An experienced injury attorney can be extremely helpful in navigating the often chaotic and confusing world of insurance claims and injury settlements after a car accident. Here's what you need to know:
Hiring a personal injury attorney to represent you after a car accident means you will have a professional working for you—one who is extremely knowledgeable about the relevant laws and procedural rules that may affect your case.
An attorney can advise you of the shared fault rules in your state and how they might affect your case if your own carelessness (negligence) played a part in causing the accident. (Get the basics on fault for a car accident.)
An attorney will also be familiar with time limits (called statutes of limitations) that can bar you from filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. For instance, in many states, you must file your lawsuit within two years of your car accident, or you'll lose the right to take the matter to court. An attorney will also be able to inform you about any special exceptions to the statute of limitations—for example, a minor often has more time to file a lawsuit than an adult.
Your attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf and will know how to respond to defenses raised by the other side. In addition, once your case gets underway, your lawyer will play an invaluable role in preparing your case for trial—and even going to trial if your case doesn't settle.
Even though a lawsuit is rarely necessary, the threat of legal action offers strong leverage when negotiating a fair settlement.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, having an attorney who is knowledgeable about the law evens the playing field, especially when you are going up against the experience and vast resources of a large insurance company.
A lot of work goes into negotiating an insurance settlement, not to mention filing a personal injury lawsuit. After you've been in a car accident, taking on this time-consuming work might be the last thing you want to do, even if you're capable of doing it. Handing things over to an experienced lawyer can reduce your stress and increase your chances of a good outcome.
While this is likely your first time dealing with the ins and outs of an accident claim, car accident attorneys have dealt with all manner of claims and have faced the full range of insurance company tactics. They have experience gathering the necessary evidence to support your claim, including police reports, witness statements, medical records and bills, and employment and lost wage information.
Your attorney will also be able to organize the evidence and write a settlement demand letter to send to the insurance company. If you're unable to settle your accident case, your attorney can take care of filing the necessary paperwork to start a court case and deal with the defense attorneys on your behalf. Having a seasoned professional navigate the day-to-day work of your case eases the burden on you so that you can focus on recovering from your injuries.
Perhaps the most important role a car accident attorney plays is the role of your advocate. Your attorney is ethically required to act with your best interests in mind at every stage of the claim process. Whether it's dealing with a car insurance company or presenting your case to a judge or jury, your attorney will be your champion, making sure your side of the story is heard and that you are compensated for all of your losses.
Learn more about hiring the right injury lawyer. You can also connect with a lawyer directly from this page for free.