What Do Car Accident Lawyers Do?

June 17, 2024

After a car accident, you may face a range of stressful and overwhelming challenges. During this time, you might wonder if you need a car accident attorney.

A car accident attorney can serve as your guide, advocate, and ally after a crash. They can help you with the legal side of things, protect your rights, and fight for the compensation you deserve. But how do you know if you need a car accident attorney, and what can they do for you?

Keep reading to discover the vital role a car accident attorney can play in your recovery and how they can help you move forward after a car accident.

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The Aftermath of a Car Accident: What You Need to Know

Even if the car accident wasn’t your fault:

  1. Report the accident to your insurance company. Provide them with all the necessary details, including the police report number, if available.
  2. Seek medical attention if you haven’t already done so, even if you feel fine. Some injuries may not immediately manifest, so get a record of any medical treatment related to the accident.
  3. Gather all documentation involving the accident, including the police report, photos of the damage and the scene, witness statements, and the other driver’s insurance and contact information.
  4. Record all expenses incurred due to the accident, such as medical bills, repair costs, rental car expenses, and lost wages if you missed work.
  5. Be cautious when communicating with the other driver’s insurance company. They may try to get you to settle quickly or give a recorded statement. Consult your insurance company or an attorney before providing any statements or agreeing to a settlement.
  6. Hire a personal injury attorney who handles car accident cases, especially if you suffered significant injuries or property damage. They can protect your rights and negotiate with the insurance companies on your behalf.

The Role of a Car Accident Attorney: A Detailed Overview

A car accident attorney is a type of personal injury lawyer who helps people injured in traffic collisions caused by another party’s negligence.

Their primary role is to represent your interests and help you receive fair compensation for the physical, emotional, and financial burdens resulting from the crash.

A car accident attorney can:

  • Communicate with insurance companies
  • Gather evidence and records to build your case
  • Identify all potentially liable parties
  • Calculate the true extent of your damages
  • Negotiate with insurers for a fair settlement
  • Represent you in court if needed
  • Handle complicated paperwork and legal procedures

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most important things a car accident lawyer can do for you:

Dealing With Insurance Companies

Car accident attorneys communicate with insurance companies on your behalf. In the days after an accident, you can expect to receive calls from insurance adjusters, both from your own insurer and the other drivers.

Remember, while they may sound caring, insurance adjusters ultimately work for the insurance company, not for you. Their goal is to settle your claim as quickly as possible. As a result, they may pressure you into accepting a lowball offer.

An experienced car accident lawyer knows these tactics and will shield you from them. They will handle communication with insurers, ensure you don’t say anything that could jeopardize your claim, and fight for the maximum compensation you’re entitled to.

Investigating and Building Your Car Accident Case

To pursue a successful car accident claim, you’ll need evidence to prove that the other party was at fault and demonstrate the extent of your damages. A skilled car accident attorney will thoroughly investigate your case to gather all the facts and documentation needed.

This may involve:

  • Interviewing witnesses and obtaining their statements
  • Examining police and accident reports
  • Reviewing photos and videos from the scene
  • Analyzing medical records detailing your injuries and treatment
  • Consulting with accident reconstruction specialists
  • Obtaining expert testimony supporting your case
  • Researching the driving history of the at-fault party
  • Uncovering evidence of negligence, like traffic violations or vehicle defects

Using their legal knowledge and investigative resources, your attorney will build the strongest possible case to prove liability and damages. The more compelling the evidence, the greater your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome.

Identifying All Liable Parties

Many accident victims assume they can only bring a claim against the other driver.

However, additional parties with legal liability may include:

  • The other driver’s employer, if they were working at the time of the crash
  • A bar or restaurant that overserved a drunk driver
  • The manufacturer of a defective vehicle or auto part
  • A municipality responsible for a dangerous road condition

A knowledgeable car accident lawyer will identify all potentially liable parties and pursue all possible avenues for compensation. This is especially important if the at-fault driver lacks sufficient insurance to cover your damages.

Calculating Your Damages

Damages in a car accident claim fall into two main categories: economic (financial losses) and non-economic (intangible losses).

Economic damages may include:

  • Current and future medical expenses: Depending on the severity of your injuries, medical costs can range from a few thousand dollars to millions over a lifetime. For example, the average cost of a hospital stay after a car crash is around $60,000.
  • Lost income and reduced earning capacity: If your injuries prevent you from working, you can claim lost income. The average car accident victim loses $26,000 in wages. You may recover significantly more if your earning potential is permanently reduced.
  • Property damage to your vehicle: Vehicle repair costs vary widely based on the extent of damage, but the average collision claim is about $3,500. If your car is totaled, you can claim its fair market value.
  • Out of pocket costs like transportation to medical appointments: These expenses can add up quickly. For instance, the average cost of an ambulance ride is $1,200.

Non-economic damages are more subjective but equally important. They include:

  • Pain and suffering: While difficult to quantify, pain and suffering awards can be substantial. Some insurance companies use a pain and suffering calculator that multiplies your economic losses depending on injury severity.
  • Emotional distress: Car accidents can cause severe mental anguish, PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Emotional distress awards can range from a few thousand to millions in extreme cases.
  • Disfigurement or disability: Permanent scarring or disability can greatly impact your life. Average settlements for severe scarring or disfigurement can exceed $50,000, while disabling injuries often result in settlements over $100,000.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life: If your injuries prevent you from engaging in activities you once enjoyed, you can seek compensation. While highly variable, these awards can be significant for devastating injuries.
  • Loss of consortium: The average settlement for loss of consortium ranges from $30,000 to $40,000, but can be much higher for wrongful death or severe injury cases.

Many accident victims greatly underestimate what their case is truly worth. They may only consider their immediate medical bills without accounting for future treatment needs.

A car accident lawyer will gather documentation like medical records, bills, pay stubs and expert analysis to calculate the full spectrum of damages you’ve incurred. They’ll work to maximize your compensation by accounting for less obvious damages.

Settlement Negotiation

Most car accident claims are resolved through out-of-court settlements with insurance companies. However, achieving a truly fair settlement requires skilled negotiation by an attorney who understands insurers’ tactics.

Your car accident lawyer will draft a demand letter detailing liability and your damages, then talk with the insurer to work towards an appropriate settlement figure. This is both an art and a science – your attorney must use compelling evidence and legal arguments to justify a higher settlement and know how far to push without jeopardizing a resolution.

Throughout the process, your car accident lawyer will advise you on the merits of each offer and the risks and rewards of accepting a settlement vs. proceeding to trial. The final decision will always be yours, but your attorney will arm you with the knowledge needed to make an informed choice.

Litigation and Trial

While most claims settle, sometimes an insurer refuses to make a reasonable offer. If a fair agreement can’t be reached, your lawyer may recommend filing a personal injury lawsuit and taking your case to court.

Litigation is a complex process involving strict legal procedures and deadlines.

Your car accident lawyer will handle all aspects of your case, including:

  • Drafting and filing legal documents
  • Engaging in the discovery process to obtain additional evidence
  • Attending pre-trial hearings and conferences
  • Deposing witnesses and experts
  • Representing you in mediation sessions
  • Presenting your case at trial before a judge and jury

At trial, your lawyer will present persuasive arguments, examine witnesses, cross-examine the defense’s witnesses, and fight to convince the jury to rule in your favor. Even during the trial process, settlement negotiations may continue. Sometimes the credible threat of a lawsuit is what’s needed to pressure insurers to improve their offers.

The Importance of Acting Quickly

Statute of Limitations in a Car Accident ClaimIt’s important to understand that there are strict time limits, known as statutes of limitations, for filing car accident lawsuits. These deadlines vary by state and by the specifics of your case, but generally range from one to six years from the date of the crash.

If you miss the statute of limitations for your claim, you may lose your right to pursue compensation, even if you have a strong case. That’s why you need a car accident attorney as soon as possible after your accident. They’ll file all of your paperwork correctly and on time to protect your right to recovery.

Additionally, evidence to support your case can disappear or degrade over time. Witnesses can forget important details or become hard to locate, surveillance footage can be erased, and physical evidence from the scene can be lost. Involving an attorney early improves your chances of securing vital proof to support your claim.

What to Look for in a Car Accident Attorney

Not all car accident lawyers are created equal.

To ensure you have the strongest possible advocate in your corner, look for an attorney with the following qualities:

Be wary of attorneys who make overblown promises or pressure you to accept a quick settlement. A truly skilled lawyer will take the time to understand your unique needs, give you honest advice about your case, and fight tenaciously for the best possible outcome.

Get the Help You Need from a Skilled Car Accident Attorney

You can more than likely tell by now that the aftermath of a car accident is no easy feat, especially when you’re trying to recuperate from painful injuries. You should focus on your health and recovery, not battling with insurance companies.

Working with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer gives you peace of mind during a turbulent time. A good attorney will lift the burden of legal concerns from your shoulders, fight tirelessly to protect your rights, and work to secure the maximum compensation you need to move forward with your recovery.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a motor vehicle collision, don’t hesitate to contact the experienced car accident attorneys at Grife Law Firm. We offer a free consultation to review your case and advise you of your legal options.

With our skilled advocacy and compassionate service, you can focus on healing while we fight for the justice you deserve. Give us at (561) 998-0770 when you’re ready.