You already know this is an important decision. In fact, finding the right lawyer from a good shortlist of car accident attorneys may be one of the most important decisions of your entire car accident case.
We're going to help you with that right now.
You should do careful research and select an attorney who has years of proven experience handling personal injury cases such as yours. We want to offer you some helpful tips to find that perfect attorney to get you compensated for your car accident injuries.
Research shows that car accident victims, particularly those with perceived "minor" injuries, are reluctant to hire a personal injury attorney for a number of reasons. Perhaps they don't think they need one, they are intimidated by the prospect of talking to a lawyer, or they don't want to get dragged into court like they see on TV shows. Or maybe they mistakenly believe that they could never afford to hire an attorney or that their injuries aren't that serious.
Whatever the reason, the reality is that not hiring an attorney after a car accident can have long-term negative consequences on your final settlement or award.
While it's hard to quantify exactly how much it helps to hire an attorney since there isn't recent data looking into this issue and cases vary widely, one commonly cited study by the Insurance Research Council from 2004 found that 85 percent of cases where the insurance company settled a car accident claim were handled by a hired attorney.
In this article, Enjuris developed a comprehensive list of tips and advice from reputable attorneys around the country about the benefits of hiring an attorney following a crash. Our goal is to help accident victims understand the settlement difference that having a great attorney on their side can make by providing answers to related questions like:
On average, people who hired a lawyer received 4 to 5 times more compensation than those who didn't. What's more, you're more likely to receive a payout when represented by an attorney.
|Type of injury||Average settlement WITHOUT a lawyer
|Average settlement WITHOUT a lawyer
(adjusted for inflation 1999-2022)
|Average settlement WITH a lawyer||Average payout
|Minor cuts and bruises||$1,166||$1,968||$8,052||$6,084|
Note: Adjusted for inflation 1999-2022 (23 years, cumulative price change = 68.76%)
On average, the insurance payout for car crash victims with an attorney doubled or tripled, compared to those who settled without an attorney.
(Sources: The Insurance Research Council's study, 1999)
Before you even start doing searches it will pay off to have a good idea of the qualities and terms you are looking for in a car accident attorney. This may differ a little according to your case, your personality, your area of the country, even.
These questions will give you a framework for a list you can check off:
Ok, now you should have an idea of the sorts of things you'll be keeping in mind as you look at various law firms and attorneys.
Next, find where to look to start putting together a shortlist of the best car accident attorneys, so you can begin with a strong pool of potential candidates.
There are several ways to find the names of experienced personal injury lawyers. Once you have gotten several names and numbers, you should talk to each of them and check out their level of experience and case results.
Talk to people in your personal and work network. See who has worked with a personal injury attorney before, preferably also on a car accident case. If you get a good referral to an attorney, put him or her on your list.
But do not decide to go with an attorney just based upon someone else's word.
Different people will have different reactions to an attorney. You want to talk to the attorney personally and discuss your case, then make a decision.
If you have a real estate attorney friend, you can ask them if they have a recommendation for a personal injury attorney who could help you with your car accident case. Most experienced attorneys will know other good attorneys outside their area of practice.
It is very common for lawyers to refer business to each other, so this can be a great way to find a good attorney.
Enjuris has assembled a comprehensive Law Firms Directory that you can use to find a local personal injury attorney. When you click on your state, a list of personal injury attorneys will appear who have registered with our website.
When you click on one of the attorneys, a brief profile of that legal firm will appear with their contact information. Some of our featured attorneys have an Ask a Question feature that allows you to provide brief information about your personal injury case. (Let us know if you don't find a good attorney in your state on our site and we may be able to help.) It is up to you to connect with that attorney and to decide if he or she is the attorney you want to represent you.
Most state and local bar associations have a legal referral service where the names of attorneys licensed in the state are listed by specialty.
For example the Texas State Bar has a Lawyer Referral & Information Service that can help you find an attorney that matches your type of case and finances.
Note that the quality of a particular referral service can vary widely. Some of these services will conduct careful screening of attorneys, and list only the most experienced and successful ones.
Other referral services may list any attorney who is in good standing in that state.
Before you choose an attorney through a referral service, find out what its qualifications are for including a personal injury attorney on their list.
When you're ready to talk to a car accident lawyer about your injury, we invite you to browse our national directory of personal injury attorneys. It's free for accident victims and provides lots of information to help you decide which attorney or law firm is best for you.
Since 2000, when I launched my firm to represent accident and injury victims, I've talked to countless grieving families who have lost a loved one without warning in a fatal wreck.
As their attorney, I see it as my job to answer my client's questions, keep them informed, spearhead a thorough accident investigation and prepare them for what to expect as their case moves forward. My job is to seek out the truth of what really happened and effectively present that to a judge or jury, if necessary, to secure the best possible outcome for my client.
Some car accidents are minor and straightforward affairs that can be quickly resolved by each party and their insurance company. However, many cases involve complicating factors such as serious property damage, catastrophic injuries or an uninsured/unlicensed driver.
When there's a speed bump in getting compensation you feel you deserve following a crash, it's in your best interests to talk to an attorney. Most reputable firms offer a free consultation, so it costs you nothing but your time to learn about your rights.
No matter the severity of their injuries, these types of insurance claims are extremely complicated. Injured individuals who try to handle their own claim put themselves at a significant disadvantage. The insurance adjusters understand all the different complexities.
Insurance adjusters, even though they may act like they are, are not looking out for the injured individual. They are looking to close the claim quickly and pay as little as possible. When a self-represented individual settles for too little, or even worse, screws something up because they don't understand the system, they can find themselves in really bad situations. In the worst situations, they owe thousands and thousands of dollars they never knew they would owe.
Attorneys understand the system better than the insurance adjusters do. Having an expert on your side is how you guarantee things will be handled appropriately and that you will receive fair and appropriate compensation.
I am a personal injury and auto accident attorney. I am an expert when it comes to handling personal injury claims. I am not a plumber. I don't try to fix my own toilet because I don't have the necessary expertise to do so. The plumber shouldn't think they can handle their own personal injury claim. I can't do what they do. They can't do what I do.
Who reads the rules before playing a board game such as Monopoly? Do you get money if you land on Free Parking or not? When are you allowed to build houses and hotels? Attorneys are those people who read the rules!
The workers' compensation and personal injury legal system is a heavily regulated area of the law that provides for very specific relief for those who have been hurt. For example, an individual who is injured in a car crash while driving for work cannot just treat with any doctor and expect to get benefits.
Workers' compensation provides for payment of all medical treatment by an authorized treating physician when someone is involved in a work-related accident, including car accidents. This includes payment of medical bills from emergency room visits, treatment by specialists and diagnostic testing such as X-rays and MRI's.
However, there are very specific laws which govern which doctors can be seen and when you can see them. Treating without knowing this information could leave an injured worker with a stack of medical bills and no way to pay for them.
It is important to hire an experienced attorney after a work-related car accident so they can help you take advantage of the laws surrounding workers' compensation because they read the rules!
Getting in a car accident always causes stress and frustration, but if you're injured in the accident, it also causes pain. The experience can be completely overwhelming, and it can be difficult to navigate the complicated personal injury system when overwhelmed.
An experienced attorney can evaluate your claim calmly and objectively, help you avoid the common pitfalls of the system, and cut through the red tape. This allows you to focus on what's most important – your recovery.
Following a car accident, most folks feel overwhelmed, anxious and stressed about figuring out how they are going to get to work, how long it will take them to recover, how they are going to pay for the medical bills and more. They often aren't thinking about the clock that starts ticking the moment the crash occurs.
Consulting with an attorney shortly after an accident allows crash victims to know how much time they have to file a claim under their state's statute of limitations—and how much their claim is potentially worth.
"The Insurance Research Council (IRC) examines the effect of attorney involvement with respect to medical treatment, compensation and the settlement process of auto injury claims. The most recent study published by the IRC concludes that injured people represented by an attorney, on average, receive 3.5 times more money than people who are not represented by an attorney.
The reasons for this disparity are obvious to anyone who has ever been in an accident. The legal system is an adversarial system. When you ask for the money you deserve following a car accident, there is someone—whether it's an insurance adjuster, another driver or a defense attorney—who does not want you to receive everything you're asking for. An experienced attorney can gather evidence, make sure the right documents are submitted, and persuasively present your case.
In addition to the benefits of hiring an attorney, there's no downside. At MVP Accident Attorneys, we handle car accident cases using a contingent fee arrangement. This means we get a percentage of the award you receive. If you don't receive any money, you don't owe us a penny."
"There is a reason that attorneys are also called counselors. The experience of being injured in an accident—even a minor one—can be overwhelming. It can be difficult to handle day-to-day activities, let alone maneuver through a complex legal system.
A good personal injury attorney uses their extensive knowledge and experience to help get you the results you deserve. But, just as important, a good personal injury attorney also guides you through an extremely difficult time with compassion, understanding and a steady hand."
The simple reason to hire a workers' compensation lawyer when there is a work-related car accident is that many, many personal injury lawyers in Arizona do not understand nor know workers' compensation benefits.
For example, in a workers' compensation case, there is no payment for pain and suffering as there would be in a personal injury auto accident case, but there are other benefits that are payable, such as part of the average monthly wage during the period of time that the worker is incapacitated from working and the payment of his medical bills under the Arizona workers' compensation fee schedule. It is best to have a workers' compensation lawyer work in tandem with your personal injury lawyer.
First of all, if you settle the personal injury claim without the approval of the workers' compensation insurance company, you may jeopardize the further benefits under the workers' compensation claim. Most people, many personal injury lawyers included, do not understand that Arizona has a lien statute that allows any benefits paid under the workers' compensation claim to be included in a lien against recovery for any amounts paid in indemnity or workers' compensation medical benefits.
For example, if the workers' compensation carrier spends $5,000 on indemnity benefits and medical benefits, they have the first right, after the lawyer's fees in the recovery of the third-party case to be reimbursed. Someone has to explain this interplay to the injured workers so they understand that there are benefits available under workers' compensation and benefits available under the third-party claim and how those benefits interplay with each other.
In other words, you can't "double dip."
Often, getting workers' compensation benefits in the onset of a case will help the worker secure the medical care and indemnity benefits that he needs right away and await the settlement of the third-party claim. Somebody needs to educate the worker on both of these benefits.
You shouldn't shy away from hiring a lawyer after a car accident because you think your injuries are minor. Sometimes serious injuries take a while to manifest, and it'll be very difficult to establish a causal relationship between a crash and those injuries if you don't take certain steps right after the wreck.
A personal injury attorney will help you seek medical care promptly so that your injuries are documented - laying the groundwork to connect potential complications or severe trauma that's not immediately apparent - to the accident in which you were involved.
Even if your injuries do turn out to be minor, it's still important to seek legal guidance. Minor injuries can cast ripple effects across your life for years to come - impacting your ability to work, enjoy your life, and spend time with your family.
If someone else was negligent and caused a wreck, resulting in these injuries, it's important for you to hold them accountable. Your lawyer will be able to help you increase the likelihood of a win when you need it most.
#1. Early, low ball "snap" settlement offers
A common practice with today's insurance adjusters is to quickly approach the injured party as soon as possible after the accident with a release and a small settlement offer. We call these snap settlement offers because of how quickly the adjuster arrives with a small check and also how fast you sign your rights away for pennies on the dollar.
Remember this: When an insurance adjuster shows up in your hospital room or at your home and is offering $1,000 dollars now to settle your claim, you are releasing the at-fault driver and will not be able to pursue further insurance recoveries.
An experienced personal injury attorney will not let this happen and will work up your case to make sure that first, you are at maximum medical improvement and then secondly attempt to settle your case for full and fair value when the timing is right.
#2. Property damage
Often the first part of the claim to be adjusted is the property damage to your vehicle. Do you need a rental car? Did you suffer loss of use damages? Does your car have diminution in its value now that it has an accident repair on its Carfax record? These are questions that will not be answered by an insurance company unless you have an attorney ensuring your rights are taken care of.
#3. Medical treatment
The most important aspect of an injury claim is your health and the injuries you sustained in the wreck. You need to be made whole. What if you do not have health insurance? A personal injury attorney will have a network of treatment providers who can see you on a letter of protection so that you can get the medical treatment that you need to get to feeling better.
A letter of protection lets the medical provider know that they will be paid out of your eventual settlement funds. The doctor gets paid and you get your medical treatment. An insurance company will not get this set up for you.
#4 Medical bills, pain, and suffering
Who is paying your medical bills? In an injury claim, your medical bills will not be paid upfront by the liability insurance. What about your pain and suffering? How do you even place a value on that? The insurance company will not help you.
A personal injury lawyer with experience dealing with similar past claims can give you a settlement value range for your damages and at the same time ensure your medical bills are paid from settlement funds.
#5. Punitive damages
A lawyer can investigate your claim and determine whether or not there are additional funds available for you above and beyond your settlement damages in the form of punitive damages. Not every case will have these damage recovery types but they can be substantial in certain cases.
An insurance company is not going to proactively offer settlement funds for punitive damages. An injury attorney can evaluate your claim and add substantial value to your case if punitive exposure exists.
What advantages do personal injury attorneys offer in car accident cases?
#1. Increased recovery
Insurance industry studies show that a lawyer settles cases on average 2-3 times more in value than those without an attorney. These are insurance industry studies, meaning it's internal data that objectively proves this.
#2. Knowledge of the law and true value of your case
You may have an offer on the table that is significantly less than the value of your damages. You also may be settling your case prematurely before your true damages even arise. An injury lawyer will know what the value of your case is and can determine the reasonableness of the insurance company's offer.
#3. Take the stress off of your hands
The value in a law firm staff of paralegals and legal assistants is simply taking the stress off of your shoulders. Let's face it, you have enough to worry about and time is precious, especially in today's environment.
Your injury lawyer and the lawyer's staff know what needs to be filed and when, who to call and when, and what actions will add to the value of your injury case.
#4. Help you understand the settlement difference that having a great attorney on your side can make.
Having an attorney work with you on your accident claim benefits you at every step of the process. From the initial talks with the insurance companies, to settlement negotiations, to the trial (if it even gets that far), an attorney will know what to say and more importantly, what not to say.
If you are injured, an attorney can help you negotiate your bills with local doctors to get you the treatment you need as soon as you need it. One accident shouldn't drown you in prohibitively expensive medical bills. It is an attorney's job to make you whole again and as quickly as possible.
Making you whole again includes also dealing with the mechanic. You need your vehicle back as soon as possible, a local attorney will know which local mechanics to trust and how to get the best deals.
The best part, it shouldn't cost you a thing. Virtually all cases accepted by our firm are done so on a contingency fee basis. This means that if we accept your case, you will pay us nothing until our personal injury lawyer collects for you. If we don't collect, you won't owe us a fee.
Humans are a pretty resilient species. Depending on the intensity, it may take some longer than others, but in many cases, humans tend to bounce back from any crisis or car accident. With the ability to heal and the knowledge of the small percentage of people whose lives are forever changed due to an accident, those who are in small accidents tend to look at their situation as the glass half full.
While that is a great way to live, it also means that they aren't recognizing the toll the accident has taken on them and their finances.
Even if they were able to walk away from the accident and avoid a trip to the hospital, they could have emotional and traumatic damages. Beyond having to pay to fix their car, they could have financial damages such as having to take time off from work and nonemergency medical expenses.
There are a number of damages that people have a right to be paid for in the case of an accident despite their 'luck' in it not being worse. A personal injury law firm can help them retrieve what they're owed.
I always tell prospective clients that the main reason that you want to hire an injury attorney, even in what may seem like a minor case because expertise is important. My father-in-law is an electrical contractor who installs solar panels and in the same way that I would never try to install solar panels on my own roof, he would never try to represent himself in a car crash.
The other driver's insurance company is hoping that you don't get an attorney because then they can deal with someone who does not know the ins and outs of the law and just how a case generally works.
There are several known reasons why a car accident victim should hire an attorney, but I will focus on individuals who suffered what they believe are "minor" injuries.
First and foremost, a personal injury attorney will handle all insurance communication on behalf of the injured individual which will help prevent the victim from misspeaking. Accident victims generally don't have experience speaking with insurance carriers and it is not uncommon for them to mislead an insurance adjuster into faulting them for an accident they did not cause. This is why so many individuals complain that their insurance rates have gone up for accidents they did not cause. The attorney will present the information about how the accident occurred and the injuries sustained in a professional matter.
Second, many individuals who suffer minor injuries avoid medical treatment because they do not want to pay medical bills for injuries they believe will go away on their own. A personal injury attorney will determine the best type of medical treatment for the injuries sustained and work to make sure that the medical treatment is covered by either auto or health insurance so that the individual does not need to pay out of pocket.
Third, a personal injury attorney will work to make sure that none of the individual's medical bills go into collections. An alarming number of car accident victims who seek emergency room treatment have no idea which insurance is supposed to pay their medical bills. As a result, they provide incorrect insurance information to the hospital and sometimes fail to provide any insurance information. The attorney will figure out who is owed what and prevent medical bills from going into collections and destroying the individual's credit.
The list of reasons can go on and on, but these reasons are some of the less commonly discussed reasons why people should hire a personal injury attorney. There is a lot more to reason to hiring a personal injury attorney than simply to obtain a better settlement.
Hiring an attorney following a car accident is critical, essential and imperative. I would not attempt to remove my own wisdom teeth. Similarly, a person involved in a car accident should not attempt to navigate the claim and/or litigation process on their own. It is simply not prudent or advisable.
Regardless of the severity of a collision (minor or catastrophic), a person injured in a collision should immediately contact an experienced lawyer. Given the intensity and stress of the moment, overflow of adrenaline, the role of one's nerves, the need to proceed to your planned destination, and the like, may lead one not to immediately feel, recognize, and/or appreciate the nature of an injury at the time of the collision.
Oftentimes, it may take several hours or even days following a collision before pains and/or symptoms begin to fully surface. Moreover, the expert opinions, studies, and/or data of biomechanics establish that even a "low-speed" impact can result in serious and permanent injuries. This is especially the case when dealing with pre-existing conditions, exacerbations, etc.
There are several different benefits of contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer to represent you following a vehicular collision.
First, an experienced lawyer will zealously represent your best interests and assist in navigating the process with your insurance, the at-fault insurance, the property damage aspect of the case, statements or examinations, preserving evidence, liability determinations, medical treatment/diagnosis/prognosis, case evaluation, settlement valuation, maximizing settlement recovery, reviewing correspondence and/or legal documents, drafting releases, etc.
Second, the presence and involvement of the attorney will relieve the client of a great deal of stress in not having to directly deal with the matter.
Third, the lawyer will prevent the insurance company from taking advantage of the client throughout the process and prejudicing his/her interests.
Fourth, most personal injury lawyers take on representation on a contingency fee basis, which means you do not have to come out of pocket for any legal fees or costs unless there is a recovery in the case.
Fifth, the involvement of an experienced personal injury attorney will amplify or maximize the possible recovery in the given case. It could be the difference between a nuisance value offer and the tendering of policy limits.
Insurance companies know how to intimidate injury victims or those responsible for car accidents.
Many people are turned off by lawyer branding activities and therefore are hesitant to hire "ambulance chasers." People should be asking "why should I hire a lawyer", and "what will the lawyer accomplish for me?"
You don't hire a lawyer simply because their branding instructs you that the lawyer is: aggressive, assertive, demanding, doing it for fifty years, or wants to win. You hire a lawyer because you understand the lawyers' true role and what he may be able to accomplish for you.
The most basic benefit a personal injury attorney provides is knowledge. A lack of understanding of the process can cost an injured person tens of thousands of dollars if not more. Permanent injuries inflict a lifetime of expenses, including future surgeries, hospitalizations for complications, modifications to your home, and a decline in your earning capacity.
The insurance companies are excellent at what they do and they lead people to believe they are in good hands. Too often after an accident policyholders trust the insurance companies and do not realize they are losing some or all their rights to receive full compensation for their loss.
Being involved in a car accident, particularly where there are substantial injuries or damages comes with a great deal of paperwork, insurance issues like liability determinations and compensation, and legal implications that can only be navigated by an expert in traffic law and insurance law.
Insurance companies are not obligated to be fair or just in their assessments, and without legal counsel it can be very easy to be taken advantage of by lawyers who work for the insurance companies. Any time there is any physical injury or damage, that is a good indication of the need for a good car accident lawyer.
Regardless of whether you think your injuries are minor or major, hiring a personal injury attorney gives you leverage in negotiating that you would not otherwise have with insurance companies. Personal injury attorneys give you an advantage because they can hire experts such as doctors, accident reconstruction experts, and property damage experts that help prove your case, they have the resources to do that, which will be covered by the proportionally larger settlement.
If statistics are what persuade you, the Insurance Research Council publishes periodic reports on "Attorney Involvement in Auto Injury Claims" and in the latest published report from 2014, it shows that lawyers are still getting over three times more money for their auto-accident clients than those claimants without attorneys.
Another reason that an attorney can benefit you is many times there are insurances involved in the case that you likely would not know about unless you yourself were an attorney or insurance expert. A lawyer can make sure all the avenues for recovering money are explored to the fullest. Some attorneys even have experience working on the insurance defense side of the industry. Those lawyers such as myself have insider secrets from those adjusters and know exactly how to poke holes in their argument throughout negotiations.
Just because someone says that you're responsible for an accident doesn't necessarily mean it's true. Most of the time, there's really no way to know for sure why an accident happened until it's investigated thoroughly - especially by a party other than an insurance company.
Personal injury lawyers have resources and access to experts who can help them make sure that a client's crash is analyzed thoroughly - and that fault is assigned properly.
Most states deal with liability this way: you're responsible for damages up to the degree you were negligent and contributed to a collision. Your lawyer can help to limit your liability for an accident and, in some cases, even set you up to collect damages of your own.
Insurance providers will definitely want to limit the amount of money that's paid out to a crash victim who submits a claim. One popular strategy involves blaming the victim. Why? If you're blamed for an accident, it will affect how much - if any - money you can get.
Depending on where you live, shared fault could decrease your financial award or bar recovery altogether. If you do nothing, you could watch your much-needed compensation disappear. An experienced personal injury lawyer will know how to step in and protect you when this happens.
Your lawyer will conduct an independent investigation, bring in experts, and launch a thorough analysis of your wreck. They'll gather evidence to show that others - not you - are to blame.
And, if you are partly at fault, they'll work hard to limit how big your proportionate responsibility is. In states with comparative fault rules, limiting how much blame is assigned to you can help you get a greater percentage of your damages.
Insurance companies use computers to generate what a person's personal injury case is worth. That makes little to no sense as no two humans and no two injuries are the exact same. An experienced and trial-proven lawyer will assess the value of the particular case and negotiate a fair settlement. What's more valuable is if that negotiation fails, the lawyer is able to pursue the case to court. And that's the most important tool an injured person has—the ability to go to court.
Having a respected lawyer on your side can make all the difference between settling for whatever amount the insurance company's computers say you get versus what your case is actually worth.
A car crash requires an individual to deal with insurance companies, medical professionals and law enforcement. This is especially challenging and inconvenient but many people decide to navigate it all on their own.
Typically, it's because the individual is unaware of how an attorney can provide the best outcome so here are the practical ways we help someone get their life back on track after an accident.
In this day and age, insurance companies' ad campaigns discourage victims of serious accidents from promptly obtaining legal representation or brand them as frauds. In our experience, false or fraudulent cases are few and far between.
Insurance companies have a huge advantage over the average citizen who has limited means to pay for legal counsel, investigation, and expert consultations.
Insurance companies will quickly have adjusters reach out to victims after a wreck and use tricks to have the injured victim say something against their interest that they can later use in court. If the injured victim hires a lawyer, however, the insurance company can no longer reach out to the victim and has to talk to their attorney. This way the victim can get the medical attention they need and focus on their recovery rather than deal with an insurance company that doesn't have their interest at heart.
We've seen too many cases where a victim settled their case on the cheap later to find out their injuries were more serious than they were and nothing can be done about it because the insurance company got the victim to settle quickly and for far less than the case was worth.
I've been involved in over 5,000 cases where an accident was involved, and I see the same things over and over. These cases are complex and if you don't dot all the i's and cross all the t's you can mess up your own case. It happens more often than you think.
Also, injury lawyers often are able to negotiate discounts on your medical treatment that would otherwise be paid in full costing clients thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. Sometimes, these discounts can equal what you end up paying the attorney.
Last but not least, personal injury attorneys know what your case is worth. I get calls weekly from people asking if they should settle their case because the adjuster offered them "X". Sometimes it's reasonable, oftentimes it's not. Only an injury attorney who does this day in and day out will know.
People should hire a personal injury attorney because insurance companies are not looking out for their best interests. An experienced attorney knows how valuable a case may be. An experienced attorney understands what injured people are entitled to as far as compensation for their harms and losses.
Insurance companies want to resolve, settle and have you sign a release as quickly as possible. An attorney will make sure you are fairly compensated.
Every accident - and every victim - is different. That means that related personal injury cases will all be unique, too, especially when it comes to valuation.
How can you know what your case is worth?
It's really hard to say, and the last thing you should do is trust an insurance company to get it right. After all, insurance providers are in business to make money, so they'll want to assign the lowest possible value to your injury claim.
The only way to really know what your case is worth is to analyze your injuries, determine how they'll affect you (today and in the future), and establish liability. That takes time and requires some outside assistance from individuals who have specialized knowledge about medicine, psychology, and other areas.
When you hire a personal injury lawyer, you're not just getting an attorney. You're also benefiting from their vast resources and the relationships they have with experts who might be able to bolster your case. If an insurance company tries to lowball you, your lawyer will have facts, evidence, and expert witnesses to back up your demand for more money.
All persons injured in a car accident, no matter how minor the injuries, should consult with a personal injury attorney. There are a few reasons why.
First, personal injury attorneys will typically give you a free consultation. So there's no downside to talking to someone.
Second, it is not uncommon for a seemingly minor injury to worsen overnight after an accident or in the subsequent days. An attorney can help you understand the importance of seeking medical treatment even if you think the problem is not serious or will go away on its own.
Additionally, an attorney can help explain how to coordinate your car insurance, the other driver's car insurance, health insurance, and other money-related logistics.
Many car accident victims wonder why they need to hire an attorney at all. The simple answer is that hiring an attorney tells an insurance company that you're prepared to take your claim all the way to trial. Without an attorney, the insurance company does not believe there is any threat of litigation (which means paying a defense lawyer and the possibility of a big jury verdict). The insurance company's offer will usually be greater if they fear the possibility of trial.
Furthermore, having an attorney simply gives you peace of mind. You can rest assured that you are getting the best possible settlement from the insurance company because the attorney has years of experience with car accident claims and knows whether or not an offer is fair. Ultimately, hiring a lawyer means you aren't leaving money on the table.
Finally, an attorney will remove much stress from your situation. Instead of having to collect bills and records and provide documentation to various medical facilities, insurance companies, and other entities, your lawyer can handle all that for you. When you're injured in a car accident, the last thing you need is more stress.
accident attorney and CEO of LegalAdvice.com Corp.
The importance of hiring an attorney after a car accident cannot be overstated. Oftentimes people will not hire an attorney when there are minor injuries and especially the case when the police will not even respond to a car accident because there are no serious injuries. Most accidents involve only minor injuries and property damage and these types of accidents occur frequently and pose little danger to public safety.
A person that hires an attorney will receive a better settlement from the insurance because an experienced attorney is better equipped to marshal the facts and evidence to make the most compelling case possible. It is incumbent on a person to take photographs and get witness statements to help determine fault and liability after a car accident. Oftentimes there is no police report to clarify these matters so a qualified attorney that gathers the necessary evidence is essential.
Witness statements of an accident can be extremely helpful in determining whether a car was traveling too fast or clarify other details relating to whether a driver exercised reasonable caution. Proving the other driver's negligence can be a challenge when an accident has multiple causative factors and there is no police report so gather the evidence as best as possible.
Insurance companies, as you well know, are for-profit entities. They're in business to make money. They don't make money when they pay claims to crash victims - so they invest considerable time and resources into finding ways to deny claims or, at the very least, drive down what's ultimately paid out.
The best way to ensure that you're awarded the full value of your claim is to level the playing field, and that requires experience, knowledge, and resources that you just might not have. Nor should have to invest the time and effort to deal with the stress of a claim right after you've suffered an injury.
Hiring a lawyer helps to set you on even footing with huge corporations (and other deep-pocketed entities) and gives you the best opportunity to get the money you deserve.
In many cases, it is very difficult to determine if your injuries are serious within the first month after a car accident. Meeting with an attorney after the accident protects you in the case that your injuries develop into a serious problem.
If you hire a personal injury attorney right after the car accident they will have an investigator that locates witnesses and obtains a written statement from them. In addition, the investigator will speak with local businesses and obtain their surveillance camera footage of the accident.
In the state of New York, you are provided with No-Fault benefits by the Insurance Carrier of the car that you occupied. No-Fault benefits cover your medical bills and lost wages. In order to receive these benefits, you must file an application within thirty days after an accident. Oftentimes accident victims without an attorney miss this important deadline.
The process of receiving lost wages after an accident is complicated. You must provide the insurance company with documentation of your disability and employment. Most accident victims that do not have an attorney do not understand the process and never have their lost wages reimbursed.
Personal injury attorneys will hire well-credentialed experts that are able to demonstrate your physical injuries and prove your economic loss.
Without an experienced personal injury attorney working on your case, you will never know what amount of money is fair and reasonable compensation for your injuries.
Most important is that you do not have to pay anything to hire a lawyer after your car accident. Most personal injury attorneys provide free consultations and work on contingency.
Hiring a car accident attorney is simply one of the best choices you can make after a car crash. There are countless reasons as to why that assertion holds true, the most important one being that a car accident attorney is ethically bound to put your interests first.
Oftentimes after a car crash, people's heads are spinning as they are stuck dealing with medical care, damage to their car, losing time from work and countless other things that come up during those difficult times and they do not know where to turn or what to do. A skilled car accident lawyer can help navigate the entire process, making sure you don't fall into the insurance company's trap of giving recorded statements or helping find qualified medical professionals who will treat them appropriately.
Ultimately the car accident lawyer's job is to prepare a client's case and make every effort to get the client a positive monetary outcome for their case - hiring an experienced car accident lawyer is the first step in that process and can help save you time and effort in getting you an outstanding result.
There are many benefits to hiring an experienced attorney to handle an injury case. An injured victim will be preoccupied with treating for his or her injuries and should allow an attorney to take care of dealing with insurance companies, medical bills, and other tasks so that the victim can focus on getting better. A victim also does not know what issues and landmines exist.
For instance, many people do not realize that they are not required to give a recorded statement to the defendant's insurance company. Insurance adjusters can ask one-sided or misleading questions, and when the victim's comments are then transcribed into a printed transcript, it creates unnecessary obstacles in litigation.
Victims also may not realize that it is vital to identify and preserve important evidence, such as surveillance footage that captured the incident. Video footage is often only kept for a very limited period of time, and if it is not preserved, it can be lost forever. Similarly, it might be necessary to inspect the vehicles involved in the collision, but if they are salvaged, that becomes impossible.
These are all things that an injured victim may not think about, yet they can have a substantial impact (positively or negatively) on the value of the case. Victims quite simply don't know what they don't know.
An attorney can also maximize the value of the client's case. For instance, damages for injuries are based upon the nature and extent of medical treatment. An experienced attorney will know how to gather and assemble the relevant medical records, which may include expert reports from treating providers or specialists to fully document and prove the severity of the injuries.
It is also important to think about the need for future treatment, as a settlement is the one chance a victim has to be compensated for the injuries. It is imperative to think about what might be needed in the future, such as surgery, assistive care, or other treatments – as the value of those items must be included in the settlement demand.
An attorney will also know to think about other elements of damages, such as lost wages and future diminished earning capacity. That may require retaining an economist to examine the client's vocational abilities with the injury-related restrictions and calculate past and future lost wages.
An attorney is also experienced in guiding clients on the value of intangible aspects of the claim, such as pain and suffering, loss of life's pleasures, and other such losses.
If you had a heart condition, you would not sit at home and hope it gets better, nor would you try to fix the problem yourself or through Internet research. You'd consult with an experienced cardiologist so that you have the best chance for success. Hiring an experienced injury attorney is no different.
Many people who have been injured in an auto collision don't realize how important it can be to hire an attorney. There are oftentimes insurance coverages available to help with medical bills right away even before a settlement is reached.
A layperson might not know that these coverages exist or how they can be utilized. Also, the initial investigation and fact-gathering after a crash can be critical. There can be surveillance cameras that show video of a crash that needs to be obtained. There can be eyewitnesses who need to be contacted.
A lawyer can help a person to obtain and preserve this critical evidence before it disappears or memories fade. An experienced lawyer will know what types of damages someone can recover after being involved in an auto crash which better ensures that the person will recover all of the money to which he or she is entitled.
Finally, it is important for people to make sure they hire a law firm that has a record of obtaining great results for its clients. Not all lawyers are the same. Insurance companies know this. If a person doesn't obtain a lawyer, an insurance company may think that it can get away with paying less than what is fair. The same is true when the insurance company knows that it is dealing with a lawyer who is inexperienced or doesn't have a track record of getting great results.
So, not only is hiring an attorney important but also making sure that a person hires the right attorney is critical to getting full value for a case.
The number one reason why you should hire an attorney after being injured in a collision is so you can focus all of your attention on your health and recovery. You need to get better for yourself and for your family. This is especially true if you are the primary earner in your household. You are not getting back to work if you are spending all day talking to insurance adjusters and chasing down paperwork. The last thing you need is the additional stress of dealing with insurance companies, investigators, and appraisers when you're in pain.
Do not think your injuries are not serious enough to contact an attorney. Unless you have made a full recovery and been released from care by your doctor, you don't know the full extent of your injuries. We've had many clients where the injuries did not appear serious in the immediate aftermath of the incident but persisted over time and ultimately required surgery. Even if your injuries do resolve in a short amount of time, you are still entitled to fair compensation for what you went through. If you are ever injured again the insurance companies will use that against you to diminish your compensation. If you didn't make a claim the first time you're costing yourself money.
A personal injury attorney should act as your guide through the claims process and then be prepared to defend your rights if you have to go to court. An attorney will maximize your recovery by making sure you get all of the benefits available to you under your insurance policy, while also making sure that everyone responsible for causing your injuries is held accountable. Many people are not aware that their car insurance may offer benefits such as payment for medical treatment, payment for time missed from work, and payment for your injuries if the person responsible does not have enough money to fully compensate you.
Finally, an experienced attorney should be able to discuss with you the best strategy for making your claim. Questions come up right away such as: who should pay to fix my car? Who pays for the rental while my car is being repaired? They say my car is totaled but I think it's worth more than they are offering me, what can I do? An experienced attorney can answer all of these questions from the top of their head. An attorney should give you guidance and direction, but most importantly, peace of mind while you focus on getting better.
Representing people for decades in car accidents has led me to realize how important it is to have a lawyer involved for both "minor" injuries and major injuries.
One of the top reasons to hire an attorney is to make sure you do not settle your case before you realize the extent of your injuries. I have seen so many times people believe they are not severely injured after a car accident, only later to find that a "nagging" back or neck issue never goes away. This often leads to the insurance company arguing that lack of treatment early on means that neck or back condition had nothing to do with the car accident.
If these people do not have an attorney, they often settle in months before realizing the full impact of their injuries. I often find I need to coach and educate my clients on making sure they receive proper medical treatment to ensure they get better and also document their injuries.
An experienced personal injury attorney understands the pitfalls of not treating early on after an accident and hoping it just heals by itself. Having worked as an attorney for a car insurance company, I understand how insurance companies think and defend cases. They look for a lack of treatment and people returning to work and "toughing it out" as evidence that the injury was not serious.
There have been several studies that continue to show hiring an attorney leads to higher settlements for injury victims. Even inside the industry, these studies show the benefit to the insurance industry of not having an attorney involved.
Unfortunately, insurance companies tend to believe that the injuries and cases are not as serious if the injured victim has not hired an attorney. I know this as I used to be an attorney that worked for a car insurance company. The insurance company's goal was to settle quickly before an attorney became involved.
An experienced attorney can put your case together to make sure it puts your case in the best light. Attorneys know how to make sure you have received the proper treatment; the accident is documented correctly regarding negligence or fault; and that if the insurance company does not offer a proper settlement a lawsuit and jury trial are likely.
This is key.
Unless the insurance company feels threatened that a low settlement offer will result in the case going to trial, they simply will not offer proper settlement value. In the end, insurance companies are for-profit companies and owe a duty to their stockholders to make a profit. Attorneys owe the client their duty to advocate for the client and make sure they receive proper compensation for the long-term effects of an accident. Insurance companies have lawyers, and it simply is not an equal playing field.
In the end, Abraham Lincoln's advice is probably best when he said, "A man who represents himself, has a fool for a client."
Regardless of the severity of your injury, if you are injured as a result of a car crash or a slip or trip and fall, it is important to contact an attorney to discuss your options.
Many times, what seems like a minor injury may turn into a more serious condition that could impact the way you live your life for the rest of your life. If you have delayed in seeking treatment or failed to put the offending person or business on notice of your claim, you may negatively impact your rights or preclude yourself from making a valid claim.
If you watch any lawyer shows on TV, you will hear the attorney referred to as "counselor." The reason is that we are not just advocates. We also counsel our clients on everything from their case to life changes that can be made to make the new reality their injuries have caused easier to deal with.
Just this afternoon, I received a call from a new client who had been trying to resolve a minor case on his own. He had been "lowballed" by the insurance company and now is up against a deadline to file his lawsuit. Luckily he called when he did and we are going to be able to help him, but he almost was a victim of the insurance company dragging his case out until he could no longer file his claim.
Put simply, as attorneys we are here to help and to counsel. All consultations are free and if you do not ask what someone who is an expert in the legal field thinks of your situation, you may be denying yourself valuable help.
While not every person needs a lawyer after being injured in a car accident, there are many situations where an injury lawyer will potentially benefit you many times over – not just financially, but also in terms of peace of mind.
An experienced attorney can help maximize the value of your case by gathering and safeguarding evidence through spoliation letters, hiring experts like life care planners to help explain the full impact of your injuries, and negotiating with insurance companies on your behalf. Personal injury lawyers deal with insurance providers every day and understand the nuanced language often needed to receive a fair settlement.
Most importantly, an attorney should remove the stress of the situation from you so that you can focus on healing without having to deal with relentless adjusters.
There are many reasons to hire a lawyer after even a moderate car accident injury.
First, it takes the problem off of the plate of the injured person and gives the injured person peace of mind that it will be handled correctly. After an injury, the injury victim's world is turned upside down. There are new demands on time such as doctor's visits, therapy, coordinating car repairs, obtaining rental cars, while the existing world's demands still go on. Kids still need to be fed, carpools must be arranged, work still has to happen, or at least provisions made to make sure that critical demands are met. A good injury lawyer helps you put an injured person's life back together and takes tasks off of the plate of the injury victim and their family.
Another good reason to hire a lawyer is that without one the injury victim is apt to make mistakes that can cost him or her thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars. Small mistakes like giving a recorded statement, signing a blanket medical authorization, signing a release not knowing what all it does harms victims a second time, every day, all over our country. In Texas, where I practice, the insurance companies are even allowed to read out an oral release which if agreed to forever binds the victim—even if they do not know what the wording means as it is read in real-time. Not making unforced errors is a very good reason to hire a seasoned personal injury lawyer.
Perhaps the best reason is the bottom line. Claimants with lawyers settle their cases for much, much more money than those without lawyers. A study performed by the Department of Insurance in Texas in 2017 for the legislature indicated that claimants in property damage claims that were represented recovered 300 plus percent more than those without a lawyer. Worrying about a lawyer making a fee is penny wise and pound foolish when evaluating the net dollars to the client.
When it is more convenient, prevents costly errors, and results in more net money recovered, the better question is, "why would you not hire a lawyer to represent you after a car wreck causing any significant injury?"
Hiring a personal injury attorney can benefit you in a number of ways when it comes to a car accident. Firstly, since dealing with personal injury is essentially their job, they have the professional experience to deal with the case properly and follow the right procedures to help you.
Secondly, personal injury attorneys have good negotiation skills. This means that hiring someone might lead to better compensation for the accident and your injuries than if you tried to deal with the issue and insurance companies yourself.
Lastly, having a personal injury attorney on your side will help you to get the entire situation sorted out faster. They'll be able to contact all the right people while you recuperate and get everything sorted for you. If you don't hire someone, you might have to wait till you've recovered before you can start dealing with getting compensation yourself.
Ultimately, you have to decide whether or not it's worth hiring an attorney to represent you in an auto accident claim. The general consensus is that you should at least consult with a lawyer if your car accident resulted in serious bodily injury, significant property damage and/or multiple vehicles.
However, we also recommend scheduling a free consultation with an attorney even if you were involved in a minor car accident. Most law firms offer these initial meetings at no cost, so the only thing it costs you is your time to meet with legal counsel to calculate the value of your case and figure out the best course of action.
Even if you were hit by another driver and injured due to their negligence, you have a right to hire an attorney and, in fact, it's in your best interest to do so. This is because the at-fault driver is likely to be represented by an attorney or their insurance company with lots of resources at their disposal.
By hiring an attorney to represent you, you can even the playing field and ensure that your rights are protected. If you live in an at-fault state where liability determines who pays for the car accident damages and injuries, hiring a lawyer to represent you is especially important since the other side might try to flip the script and say you were fully or partially responsible for the crash in order to avoid payment.
Whether or not the crash was someone else's fault, there are a number of steps you can take following a car accident to maximize your odds of success and the value of your payout. These steps include:
However, the best piece of advice we can give on how to maximize your settlement is to enlist the help of an experienced car accident attorney who knows how to skillfully negotiate with insurance companies and effectively demonstrate the pain your injuries have caused.
The best time to contact a personal injury attorney about your accident is as soon as possible. Understand that insurance companies and the other party's legal team will move quickly to get in touch with you in order to try to pin liability on you or get you to settle for an unreasonably low offer. The sooner they can resolve your claim, before you have a chance to know the full extent of your injuries, the better for them.
Another reason why you should contact an attorney immediately is that every state places a deadline (known as the "statute of limitations") on personal injury claims, ranging from 1 to 6 years. The clock is ticking from the moment your car accident occurs. The sooner you get in touch with a lawyer and the more time they have to prepare your claim, the stronger your case will be and the more options you'll have.
It's easy to feel overwhelmed when searching for an attorney for the first time. Rather than simply calling the first attorney you see on a TV commercial or on a billboard, we recommend asking friends and family for recommendations as well as searching online for lawyers in your area who specialize in your type of case. Simply type in "car accident lawyer in [your city] [your state]" into your preferred search engine and scroll through the results.
Alternatively, you can browse online attorney directories like your local bar association website and Enjuris.com to quickly find and compare lawyers in your area.
Create a shortlist of 3-5 attorneys you like best and contact them to schedule a consultation. By meeting with a prospective attorney, you'll get a better feel for their work style and if they are the right fit for your case.
A personal injury lawyer helps individuals who have sustained injuries in accidents to recover financial compensation. These funds are often needed to pay for medical treatment, make up for lost wages and provide compensation for injuries suffered. Sometimes a case that seems simple at first may become more complicated. In these cases, consider hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer. Read more
Be prepared to be turned down by a few attorneys.
Some attorneys may turn down your case if it is below a certain dollar amount. They may also say no if proving fault is dicey. See 10 reasons a personal injury attorney may turn down your case for a peek into the perspective of a car accident attorney who is evaluating your case.
Sit down with the attorney and talk about your personal injury claim. When you do so, you should bring documents such as:
Most attorneys will not charge you for this initial consultation. If the attorney wants to charge you just for the first meeting, you may want to find a different attorney.
After you talk about your accident claim, here are some important questions to ask:
So you've talked about your car accident case. You've chatted with the attorney about your dealings with the insurance company. Now you want a feel for how much the lawyer thinks your case is worth. Also super important is how difficult it might be to get the insurance company to cough up that amount.
At this point, you should let the attorney know what you want. Is it to:
It's key to make sure you both are on the same page strategy wise. So figure out how badly you need the money. Really bad, so you'll settle for less? Or you have cash in the bank and you are willing to wait for more money?
After you have settled on an attorney, you still have work to do. You need to have a clearly understood fee agreement. And keep in contact with the attorney to know how your car accident case is going.