If you’ve been in a car accident, you may be wondering if you need to hire an attorney. An auto accident attorney plays a crucial role in helping accident victims get the compensation they deserve. In this article, we’ll discuss the key responsibilities of an auto accident lawyer and why their services are so valuable after a crash.
Gather Evidence and Build Your Case
One of the most important jobs an auto accident attorney has is gathering evidence to prove the other driver’s liability. This can include obtaining police reports, interviewing witnesses, taking photos of property damage and injuries, preserving vehicle damage, downloading car computer data, and more. An experienced attorney knows how to secure and document the evidence you’ll need to get full compensation.
They will use the evidence to build a strong legal case demonstrating that the other driver was at fault and owes you damages. Having an airtight case with solid evidence gives you the best chance of recovering a full and fair settlement for your injuries, vehicle repairs, lost wages, and other expenses.
Determine the Value of Your Claim
Assigning a dollar amount to injuries and vehicle damage can be tricky. An auto accident lawyer will look at all your damages from the accident, calculate their worth, and come up with a demand amount from the insurance company.
Factors that go into claim value include:
- Medical expenses from injury treatment
- Future medical costs
- Lost income and reduced earning capacity
- Property damage deductible and repairs
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Punitive damages in egregious cases
An experienced attorney knows how to properly value accident claims and will fight to get you the maximum settlement.
Negotiate with Insurance Companies
Insurance adjusters represent the interests of their company, not yours. They will often try to get you to accept a quick, lowball settlement. An auto accident lawyer acts as your advocate in settlement negotiations. They will deal with pushy adjusters, reject unfair offers, and fight for the full value of your claim.
Having a skilled negotiator on your side levels the playing field and makes it much more likely you’ll walk away with a just settlement rather than getting shortchanged.
Take Your Case to Trial If Needed
Most accident cases settle out of court. But sometimes negotiations reach an impasse or the insurance company simply refuses to offer fair compensation. An experienced auto accident attorney won’t hesitate to take your case to trial if that’s what it takes to get you the damages you deserve.
Your lawyer’s litigation experience and courtroom skills will be invaluable if your claim does go to trial. They know how to effectively argue your case before a judge and jury. And they understand the litigation process inside and out.
What causes most car accidents today?
Car accidents can be caused by a variety of factors. Here are some of the most common causes of car accidents today:
Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention away from driving. This includes texting, talking on the phone, eating, using navigation systems, adjusting the radio, and more. Taking your eyes off the road for just a few seconds can lead to a crash.
Drunk driving remains a leading cause of auto accidents. Driving while impaired by alcohol slows reaction times, decreases coordination, and impacts judgment. Even a small amount of alcohol can dangerously impair driving ability.
Higher speeds give drivers less time to react and increase the severity of accidents. Speeding reduces a driver’s control of the vehicle. Speeding combined with other risky behaviors like distracted or impaired driving heightens the accident risk.
Reckless behaviors like unsafe passing, tailgating, failure to yield, and running red lights greatly increase the odds of a collision. Many reckless driving accidents are caused by aggressive or impatient drivers.
Fatigued driving causes thousands of accidents every year. Warning signs of drowsy driving include yawning, difficulty keeping eyes open and focused, drifting between lanes, and inconsistent speed.
Inclement weather like rain, snow, fog, and ice make driving more hazardous. Poor visibility, slippery roads, and impaired traction contribute to weather-related crashes.
Faulty vehicle parts like defective brakes, worn out tires, broken headlights/taillights and more can lead to accidents if problems are not fixed promptly. Proper vehicle maintenance helps avoid mechanical issues.
Staying focused, sober, and calm while driving is key to avoiding accidents. But even defensive drivers can end up crash victims due to the negligence of others. Always drive safely and be alert.
What should I do after a car accident?
Being in an auto accident can be scary and overwhelming. Here are some key steps to take after a car crash:
Seek Medical Attention
Your health should be your first priority. Even if you don’t have obvious injuries, see a doctor as soon as possible. Symptoms like pain, headache, dizziness or nausea may not show up for hours or days. Getting promptly checked out will document your injuries for your claim.
Call the Police
Alert law enforcement to the accident scene. An officer will prepare an official report detailing statements from drivers and witnesses, take photos, document evidence like skid marks, and assign fault. Having a police report can strengthen your insurance claim.
Get the other driver’s name, insurance details, driver’s license number, phone number, and license plate. Also provide them with your insurance and registration info. Report the accident to your insurer promptly.
Document the Scene
Take photos of property damage, injuries, and the accident location from different angles. Capture weather and lighting conditions, street signs, tire marks, and more. Thorough pictures help document what happened.
Get Witness Info
If any bystanders saw the crash, ask for their contact details. Witness accounts of what occurred can be crucial evidence if fault is disputed.
Seek Legal Counsel
Contact an experienced auto accident attorney for guidance on preserving evidence, interacting with insurers, calculating damages, and pursuing the compensation you deserve. They will protect your rights every step of the way.
Staying calm under stress and taking the right steps after an accident can have a big impact on your recovery and claim. Report all details to your insurer promptly and retain legal representation.
What types of compensation can I claim after an auto accident?
If you are injured and your vehicle is damaged in a car crash caused by another driver’s negligence, there are various types of damages you can claim through an insurance settlement or lawsuit:
This includes ambulance fees, hospital bills, costs for surgery, medications, assistive devices and rehabilitation. Future predicted costs for ongoing treatment are also included.
Any wages lost due to missing work for treatment and recovery can be claimed. Decreased earning capacity from disabilities or long-term injuries can also be factored in.
Car repair or replacement costs, deductibles paid out-of-pocket, rental car fees and damage to personal property in the vehicle are reimbursable.
Pain and Suffering
You can make a claim for physical and emotional distress from injuries like trauma, scarring, anxiety, PTSD and chronic pain.
Loss of Consortium/Companionship
If injuries limit relationships with your spouse or family, these damages cover that loss of intimacy and companionship.
In cases of gross negligence or intentional harm by a driver, punitive damages meant to punish and deter egregious behavior may be awarded.
Consult with an experienced attorney to ensure you receive full and fair compensation for all accident-related losses. Don’t settle for less than you deserve.
What questions should I ask a potential auto accident attorney?
If you’ve been injured in a car crash, choosing the right auto accident attorney is key to getting the damages you deserve. Here are some important questions to ask during an initial consultation:
- How much experience do you have handling auto accident injury cases? Look for an attorney experienced in car insurance claims and settlement negotiations.
- What is your success rate? Ask about their record obtaining favorable settlements and verdicts for clients.
- What will your role be in handling my case? The attorney should directly manage your case themselves, not pass it off to assistants.
- How will you investigate my accident? They should use crash reconstruction specialists, photographs, witnesses and more to build evidence.
- What is your fee structure? Most attorneys take auto accident cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if you receive compensation.
- What expenses will I be responsible for paying? Understand what out-of-pocket costs for experts, court fees, etc. you may incur.
- How frequently will you update me on my case? Open communication ensures you understand each step in the legal process.
- Do you think my case may end up going to trial? Get their perspective on the likelihood
After a car accident, contact an auto accident attorney right away. They play a crucial role by gathering evidence, calculating claim value, negotiating your settlement, and taking legal action if needed. With an attorney fighting for you, you can focus on recovery – not hassling with the insurance company.