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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.