into account.
For instance, if your accident-related injuries result in a long-term condition, then you may want to pursue a settlement that will cover your projected medical costs for the rest of your life (or your condition).
Additionally, insurance companies may utilize tricky negotiation tactics meant to get you to take a settlement that does not fairly compensate you. A lawyer can help you handle the negotiation phase. You will not have to talk to an insurance adjuster after hiring a representative.
Your team can look at your accident and how the crash affects your entire life. They will want to make sure you have enough to pay all accident costs, compensate you for your pain and suffering, and pay for their attorney’s fees. Discuss with your lawyer what this specific figure might look like.
How Much Is a Rear-End Accident Worth?
Each case is different, so it is difficult to say how much a specific rear-end accident might be worth without first considering the details. If a person was grazed by another passenger vehicle on a residential street and only suffered a mild whiplash injury, they may receive less of a settlement than an individual who was paralyzed after an accident with an eighteen-wheeler.
Either of the examples above could also involve other vehicles, other negligent parties, and long-term costs (like psychological therapy to treat post-traumatic stress disorder).
Allow your lawyer to apply a value to all of your losses. This may be difficult for intangible losses, but it is possible. Some non-economic damages your lawyer could help you analyze include:
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of a loved one
- Loss of limb
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
Economic losses are easier to add to your claim, as you have receipts that state exactly how much a bottle of over-the-counter medication for your bruises cost, for instance.
How Much Do Lawyers Charge for Accident Claims?
Reach out to a firm you are considering working with and discuss the cost of a representative’s services with their team. They can give you an honest expectation of the cost and how much work a lawyer can put into your case. Many law firms offer free consultations regarding your case.
It is during a free consultation that you can ask any questions that you may have. The law firm will ask you questions as well (mostly regarding the accident and its aftermath). After this conversation, you can be sure of whether you want to work with the firm—and how much of your settlement of judgment your lawyer might take to pay their attorney’s fees.
Reach out to the law firm of your choice to speak about their payment options. They may have different options or might be able to work with your specific situation.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit After a Car Accident?
Every state sets a statute of limitations on filing a lawsuit for compensation after a personal injury case. These statutes include cases that involve car accidents, regardless of the type of collision that occurred, though some exceptions may apply. According to the California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) §335.1, the statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident. A different limit may apply for wrongful death or property damage cases.
There are situations in which a state’s general statute of limitations may not apply. For example, cases against a local municipality, county, or state often have a more restricted timeline. Depending on the circumstances, you may have no more than a few months to prepare and file a personal injury lawsuit.
Meanwhile, there are also circumstances that may allow you to extend the statute of limitations on your case. The court may choose to delay cases involving a minor, a natural disaster, or another extenuating circumstance. Regardless of when your deadline to file falls, failure to initiate this process in the time allotted will result in you losing the right to sue.
Can You Sue for a Rear-End Collision?
It is possible to sue another driver for a rear-end collision. If a driver rear-ended you and caused your injuries and financial losses, you have a right to seek compensation for these damages. In most cases, the driver who committed the rear-ending is responsible for the collision. Each driver has a responsibility to look out for potential hazards ahead on the road, including vehicles that are decelerating or completely stopped.
Negligent actions—such as driving under the influence or while distracted—can keep a driver from noticing when a vehicle ahead applies the brakes, thus inhibiting their ability to avoid a collision. If you or your attorney is able to provide evidence of the other driver’s negligent actions, this can support a personal injury claim.
Some claims can be resolved through insurance companies or an out-of-court settlement, while others may require an appearance in court. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may receive an award to cover your medical expenses, vehicle damage, time out of work, and other losses.
When Should You Get a Lawyer for a Car Accident?
It can be beneficial to hire a lawyer after any car accident, though it is most advisable if you have experienced severe injuries or major expenses from the collision. When you suffer significant damages, the need to secure compensation may be vital to your recovery. Moreover, it can be difficult and even impossible to handle the legal process on your own while you are still healing or adjusting to life-changing injuries.
To seek compensation, you will often need to collect evidence that proves the other driver’s liability, accounts for all of your damages, and defends your case to the insurance company or in court. Taking these steps may be overwhelming under the best of circumstances. A personal injury lawyer who takes on your case can handle these steps for you, navigating the law and fighting for compensation on your behalf.
While you do not need a lawyer to help you file an insurance claim, having one by your side can come with many advantages. Negotiating with an insurer can take time and quickly become tedious, requiring you to put your life on hold while waiting for a settlement offer. Moreover, the offer you receive may not adequately compensate you. An attorney can handle these negotiations for you while you get back to your life.
How Do I Find a Good Car Accident Lawyer?
Look for a personal injury lawyer who has experience with motor vehicle accident cases like yours. The law firm should have the resources necessary to retrieve evidence and other important documents, build your case, and fight for a fair settlement or judgment.
Find out if the firm regularly handles car accident cases, if they handle cases on contingency, how often they will update you on your case, and how they will help you build your case and pursue compensation.
Types of Car Accidents
Car accidents can occur under many different circumstances, with many resulting in minor damages, while others leave lasting impacts on those involved. The severity of the damage often depends on where the collision occurred, the speed of the driver or drivers involved, and whether or not any negligent actions played a role.
Some collisions may involve two or more drivers, while others affect pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists. Common types of vehicle accidents include rear-endings and side-impact collisions, which can result in injuries ranging from whiplash to traumatic brain injuries. Some of the most devastating accidents involve head-on collisions or rollovers. Most accidents occur due to driver error, though faulty parts, vehicle maintenance, or road work can also be to blame.
Depending on the circumstances of your accident case, you may be able to pursue compensation from a negligent driver or another party who is liable for your injuries. Different types of accidents may provide various forms of evidence to prove negligence and liability in a personal injury case.
What Do Car Accident Lawyers Do?
The ultimate goal of a car accident lawyer is to build a case that proves a client’s eligibility for compensation. This means proving the negligence and liability of another party regarding the client’s car accident injuries and losses. The process of building an effective personal injury case and securing compensation on behalf of a client involves multiple steps.
First, an attorney must review the case and investigate the circumstances of the collision. Gathering relevant evidence will allow the lawyer to identify who and what negligent act caused the accident to occur, whether it was a driver, a government entity, or another party. Once there is evidence of negligence, the lawyer can begin to build a case that shows why the negligent party is liable for the injuries the client suffered.
An attorney can also calculate the types of damages and the level of compensation the victim is eligible to pursue. Finally, a lawyer can file the case for damages with an insurance company and negotiate a settlement or proceed with a lawsuit to fight for a court award. Your legal representation can guide you through the entire process and navigate the legal system on your behalf while you recover.