When you have been involved in any type of accident, many things can run through your mind. In addition to stress and emotional turmoil, you are immediately faced with handling your insurance claim, damage to your property, bodily injuries, and many other issues. Accident attorneys can help you effectively deal with the entire claim process from beginning to end. This can go a long way in reducing your stress. How can you know when do you need to hire an attorney? And, is hiring an accident attorney the best choice for you?
Here are some factors to consider:
- Property Damage – Loss of property is a common loss after an accident. In addition to your car experiencing heavy damage, in some instances, it can be considered a total loss or may be written off. Typically, the car insurance company has the prerogative to either pay for repairs or deem the vehicle a total loss. Initially, it must be determined whose insurance will cover the costs. If by any chance you are at fault, you will need to seek reimbursement through the at-fault party’s insurer. If you are not at fault, you will generally seek payment through the at-fault parties insurer. If you lack the knowledge and expertise to pursue a more substantial claim, you may need the services of an accident attorney. They can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
- Personal Injury – If injured, getting proper medical care immediately after you are involved in an accident should be the first step you take. Any delay will make it more difficult to prove that your injuries resulted from the accident and may limit the extent of your compensation. The coverage in your insurance policy determines your compensation for medical care. The other driver’s insurance liability coverage will cover your bills if you are not at fault for causing the accident. However, you may seek payment from your personal injury protection plan. Additionally, you can obtain payment from medical coverage in your health insurance policy.
Accident attorney investigation
After an accident, the at-fault party’s insurance company normally initiates an immediate investigation into the accident. This is in an attempt to lessen the amount they might have to pay out on a particular claim. As soon as an investigation is initiated, it is prudent to have an accident attorney complete an investigation of their own. Your accident lawyer’s ability to both collect and present evidence determines the strength of your case. In the investigation, your attorney might determine whether the defendant:
- Drove without a license;
- Violated traffic laws;
- Drove while intoxicated;
- Drove recklessly;
- Failed to pay close attention to his or her surroundings;
- Was driving while distracted, including texting or talking on a cellular phone.
The attorney’s investigation to determine fault might include:
- Reviewing police reports and photographs;
- Recreating the accident scene;
- Requesting cellular phone records;
- Interviewing witnesses and reviewing written statements;
- Analyzing your medical records thoroughly with the assistance of experts to establish causation;
- Extensively researching both parties driving records.
Evaluating your damages
Your accident attorney works with experts to determine the amount of compensation to request and for which particular expenses. This collaboration also works to pinpoint your injuries and expenditures. You might be entitled to the following damages:
- Pain and suffering;
- Property damage;
- Loss of your future earning capacity;
- Lost wages;
- Future and current medical expenses;
- Loss of life enjoyment.
How to initiate a claim
The information obtained by your accident lawyer during his or her investigation comes in handy in initiating a claim. This process serves as the foundation or basis of your lawsuit. Such a claim normally states your damages and/or injuries, request compensation for your damages based on alleged negligent conduct of the other driver. Your claim is of utmost importance in acting as leverage for a jury verdict or reasonable settlement.
An accident lawyer reaches out to the adjuster for the insurer of the negligent driver in an attempt to reach a settlement agreement before filing a lawsuit. If those negotiations are unsuccessful, he or she will submit a claim to the court, which starts the official lawsuit process.
Typically, both parties attempt to negotiate a settlement while simultaneously preparing the cases for trial in order to avoid the risks associated with going to court. If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, the lawsuit will proceed to trial wherein the attorney presents your case. The jury then determines the amount of compensation you are entitled to if any.
How to handle discussions with insurance companies
Typically, claimants first seek compensation from an at-fault party’s insurance company. Always remember that some companies might attempt to either confuse or compel you to agree to an insufficient settlement to cover your losses. An accident lawyer can help you recognize these ploys and avoid them.
What you should do if you are in an accident
After any kind of accident, it is imperative not to discuss the accident or unveil any details with any of the other involved parties involved, especially as it relates to who is at fault. The only people you should talk to are the police, your treating physician and/or your attorney. Any comments or statements you make could potential harm your compensation at a trial or during settlement negotiations. Your attorney can handle your negotiations or insurance discussions on your behalf.
The main problem with auto insurance companies
Sometimes, accident victims are tempted by insurance companies to hold off contacting a lawyer. However, this is typically a mistake. If you believe you have a claim, don’t negotiate or accept a settlement offer without talking to an accident attorney first. Keep in mind that even for people who are well-educated and experienced, procedures, policies, and insurance practices can be complicated. Contact Steinberg Law at our Delray Beach or Palm Beach Gardens offices for a free consultation.
Accident Lawyers FAQs
When should I hire an accident attorney?
If you believe you have a claim, contact us for a free consultation. If you are entitled to compensation, it is best to initiate your claim immediately. The longer you wait, the harder it is to investigate the accident and argue for certain damages.
What should I do immediately after I am involved in an accident?
First, get to safety but make sure to stay at the accident scene. Make sure anyone else involved in the accident is safe and call the police immediately. If you are able, take note of relevant information like license plate numbers, names, phone numbers and insurance information. You can even take pictures of any and all damage.
How quickly should I contact a lawyer?
As soon as you can. After an accident, the ability to collect evidence and make a case is on a timer. The more time that passes the more likely it is for evidence to go missing, witnesses move, injuries heal and memories of the details begin to fade. The faster your attorney can get to work, the better it is for your case.