The hours and days immediately following a car accident can be especially emotional for you and your family. Not only have you been injured, but you must now begin the time-consuming process of seeking damages against the parties responsible for your injuries.
One of the things you must do is identify your rights against the other driver and the driver’s insurance carrier. This process can get even more complicated if you decide to sue your own insurance carrier.
If you are interested in pursuing a claim all the way to trial or are looking for a pre-trial settlement, a good attorney can help you get what you want. While it is not required or necessary to have a lawyer help you with your claims, the lawyer can deal with all of the legal issues and seek to maximize recovery on your behalf against all responsible parties.
As well, there is no value on the peace of mind that comes with having an advocate on your behalf deal with the entire matter from beginning to end.
Having a lawyer assist you with your car accident claims can be helpful in the following ways:
1. Explaining Your Coverage
Insurance policies for cars can be immensely complicated. The insurance company will determine what to pay you on your claim based on the policy you purchased, which will include any reservations of liabilities and defenses applicable in your state.
In conjunction with the facts of your case, your attorney will review the policy, assess the strength and applicability of each defense and recommend the types of claims you can assert against each party.
2. Negotiating with Interested Parties
An attorney can communicate with the insurance company, other legally responsible parties and lienholders on your behalf to present your claim for coverage. Many automobile claims will include efforts to negotiate a pre-trial settlement.
The attorney can help you determine whether to seek a settlement and identify the potential terms the insurance company will offer. Negotiating for a settlement requires a certain expertise and having an attorney acting on your behalf can help you make the best arguments for why you are entitled to the largest recovery possible.
3. Presenting the Best Evidence Supporting Your Claims
Your attorney can manage many aspects of your case, including identifying and recovering evidence to support your claims. These include efforts to collect documentary and physical evidence from hospitals, the police, the driver and the insurance company.
A lay person typically will not know what exists and what to ask for. The lawyer also will help you sort through the evidence and determine which presents your claims in the strongest light.
4. Helping You Identify All Damages Available for Recovery
Many people injured in a car accident may not know they are entitled to seek a full range of damages, including damages for:
- Medical expenses;
- Lost wages;
- Emotional Distress;
- Pain and suffering; and/or
- Punitive damages.
An attorney will know what damages you can claim based on the facts of your case and what your state allows.
5. Challenging the Other Parties’ Defenses Against Your Claims
You have made your strongest claims against the driver(s) and the driver’s insurance company. They will in turn present their defenses, evidence as to why they are not at fault for any damages or that will mitigate the damages you are seeking.
The defendant will make variations of these defenses, including:
- The statute of limitations has expired. Each state has a certain period of time within which you must bring your claims.
- Failing to do so can extinguish your claims forever. There may be exceptions to this rule for injuries that were not known at the time of the accident or which later developed and stem from the accident.
- You contributed to the accident or are comparatively at fault for the accident. Some states will prevent you from recovering damages if you were at fault in any way for the accident.
- Depending on your state, this might mean you will not recover any damages at all or you will have your damages reduced by your level of fault in the accident.
- Your evidence of proof is insufficient to establish your automobile claims. Many assertions in an car accident claim relate to the other driver’s negligence.
- However, if you are unable to even prove one of the elements for negligence, you will not have fully established your claim and cannot recover your damages.
If you are involved in an automobile accident, you may wish to consult with an attorney who can help explain your rights against the parties at fault. An attorney who is well-practiced with car accident claims in your state can help simplify the recovery process and help you make your claim against all responsible parties in a way that maximizes any award.