Car accidents are scary. Even at low speeds a collision can cause tremendous damage and loss of life. If you have been in a car accident, one of the big questions on your mind is, how am I going to pay for all of this? This is when you might consider turning to a car accident lawyer. But how do car accident lawyers work?
What Is A Car Accident Lawyer?
If you have been involved in a car accident you may want to seek compensation. Especially if the accident left you with life altering injuries, medical expenses, property damage, or psychological harm. You may also want to seek compensation if the accident resulted in the death of a loved one. Car accident lawyers specialize in these types of cases.
Car accident lawyers like the ones at Olmstead & Olmstead, P.C. can handle cases involving all types of vehicles. These might include trucks and SUVs as well as passenger and commercial vehicles. They will be familiar with many different types of accidents, including:
- Rear-end collisions
- Head-on collisions
- Side-swipe crashes
- T-bone accidents
- Left/Right turn accidents
- Intersection collisions
- High speed crashes
- Distracted driving
- Drunk driving
However, sometimes the case is not so straight forward as the scenarios listed above. Your case may involve multiple at-fault drivers, or has left you with permanent and debilitating injuries. In these instances it is especially important to hire a lawyer who specializes in representing these kinds of cases.
When Should I Get A Lawyer?
You should hire a car accident lawyer as soon as possible, usually within a week or two of the accident. If you wait any longer you run the risk of missing important deadlines to file your claim. An experienced car accident lawyer will know these deadlines and help you fill out all the necessary paperwork. Your lawyer will also help you avoid costly mistakes you might make when trying to handle the case on your own. Depending on the complexity of the case or the severity of your injuries, it can take months or even years to reach a settlement. So the sooner you hire a lawyer, the better.
What Does A Car Accident Lawyer Do?
You have decided to hire a lawyer, but how do car accident lawyers work? What exactly do they do? An experienced car accident lawyer will help in the following ways:
- Communicate with the other driver’s insurance company
- Collect evidence of liability
- Collect evidence of damages
- Negotiate with lien holders
- Negotiate a settlement
Dealing with the aftermath of your accident is stressful enough. Your lawyer will take over communication with the various companies and individuals involved in the case. They will save you time, money, and stress while handling your claim.
Communication with the Insurance Company
Depending on when you retain a lawyer, they can help you file your claim. If you have already filed your claim, the lawyer will take over communication with the other driver’s insurance company. Insurance companies are notorious for trying to deny accident claims. Their reasoning for why they denied your claim can sound pretty convincing. Your expert car accident lawyer will be familiar with these tactics and how to counter them. They can help cut through the noise to ensure you receive appropriate compensation.
Collect Evidence of Liability
No one wants an at-fault accident on their driving record, so usually both drivers will claim they did not cause the accident. Even if the other driver admits fault you may still need to present proof that they were at fault to have your claim paid out. This can be a tricky process if you are not familiar with car accident forensics. Your lawyer will collect and analyze the following evidence to support your claim:
- Police reports
- Eye witness statements
- Physical evidence from the scene
- Skid marks, debris, etc.
- Angles of impact
- Video or camera footage
If needed, your lawyer can also request further vehicle data or get expert testimony to prove liability. If you are not able to reach a settlement, knowing all evidence you may rely on in court is admissible will save you a lot of headaches.
Collect Evidence of Damages
To justify the amount of compensation you are asking for you will have to prove damages. This will include all documentation relating to your injuries and medical bills. Even though these documents are technically yours, it can be a hassle to get a hold of them. For any number of reasons, it can take endless calls to the records department to get your information sent over. And even then the records may be incomplete. Because your doctor likely is not an expert in accident claims, they may not have stated in your records that your injuries were a direct result of the accident. They also may not state that you will suffer temporary or permanent disability from those injuries. Your lawyer will request your doctor’s medical opinion as to the cause and long term effects of your injuries.
Negotiating with Lien Holders
If you received health, worker’s comp, or disability coverage after the accident, that insurer will have a lien on your claim. A lien allows you to receive treatment or services on the promise of repayment after your claim is settled. This means that those companies get paid before you do. Your lawyer can negotiate with these companies to have the lien reduced. This ensures that more of the settlement ends up in your pocket once you have paid your liens. It is possible to do this yourself but a lawyer will be better able to make a case for why they should reduce your lien.
Negotiating Your Settlement
And of course, your lawyer will help negotiate your settlement with the insurance company. Like the lawyers at Olmstead & Olmstead, P.C., an expert car accident lawyer will know how much compensation you are entitled to. They will also know how to present your case to ensure you get every penny owed to you.
Can I Represent Myself?
In small, uncomplicated cases it is possible to represent yourself. Unfortunately, your case may be more complicated than you realize. Without a working knowledge of insurance policy and the claims process you may not receive full compensation. Which means you may end up owing money instead of recovering the cost of your treatment and repairs. Missed deadlines as well as incorrect or missing paperwork can also hurt your claim. Juggling the calls and paperwork involved in your claim is practically a full time job. Hiring an experienced lawyer ensures you can rest easy and focus on your recovery.