Is It Worth Getting an Attorney for a Car Accident?

August 18, 2021

A car accident can be a devastating experience for everyone involved, whether or not the accident was your own fault. At times such as this, it’s all too easy to become overwhelmed by the chaos, making it difficult to determine what to do next. After all, when you’re under a huge amount of stress, it can be hard to pause and determine the most logical course of action—especially when you’re still trying to process what has happened to you. Or, maybe you suffered a significant injury during the accident, and that has most of your attention.

For one, you should never have to choose between your physical and emotional wellbeing, or your finances and livelihood. In all cases, you have a right to receive justice. This includes a fair settlement that accurately covers the damages you have faced following the car accident.

Considering all that you are currently facing, you probably don’t want to add even more tasks onto your plate. With this logic, it can seem rational to skip hiring an attorney and simply lose out on a fair settlement while you take your time recovering. However, this simply isn’t the best course of action in many instances of car accidents.

In the long term, having an experienced car accident attorney at your side, helping to fight for the financial settlement you truly deserve, is only going to make your life easier. The financial repercussions of a car accident can be just as devastating as the accident itself. Perhaps you’ve even suffered a serious injury, and as a result, you’re no longer able to work at your previous job. Maybe you’ve lost out on income while in recovery, or—even more disheartening—you know that you’ll have to continue losing income for the indefinite future. How are you going to recover from this situation and return to the quality of life you experienced prior to your car accident?

This is why it’s so vital to hire a personal injury lawyer in most cases of serious car accidents. Even in the instance of minor accidents, it can still be useful to work alongside a lawyer, in order to ensure you receive a fair settlement. In this blog, we’ll be providing you with a detailed overview of why, exactly, you should hire an attorney after a car accident, which times it is most necessary, and which times you may want to abstain.

What Lawyer Deals With Car Accidents?

If you’re looking to work with an attorney after a car accident, you’ll need to hire a personal injury attorney. Personal injury lawyers specialize in cases where a party was harmed due to the negligence of another party. This “party” can be anything from a person, a company, or another kind of entity. Car accidents are a common kind of case for personal injury attorneys to take on. As such, many personal injury attorneys further specialize in car accidents.

The work of personal injury lawyers is based around a legal area known as tort law. In essence, the focus of tort law involves redressing any wrong done to an individual, providing relief from whatever wrongful acts they’ve faced at the hands of others. Typically, this means awarding the plaintiff with monetary damages, as a method of compensation.

Whenever you work alongside an experienced car accident lawyer, you have the support of someone with a specialized understanding of car accident legalities and the local laws that often affect car accident claims.

What Can a Car Accident Attorney Do for You?

The reality is insurance companies and adjusters just don’t have your best interest in mind. When you get into a car accident, the priority of your insurance company will be to pay you as little money as they can get away with. It’s important to remember that insurance companies are businesses, and like most businesses, profit is their top priority. So, if you opt to work one-on-one with your insurance company following a car accident, this is the position you are likely to find yourself in.

Even if you make seemingly innocent or innocuous comments while speaking directly to your insurance provider, it is still possible to have your words taken and misconstrued as an admission of fault. The best way to avoid this scenario is by working with a skilled car accident attorney who understands exactly how to speak to insurance companies in a way that ensures you’re not unfairly penalized.

So, when you’re recovering from a car accident, what we just described is what your insurance provider can do for you. Really, it doesn’t sound that great, because—at the end of the day—insurance companies aren’t actually on your side. They’re on the side of profit.

But how does the situation change if you’re working alongside a California personal injury attorney? What, exactly, can a car accident attorney do for you? Well, the answer is: they can take care of quite a lot.

With an attorney, the bottom line of the situation isn’t going to be money. Rather, the priority of a competent car accident lawyer will always be to help you, the victim, receive the settlement that you are rightfully owed. As such, your attorney will be there to help you with every step of the process, from beginning to end.

When you contact your car accident attorney after an auto accident, they will immediately get to work on an investigation, gathering evidence that shows the other party’s fault, as well as the full extent of the damages you have suffered. What does this investigative process look like? Well, here’s a quick overview.

How a Car Accident Lawyer Will Investigate Your Situation

  1. Your attorney will begin by acquiring a copy of your accident’s police report. This will give them a broader understanding of the situation before they really dig into the intricacies of the accident and begin finding evidence to determine fault.
  2. Next, your car accident attorney will perform an investigation of the accident scene. Remember, this sort of investigation can be quite useful when gathering evidence of fault and will be at its most effective when you are quick to hire a lawyer. The more time that passes by, the more opportunity there is for key evidence to be lost or destroyed.
  3. Your car accident lawyer will then speak to any witnesses of the accident (if they happen to exist). Again, this process will be far more beneficial if the accident is still fresh in these individuals’ minds. It isn’t especially difficult to forget minor details, or to misremember others, as time goes on.
  4. At this stage, your car accident attorney will be prepared to begin calculating the damages you have suffered as a result of the accident. Damages can come in a variety of different forms; some damages are tangible, such as hospital bills or damage to your vehicle. However, other damages are less tangible, and more difficult to determine. This includes pain and suffering damages, which are damages resulting from a decrease in your overall quality of life, caused by the accident.A skilled car accident attorney will be able to take all of these important factors into account and form an accurate estimate of how much you are truly owed. This way, in court, you will never be fighting for less than you deserve.
  5. Throughout this process, your car accident attorney will also be communicating with your insurance company on your behalf. As we’ve mentioned, experienced attorneys understand just how to speak to insurance companies, without their words being misconstrued or your case being damaged. Having an attorney at your side will also ensure that you understand the true extent of your legal rights during this settlement process.

Is It Better to Get an Attorney for a Car Accident?

In many instances, yes, it is a good idea for accident victims to hire an attorney after suffering a car accident. Of course, like with anything in law, there are exceptions to this rule (and we’ll make sure to cover those later). In the meantime, here is a list of circumstances where it would be wise to hire a California car accident attorney to work alongside yourself.

When Should You Hire an Attorney for a Car Accident?

  1. To start, if you have a limited understanding of personal injury law, then you should absolutely be hiring an experienced car accident lawyer. The legal system is a complicated place, and for those without an understanding or a reasonable level of experience, it’s not difficult to end up getting lost. One wrong step, and you could be losing out on a good chunk of the settlement you would have received had you worked with an attorney.In addition, the insurance claim process can vary quite a bit, depending on where you live. For this reason, you will also need to have a solid understanding of local laws if you want to truly receive the best possible outcome for your legal situation.For instance, California is a pure comparative negligence state. While in some states, drivers who are over fifty percent at fault for the accident cannot collect any damages, this is not the case in California. Due to state law, either party is capable of collecting damages, regardless of their level of responsibility for the accident. Even a driver who is over ninety percent at fault can still collect damages, if they were not one hundred percent at fault for the car accident.

    However, if you are going into the legal process without enough knowledge on this particular state law, you might not understand how to go about filing a claim for your damages. Remember, your word isn’t enough to prove the other driver’s level of fault in the accident. Without legal knowledge, on both the state and federal level, you likely aren’t going to know how to proceed from there. A car accident lawyer will have the hands-on experience and education necessary to tackle each and every step of the legal process.

    So, if your personal injury or general legal knowledge is lacking, then it’s probably a smart idea to hire a skilled California car accident attorney. This is a highly fast-paced process, and you’re not necessarily going to have time to do in-depth research as you work your way through it.

  2. Another instance where you should be hiring a personal injury attorney is if you have a large amount of damages. Keep in mind, when assessing this, that damages come in a wide variety of forms. For instance, some damages you may be owed after a car accident are:
    • Medical expenses (including future expenses, if relevant).
    • Repairs to your vehicle.
    • Lost wages, potentially due to an injury you suffered as a result of the accident.
    • Physical disfigurement due to injuries sustained from the accident.
    • Pain and suffering/an overall decrease in quality of life.

    More broadly, the two forms of damages you could be owed are special (economic) damages, as well as general (non-economic) damages. Special damages tend to be far more tangible, making them easier to calculate. General damages, on the other hand, can sometimes be left up to interpretation, and are best handled by someone with an understanding of the law.

    If you’re owed numerous damages, it will likely be extremely difficult to successfully fight for all of them on your own. In particular, if you’re fighting to earn any general damages that you are owed, this will be especially difficult without a car accident lawyer to support your case. If you suffered extreme emotional trauma, for instance, you are rightfully owed damages for this experience. Without professional knowledge, however, making the case for these damages is no walk in the park. In short, an attorney can help ensure that you receive the full compensation that you’re owed, based on the extent of your damages.

  3. If your claim is denied, or if you receive an unfairly low offer, then it’s best to get in touch with a car accident attorney as soon as possible. Even after you have filed a well-thought-out claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance provider, there’s still a fair chance that this claim will be outright denied, or that you will receive an unfairly low settlement offer. This can happen for a number of different reasons, all of which a car accident attorney is highly familiar with and understands how to work their way around, whenever possible.If you had hired an attorney earlier on in the process, this entire situation could have been avoided. That’s why, ideally, you wouldn’t wait until so late to hire an attorney. If there’s any chance at all that you’ll be requiring a personal injury attorney after a car accident, try to go about hiring them early on. This will work out to your benefit and result in a much smoother settlement process, from beginning to end.Nonetheless, if you don’t hire an attorney early on in the process, this is the stage where it becomes truly necessary. Don’t simply accept defeat when the going gets tough or accept compensation that falls radically short of covering the damages you’re actually owed. An attorney can help you appeal a denial before buckling down and fighting for the compensation that you deserve.
  4. Lastly, if an insurance company is outright refusing to negotiate with you, then it’s absolutely time to hire a car accident attorney. Unfortunately, this is a situation that does happen to many individuals following a car accident—even when they are very obviously not at fault for the accident. If you attempt to negotiate to receive fair compensation but are rebuffed by the insurance provider, then you’ll need to employ the aid of an experienced car accident lawyer. This way, they can handle insurance negotiations on your behalf. Don’t settle for less than you’re rightfully owed.

When Don’t You Need an Attorney After a Car Accident?

Like with any area of law, there are going to be exceptions. In some instances, it may not be necessary to hire a personal injury attorney. Here are a few examples of some of those instances:

  1. If you didn’t suffer any injuries in the accident, then you probably aren’t going to need a car accident attorney to work alongside you. Accidents that don’t involve any injuries may still benefit from legal advice, but you don’t need to hire a personal injury lawyer. Keep in mind that this only applies to situations where there were definitely no injuries, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Even in an instance where a driver sustained minor injuries, it may still be in their benefit to open a personal injury claim. Still, although it is relatively rare, some individuals do walk away from a serious car accident without a scratch.At the same time, don’t simply assume that you received no injuries and then move on without filing a personal injury claim. Sometimes, injuries can take time to fully develop, and by the time they do, there’s a chance that the statute of limitations may have already run its course, rendering you unable to file a claim. As a precaution, after experiencing a car accident, go and get yourself examined by a doctor. A medical professional will be better able to notice any injuries that you might have missed following the accident.
  2. If you receive a fair settlement offer right off the bat, then there’s no need to file a personal injury claim. However, even if you feel like the offer you’re receiving takes care of all your damages, it’s vital that you think this through. Sometimes, a settlement offer may seem to cover all of your immediate expenses, that might not be the case. If you’re not careful, you could be missing out on significant compensation that, at the time of the accident, you were unaware that you were owed.As we mentioned earlier, sit down and really think about all the damages you could be owed. Make sure you’re accounting for both special and general damages, including aspects such as pain and suffering. If you’re currently faced with a wide variety of costs from several categories, you could be underestimating just how much you’re actually owed.At the very least, in instances like this, it’s wise to consult with a car accident lawyer. During a consultation, an attorney will be able to help you determine whether or not the settlement offer is truly fair, based on all the damages you could be owed. Even if you are on the fence about hiring an attorney, it is still worth taking advantage of consultation services. This way, an experienced legal professional can give you an estimate of what a truly fair settlement looks like. If it turns out that the insurance company’s offer is less reasonable than you had realized, then you’ll be able to pursue legal action. Always fight to receive the compensation that you’re owed.

The Importance of Proving Negligence During a Car Accident Claim

Proving negligence is a vital component to a successful car accident claim. This is an area where a car accident lawyer will have substantial skill and understanding. Your attorney will undergo a thorough investigation of the accident, in order to uncover any available evidence proving negligence of the other driver.

Whenever a driver willfully fails to use the appropriate amount of care needed in a situation, compared to what a reasonable individual would use under the same conditions, this driver’s actions are considered negligent under the law. This is a key component to proving fault during a car accident claim.

On the road and everywhere else, individuals have the duty of care to behave in a way which minimizes potential harm to those around them. If someone gets behind the wheel of their car only to actively disobey traffic laws and drive in an unsafe manner, they are failing to uphold duty of care. Thus, their driving would be considered negligent, and they would be the party at fault, should an accident occur.

In order to succeed in a car accident or other personal injury claim, four factors have to be proven by the prosecution. These are:

  • It must be proven that the defendant had a legal responsibility to use reasonable care, regarding their interactions with the plaintiff.
  • It must be proven that the defendant failed to uphold that duty, instead acting in a way not typical of a reasonable individual.
  • It must also be proven that the defendant’s breach of duty, whatever that may have been, led to injury or harm to the other party.
  • Finally, it must be proven that the defendant suffered injury or losses, which could be compensated through recovering monetary damages.

The state of California practices pure comparative negligence, so either party could be deemed partially responsible for the accident and still be eligible for damages. The more at-fault you and your attorney are able to prove the other party, the more damages you will receive (and, in turn, the less the other driver will receive). In order to prove that the other driver was at fault, you’ll need to prove that they were acting in a negligent manner and failing to uphold duty of care on the road.

How Much is a Car Accident Settlement?

The actual settlement you receive following a car accident can vary a great deal, depending on the unique circumstances of your situation. As we’ve discussed, the particular damages that an individual is owed can vary quite a bit, and there are a number of potential damages you could opt to pursue.

Still, at its core, a car accident settlement should result in fair reimbursement for all the expenses you paid out relating to the accident, as well as any pain and suffering you may have experienced due to what happened.

In order to ensure that you’re receiving fair compensation for your experience, it’s highly beneficial to work with a car accident lawyer. Considering there’s no one size fits all way to determine a typical car accident settlement, it’s best to work alongside someone who has a first-hand understanding of what a fair settlement actually looks like for an array of different accident scenarios.

Further, with the in-depth investigation performed by your lawyer, they will be able to present the judge with every detail needed to determine your settlement. This way, nothing will be overlooked, and you’ll be far less likely to miss out on any compensation that you’re owed.

The best way to get a general idea of how much you’re owed, prior to receiving an estimate from a lawyer, is this: take whatever you’ve had to pay in medical expenses, car repairs, and lost wages, and then multiply that by three. This will provide you with an extremely rough estimate of how much you could expect to receive, once the settlement is complete. Still, this is far from the perfect way to determine a fair settlement; the truth is, car accidents are all unique, and determining fair compensation involves too many factors to be condensed into a simple formula.

A judge will begin by taking a look at the type of injury you sustained, as well as the treatment plan you’re on, the length of therapy or rehabilitation, the loss of income you have faced as a consequence of the accident, and the overall severity of the car wreck. More often than not, a settlement isn’t going to be offered until you’ve completed all the medical treatments you were faced with. However, if you sustained any permanent injuries during the accident, this will be accounted for, and it will impact the amount of compensation you are given.

In the case of accidents where an individual sustains either a serious or a permanent injury, you should expect a higher settlement payout. Further, if the other driver was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you should also expect a higher settlement.

If you were to look at the situation from an insurance company’s perspective, there is still no specific, industry-wide formula for determining an average settlement payout. If your car has sustained damage in the accident, then you can expect to be reimbursed based on the limits of your particular policy.

It’s important to note that pain and suffering compensation is only given in circumstances where a party was injured. As such, make sure that you receive an examination from a doctor, as soon as possible after the accident. This will further ensure that you are receiving the full compensation that you’re rightfully owed.

However, keep in mind that some injuries won’t become obvious until several days after the car accident. A common example of this is whiplash, which won’t be immediately evident to you. Don’t negotiate a settlement before you’ve been examined by a doctor or before you have consulted with a car accident lawyer. Additionally, if you delay receiving medical care, you may not receive the appropriate compensation for your accident injury.

If you opt to file an injury claim with the other driver’s insurance provider, keep in mind that you will be limited by their policy maximum. So, if you’re faced with this situation, you will need to sue the other driver individually in order to reclaim whatever money you are still owed.

Hire a Reliable and Experienced California Car Accident Attorney

If you’ve recently suffered a car accident in the Carlsbad, CA area, then it’s time to get in touch with the Law Offices of Craig Castle. With several decades worth of personal injury experience under his belt, Craig understands exactly how to get you the settlement you fairly deserve. A car accident can be an overwhelming and often distressing experience, so don’t take on the burden of your claim alone. You should never settle for inadequate compensation. Instead, Craig Castle can work to prove the other driver’s negligence, allowing you to collect the largest potential settlement. In order to schedule a consultation, contact the Law Offices of Craig Castle through their website.