What Does a Car Accident Lawyer Do?: After your car accident, a car accident attorney can gather information from the accident, give you legal advice, negotiate with insurance companies, and help you pursue compensation for your losses, so you can heal from it and get back to your normal routine.
Car Accident Lawyer Do?
Car accidents can be traumatic for the victims. From lacerations and bruises to traumatic brain injuries and broken bones, victims may suffer a range of serious injuries, some of which may require several weeks and thousands of dollars in medical and rehabilitative treatments. Harder still is the loss of a loved one in a car accident.
After a crash, recovery should be a priority. However, when you are well enough, you may also want to consider seeking support from a car accident lawyer. On top of the physical and emotional burden from the car accident, you may encounter financial hardship as you deal with medical bills, vehicle repair or replacement costs, and lost wages.
From speed limits to distracted driving laws, state and federally enforced measures promote safety and prevent collisions. Nonetheless, crashes are a common problem throughout the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), projections show that 36,120 people died in car accidents last year.
When someone disobeys local or federal traffic laws or drives recklessly or irresponsibly, they should face the consequences for their actions. This can include traffic tickets, license suspension, fees, and even jail time, depending on the offense and harm caused. They may also be responsible for compensating the victims.
If the liable party is insured and their insurance company covers the incident’s losses, then it may pay the victim for losses such as medical bills and property damage. However, if they are underinsured, uninsured, or their insurance providers’ payout is insufficient, a victim may wish to file a personal injury lawsuit.
How a Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
Car accident lawyers can be a valuable resource in any of the above circumstances, as pursuing financial awards for your losses can be a complicated endeavor.
First, the victim must prove who caused the accident and establish the sequence of events and circumstances that contributed to the crash. They will also need to gather evidence to support their claims, which may include eyewitness accounts, police reports, medical reports, and receipts for repairs.
The plaintiff may also need to communicate with insurance companies and the other party or its legal representative. While some personal injury suits resolve with a settlement, it is sometimes necessary to take a claim to civil court.
A car accident lawyer can assist you with:
- Conducting an investigation, reviewing police reports and medical records, and gathering eyewitness testimonies
- Demonstrating the circumstances surrounding the crash, as well as the sequence of events leading up to it
- Proving who was at fault
- Building a case based on the details of the incident
- Establishing a strategy to seek compensation on your behalf
- Communicating with insurance companies, lawyers, and other involved parties on your behalf
- Representing you in negotiations or a court of law, if necessary
- Keeping you updated throughout the process and address any concerns or questions you have
Some cases may be more difficult to investigate than others, like accidents involving rideshare companies, commercial trucks, public transportation, and sanitation vehicles.
In any of these circumstances, there may be more than one liable party or the liable party may be a corporation or city or state government. A car accident lawyer can help ensure you abide by the relevant procedures when it comes to dealing with these kinds of parties.
Statute of Limitations
Every state has statutes of limitations that set deadlines for plaintiffs to file lawsuits against another party, as the Legal Information Institute (LII) defines it. The statute of limitations varies depending on your location and the party against whom you are bringing a claim.
For example, the statute of limitations to bring a suit against another civilian may be two or three years, whereas you may have only six months to bring a suit against a local government. The statute of limitations is not the same as the timeframe within which you should file an insurance claim. You should always file a claim or at least notify your insurance company as soon as possible. Some providers specify you must notify them within a “reasonable time” for your claim to be valid. Again, these times may vary across states.
Losses Associated with Car Accidents
Car crashes can result in a variety of losses. This can range from a totaled vehicle to debilitating physical injuries, as well as emotional pain and suffering, including anxiety and post-traumatic stress. A car accident lawyer can help you identify all of the losses you have suffered and what type of compensation you may be eligible to pursue.
You may receive compensation for the following after your car accident:
- Cost to repair or replace property
- Cost of current or reasonably anticipated medical bills
- Lost wages for the time you missed because of your injuries
- Reduced earning capacity if your injuries were so serious you are unable to return to your previous position
- Emotional pain and anguish
- Loss of consortium
- Funeral and burial costs (if a loved one died as a result of their injuries)
How an Attorney Can Help With Your Car Accident Claim
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you might be wondering exactly how an attorney can help you. In this article we’ll cover what a car accident lawyer brings to the table, including:
- organization and analysis of key evidence and records
- a network of investigators and experts who can help strengthen your case, and
- negotiation skills that will get the best outcome for your car accident claim.
What Will My Car Accident Lawyer Do?
While much depends on the specifics and the complexity of your car accident case, in general a lawyer can:
- communicate with the other driver’s insurer
- obtain the necessary evidence with respect to fault for the accident
- organize your medical records and bills
- communicate with your health care providers to obtain missing records
- work with your doctors to make sure they provide the medical information you need so that you can prove damages in your claim
- organize and present the evidence in order to prove liability and damages
- negotiate with lien holders on your claim (such as health, disability, or workers’ compensation insurers) to potentially reduce the amount of those liens, and
- negotiate a satisfactory settlement with the insurance adjuster or defense attorney.
- Let’s look at a couple of these things in-depth.
Communicating with the Other Driver’s Insurer
In any personal injury case, your lawyer will open up a line of communication with the insurance adjuster for the other party (or parties) involved. The adjuster has the pocketbook, and so it is critical for a plaintiff’s lawyer to have good communications and a good relationship with the adjuster.
Obtaining Necessary Evidence of Liability
A good lawyer can help obtain all of the evidence that you will need to prove liability in a car accident claim. Although you may have already taken photographs of the accident scene, your lawyer will probably go back to the scene him/herself to see what it looks like. While a picture may be worth a thousand words, actually seeing the scene can be worth a thousand pictures.
The lawyer will make sure to get all of the accident or police reports in the case and will often speak with the investigating police officers and witnesses. A good lawyer will leave no stone unturned when it comes to obtaining evidence of liability. Learn more about proving fault for a car accident.
Obtaining Necessary Evidence of Damages
This is where a good lawyer can be essential to your case, especially when you’ve suffered significant car accident injuries.
It is critical to obtain all documentation related to your injuries, but it isn’t always easy to get your hands on those records and bills from health care providers. Although the records are technically yours, and you have an absolute right to them, sending medical records to patients and lawyers is just not a health care provider’s first priority.
Small doctors’ offices may not have the staffing or the time to respond to medical record requests on a timely basis. Large hospitals may have specific procedures that must be followed in order to respond to medical record requests. If you don’t follow their procedures (which they often don’t publicize very well), they simply won’t respond to your request.
Then, when the health care provider does respond to the request, the records may be incomplete. Any lawyer’s secretary or paralegal will tell you that they often have to request the same records more than once and that they have to follow up endlessly with the provider’s office.
Finally, it may turn out that the doctor did not use the “magic words” as to causation, prognosis, and disability in his or her notes. In order to successfully prosecute any type of personal injury claim, you must be able to prove, through medical evidence,
- exactly what your injury, disability, or physical limitation is, and
- that it was caused by the defendant’s negligence.
Doctors often don’t mention causation and extent of the injury or disability in their medical records. If this happens in your case, your lawyer will write the doctor and ask for a special letter in which the doctor gives his/her opinion that the accident caused your injury or disability and that, as a result of the accident, you will be hindered or disabled for a specific period of time.
Negotiating With Lien Holders | Accident Lawyer
If you received benefits from a health, disability, or workers’ compensation insurer, that insurer will have a lien on your claim. A lien means that the lien holder gets paid before you do, out of any settlement or judgment you receive. A good lawyer will work with the lien holder to try to get the lien holder to reduce its lien. This is important work. Every dollar less that the lien holder takes is one more dollar that goes into your pocket. Learn more about health care provider liens on personal injury settlements.
Negotiating With Insurers/Defendants
Negotiation is a very specific skill (some might even call it an art). A personal injury lawyer is always going to be far better at settling a car accident case than a layperson would be. A good lawyer knows how much the case is worth and knows how to work the case and conduct the negotiations in order to arrive at the best outcome for the client.