“Should I get a lawyer for a car accident?” If you are asking that question, you likely need an attorney. Insurance companies fight claims and seek to offer the lowest possible settlement to protect their profit margins. That incentive can work against you after a car accident. This blog will help you know how an experienced car accident attorney can help you.
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An insurer examines your claim to find holes. While they investigate, they seek to:
None of these scenarios work in your favor. Your best-case scenario is the insurance company making a lowball offer to get you to close your case and settle quickly.
They also attempt to make you settle your claim before you finish receiving treatment for your injuries. That way, they can pay out less while your claim isn’t worth much. Early settlement may also leave you with outstanding medical bills if your condition is more serious than it initially seemed.
However, when you hire an attorney, you gain two advantages, namely:
It is often challenging to handle a car accident claim while recovering from injuries, especially if you have sustained severe injuries like head trauma or fractures. If you hire a car accident lawyer early in the process, your claim will likely end successfully.
Auto accident attorneys offer significant experience collecting evidence for car accident claims. Once you hire one, they will start finding the following:
This information helps an attorney build a strong case in your favor. Those efforts will make negotiations more likely to work in your favor and produce a firm settlement offer.
Also, many of these items are difficult for some people to find or collect. While your car accident lawyer builds the case, you can focus on recovery.
Many accept the first settlement offer because they don’t know any better. So, they undervalue their claim and take the temptation of an available check.
But car accidents come with smaller costs that many people don’t readily notice. If you are attending doctor appointments or running car repair errands, that is time away from work and your household. You can receive compensation for lost wages and inconvenience.
Also, if you are injured seriously enough, you likely need help with childcare, house cleaning, landscaping, and other daily chores. An attorney may suggest other damages that didn’t immediately occur to you.
Finally, the most egregious accidents may warrant punitive damages. These cases are rare, but if you get injured due to extreme indifference, there is a chance the court may wish to punish the other party. In those cases, you may be entitled to extra compensation.
If you wish to prevail in an auto accident case, you must establish that the other driver’s negligence caused your injuries. It is easy to prove this in some accidents, rear-enders, or drunk driving, for example. But sometimes, this element can be challenging.
As mentioned above, insurance companies often try to pin fault on you.
Your attorney can set up your claim to make their claim less effective. Your lawyer can hire experts, get camera footage in disputed fault cases, or even present cell phone data showing the other driver was messing with their device at the time.
Personal injury attorneys litigated many accidents and often have resources and theories unavailable to their clients. This expertise allows them to present factual accident claims to insurers that are difficult to dispute.
Negotiating with an insurance company is full of peril. The adjuster encourages you to contradict yourself. Also, you are busy with work, life, and recovery and can’t answer correspondence timely.
As indicated above, the insurance seeks to throw away your claim or settle it as low as possible. Attorneys know how to continue a productive dialog and see through the tricks. With laypeople, insurance adjusters are likely to mislead or delay claims to discourage them from continuing.
However, most car accident claims never settle. If you don’t have an attorney, you will be stuck if this happens. But attorneys are ready to file a lawsuit and take the matter to trial if negotiations stall. That incentive often encourages an insurance company to offer a reasonable settlement.
There are two types of damages: economic and non-economic. Economic damages, including repair bills, medical costs, and lost wages, are easily documented.
Non-economic damages are more subjective and include pain and suffering and emotional trauma. While these damages are harder to prove, you can still get compensation for them.
Insurance companies may only reimburse you for the actual cash value of your car. Since cars depreciate quickly, the amount you receive may make it impossible for you to replace your car. So, you can request additional money to help you with that purchase.
If your car isn’t a total loss, you can request compensation for repairs. Most car accident victims run car repairs through their insurance company, which then pursues the other driver’s insurance for reimbursement.
All medical bills arising from an accident are compensable. The medical portion can also provide future treatment if you sustain a serious condition or disability. Often, attorneys can also secure additional funds for home remodeling, mobility devices, and car modifications after a disability.
Many people lose time from work after an auto accident. They miss work due to doctor appointments and when they are in too much pain or emotional distress to focus.
Some car accident injuries require time off from work. For example, if you work as an accountant, head trauma may make it impossible to perform your job adequately. So, it would be best if you took time off to heal.
Attorneys document lost wages through pay statements showing income before and after the accident. If work limitations become permanent, you may also receive damages for future lost income potential.
Even minor injuries cause pain and suffering. Whiplash is often underestimated as a “minor” injury. However, it is painful, and victims often suffer headaches and limited range of motion.
You don’t have to suffer multiple fractures or disabilities to receive damages for your pain and suffering. You can establish this even though this category is very subjective. Pain, suffering, and inconvenience can have a dollar value that raises your potential compensation.
Emotional trauma is one step above pain and suffering. Many accidents are so severe that victims develop anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), insomnia, and depression. Besides payments for mental health treatment and medication, you may also receive heightened pain and suffering for what you went through mentally after an accident.
The statute of limitations is a time limit placed on lawsuits. If you don’t file before the expiration of the statute of limitations, you lose all rights to making a claim and receiving compensation.
Relevant statutes of limitations in Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming are:
The statute of limitations starts counting down on the accident date. While 2-4 years seems like a long time, it can move quickly, especially if you’re focused on injury recovery or adjusting to life changes. Therefore, hiring an attorney is essential as soon as possible when you’re in a car accident.
There is no reason to navigate an auto accident alone. Car accidents are disruptive and challenging to handle, especially if you sustain serious injuries. Legal representation makes a big difference regarding compensation. Let us help you maximize it.
Parker + McConkie offers 40 years of combined experience representing auto accident victims in Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho. Contact our knowledgeable personal injury lawyers today at (801) 528-1421, or use our online contact form to schedule a free legal consultation.
Call 801-845-0440 to get in touch with a member of our firm after your accident. We can review your case for free!