Understanding the steps that you should take after a car accident can be confusing. Dealing with insurance, obtaining police reports, and arguing with adjustors about conflicting witness statements takes a toll and can create a whirlwind of emotions and frustration. Add onto those troubles a serious personal injury and you may be facing a complex, drawn-out battle with insurance at the very time you are trying to recover from your injuries.
The good news is that you don’t have to charge into the fight with a surly insurance adjuster on your own. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you with the aftermath of your accident, but more importantly, they can help you recover damages without requiring you to fight the insurance company solo. If any of the following situations apply, it is time to hire a lawyer for your car accident case:
The most obvious reason to reach out to a car accident lawyer is personal injury. If someone else’s negligence hurt you or a member of your family, you should have a personal injury lawyer on your side to help you navigate the process that follows. Studies by the insurance industry consistently show that insurance companies pay out more money to injured people represented by lawyers than to those with no representation…about three and a half times more!
There are a few reasons you’ll want a lawyer on your side. First, many insurance companies only want to pay for medical bills. They may even make a settlement offer up-front. However, it’s rarely worth everything you’re entitled to. After a car crash, you may be eligible for several kinds of damages, including:
● Lost wages
● Pain and suffering
● Loss of enjoyment of life
● Emotional damages
You can seek compensation for all these losses, but you might need an attorney to do it because the insurance company isn’t going to help you get them. Insurance companies are businesses, and their job is to get you to accept a settlement so they can avoid a potentially much larger payout in the future. Once you sign a settlement agreement, you’ll forfeit your right to file a lawsuit or to collect any further monetary damages, so it’s better to approach the aftermath of a car accident with legal representation.
Secondly, if you’re seriously injured, you should hire a lawyer because your initial medical bills might not encompass all of your post-accident medical expenses. It is very common for car crash victims to initially receive medical treatment and then need additional medical attention in the weeks and months after the accident. An insurance company might not want to pay for your future physical therapy, massages, braces, etc. after you go to the hospital. And, if your doctor says you will need care for the rest of your life, insurance adjusters will not want to pay the expenses that accrue years down the road. You will likely need a lawyer if you’re going to collect damages far into the future. If the insurance company argues that the hospital took care of your injuries sufficiently, but you feel otherwise, you will want a lawyer to help you dispute those claims.
Finally, not all injuries are immediately obvious. It’s common for a car crash victim to feel perfectly fine at the scene of a wreck, and even refuse emergency treatment, only to develop long-lasting pain the next morning. In this case, you’ll need an attorney to help you fight the insurance company because it may claim that you weren’t injured in the crash at all.
Almost all car wrecks involve some degree of damage to the vehicles. Usually, the insurance of the at-fault party completely pays for these repairs, but this isn’t always the case. If your wreck has resulted in property damage that the insurance company isn’t fully covering, you need to at least consult with a car accident attorney. The consultation with us is free.
In some cases, the limits of the at-fault driver's property insurance are too low to cover your property damage. For example, if you’re driving a high-value vehicle like a classic car or luxury sports car and the at-fault party’s coverage limits aren’t high enough to cover the damage to your vehicle, the insurance company and the at-fault driver may not want to pay the full repair value. This is also true if the at-fault party damages a vehicle that’s impossible or difficult to fix, such as one whose parts have been discontinued or are extremely limited.
If you’re in this situation, you shouldn’t have to simply accept your losses and move on. However, convincing the insurance company to remedy the situation without a trained advocate will likely be difficult. You’ll need legal representation that can prepare a demand letter to show the insurance company that they owe you money. If that doesn’t work, then your lawyer needs to be ready to go to court on your behalf.
Another situation in which you might have a personal property claim is if the wreck damaged or destroyed something valuable. If you were transporting something personal or you had something valuable in your vehicle that was destroyed when the wreck occurred, such as a fine guitar or a computer, you may be able to sue the insurance company for the value of the item or the cost of repairs. But not all personal property situations are as cut and dried as the destruction of a guitar.
For example, if you were transporting an expensive painting and someone t-boned you, causing a golf club in the car to puncture the canvas, you may be able to argue that the wreck ruined the painting. However, the insurance company likely isn’t going to include this in the settlement they offer you without clear evidence of the painting’s value.
Even if you file a claim, they may try to deny that the wreck caused the damage to the painting. The only way to recover the full value of your damaged or destroyed property will likely involve filing a lawsuit, which will require the help of an experienced attorney.
Unfortunately, some car accident injuries are fatal. Not all these cases open the door for wrongful death suits, but if you’ve lost a loved one to someone else’s negligence on the road, you should consult with a lawyer. There’s a very good chance that the case is worth far more than the insurance company is offering.
You also need to talk to a lawyer if your accident involves some level of negligence that is deemed more dangerous than a simple mistake. Drunk driving is a common example. The driver acted negligently by driving after or while drinking alcohol. This is illegal, and in most cases criminal, so the court may consider the at-fault driver’s conduct to be gross negligence, which could increase the damages.
Another common example is the result of speeding and reckless driving. Someone who drag races on a public street and drives at high speeds is acting outside the bounds of reasonable driving. If they cause a fatal wreck in the process, the survivors should consult a lawyer before settling any claims, because they may be eligible to file a wrongful death suit.
Unfortunately, there are countless scenarios where a negligent driver might accidentally kill someone, so it’s hard to know what is and isn’t considered gross negligence in any state, unless you have a background in injury law. As we’ve already discussed, you can also be sure that the insurance company isn’t going to voluntarily point out that you have a claim for gross negligence against their insured. This is why hiring a car accident attorney is vital, especially after a fatal car crash.
The situations we’ve discussed so far have been relatively specific. However, the truth is that if you’ve been in any kind of car accident, you should call a car wreck attorney and at least have a quick telephone consultation with them. Even if your accident was minor, the benefits of hiring a car accident lawyer to look at your case and guide you through the process are numerous. There may be situations or factors that you don’t notice or know about, and a lawyer experienced in personal injury may notice these details. It’s better to have a personal injury attorney review your case than to try and figure it out on your own.
If you’ve been in a car wreck, give me a call. My team and I will give you a free consultation where we look at the facts of your case and figure out the best course of action. Regardless of how serious your car wreck was, you shouldn’t have to fight the insurance company alone. We’re devoted to helping you take informed next steps so you can protect yourself and claim the settlement you deserve. You can reach me at 720-805-1193.