Technically, you can get a settlement for a car accident without a lawyer. In fact the insurance company would prefer that you do! Because without a lawyer, there’s a good chance that your settlement will be far less than what you are lawfully entitled to as an injured plaintiff.
Once you accept an insurance payout, you usually forfeit your right to sue for more money in the future. That means the accident will leave you with lost income, unpaid medical bills, and no legal recourse.
If a car accident injured you or a loved one, contact a personal injury attorney who will properly assess your claim. Your insurance payout should reflect the true impact that your car accident injury has on your life, your health, and your future.
Can I refuse an insurance offer? Doesn’t that mean I won’t get any money at all?
You have the right to refuse an insurance offer, and with the help of an attorney, submit a more appropriate counteroffer. Most initial offers from an insurance company are notoriously low. These offers don’t account for your long-term medical needs or your pain and suffering.
Don’t be caught off guard by how helpful or sympathetic the insurance company appears to be. The insurance companies are not doing you any favors. They know that you are in a vulnerable situation and they use that knowledge to your own detriment.
Remember that insurance companies are for-profit businesses. The insurance company’s primary concern is its bottom line– not your well-being. The chances are that you will receive an offer much less than what you deserve.
If my attorney submits a counteroffer, will I have to go to trial?
Not necessarily. Counteroffers and ongoing negotiations are a standard part of personal injury claims. At the start of a case, it can be difficult to predict if your case will go to trial. This is precisely why it is beneficial to hire a personal injury attorney with a reputation for taking cases to trial.
Don’t be fooled by personal injury lawyers who promise a fast resolution outside of court. These firms are often inexperienced, treat you like “just another lawsuit,” and make a conscious effort to avoid going to court. You need an attorney who will go to trial if that’s what your claim needs.
And know that as the injured party, you have the final say in whether your case goes to court. Your attorney will share their recommendations and personal opinions with you. But you won’t end up in front of a judge or jury unless you decide to go to trial.
Do I still need to hire an attorney if the other driver faces criminal charges?
If you want fair compensation for your accident-related injuries and costs, you will need to file a personal injury lawsuit with the help of a lawyer. Personal injury claims are handled in civil court and are separate from any criminal proceedings that may arise from the accident.
If the other driver is convicted of drunk driving or another charge, they may be required to pay you a punitive fine. A punitive fine is not a substitution for an insurance payout. This amount is often relatively small and is not meant to cover medical bills or pay for your lost income.
You also have the right to pursue a personal injury claim even if there isn’t a criminal case or if authorities drop the charges. The fact that you sustained damages—injuries, bills, and emotional distress—is enough to bring forth a personal injury lawsuit.
How do I choose the right car accident lawyer for my case?
Most personal injury law firms offer a free case evaluation. This meeting is your chance to learn more about the firm and its approach to personal injury cases. Before you hire an attorney, you should ask the following questions:
#1. How much of your practice is devoted to accident and personal injury cases?
Some law firms only take on the occasional personal injury case. You need a firm that exclusively fights for the rights of those who were injured by another party’s negligence.
Accident and injury law firms have the resources and manpower to fight for the best possible outcome for your case. Because these skilled attorneys know how the insurance companies think, they are able to out-maneuver insurance companies to get you the best possible result.
#2. How and when do you charge for your services? Could there be additional costs, like court fees or consultation fees?
Before you hire an attorney, you should understand their expectations and rules for payment. Do they charge by the hour, a flat fee, or a combination of the two? Or, will they receive a percentage of your settlement?
You should also know what you could owe if you lose your case and do not secure a payout. Will you still need to pay for attorney fees? What about costs?
#3. What are some of your case results?
With client confidentiality in mind, an attorney should discuss their past cases. Did they win a settlement? How much?
Ask about their trial results. An accident and injury law firm that never goes to trial may not be the best sign. You want an attorney who is not afraid to go to court if that’s what your case needs.
#4. How can you help me?
Leave your case evaluation with a clear understanding of whether your case has legal merit and what the next steps should be. Can the attorney take on your case now? Or, do they need more information from you or another source?
#5. Other considerations when choosing a personal injury law firm
Do more than a simple internet search or go by which firm has the catchiest radio commercials. Word of mouth from family, friends, and coworkers can be invaluable.
A firm will post its best testimonials on its website. These help, but also look at third-party review sites such as Google reviews.
Lastly, has the firm won any industry awards or garnered local recognition? What is the firm’s reputation?
The Benefits of Hiring a Car Accident Attorney
Perhaps a more accurate question to ask is, “Can I get a fair settlement for a car accident without an attorney?” Keeping in mind very limited exceptions, the answer is “No.” In addition to maximizing your compensation, there are other benefits of hiring a car accident lawyer.
You can focus on your recovery
Your days are already filled with doctor visits and therapy appointments. What time and energy you have left can be devoted to your loved ones, getting better, and if possible, going back to work.
Your attorney will handle the insurance company negotiations. You can always check in if you have any questions.
You’ll have support and guidance
For some people, a car accident lawsuit is their first experience with the legal system or dealing with a lawyer. Personal injury claims can be complex. Your attorney will be there to explain the process and answer your questions.
A personal injury law firm has access to other professional resources
Some car accident claims are fairly straightforward, while others are complex. When needed, attorneys may rely on other professionals to establish facts about your accident and subsequent injuries.
Some lawsuits may benefit from:
- A reconstruction of the accident scene
- Consultation with economic experts to assess any future medical costs and lost income
- Insight from medical experts, especially for catastrophic injuries
An attorney can build a strong case for you.
Car Accident Brain Injury Settlements
A brain injury can be one of the most devastating consequences of a car crash. We now know that even a concussion is more than just a bump on the head.
After a concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI), victims can experience:
- Mood and personality disturbances
- Vision and hearing changes
- Headaches and chronic migraines
- Difficulty with speech
- Cognitive impairments
- Difficulty with executive functions like organization and planning
If you or your loved one sustained a car accident brain injury, you know how these symptoms impact your entire life. A brain injury affects not just the injured person, but their friends and family, too.
No amount of money can undo a brain injury. But adequate financial compensation ensures that you and your family will not have to worry about making ends meet. A settlement also holds the negligent party responsible for the actions.
What is the average car accident injury settlement?
It’s normal to wonder how much you could receive as compensation for your car accident injuries. You may have come across so-called “personal injury calculators” that ask you a few questions and then arrive at a dollar figure. But when it comes to personal injury claims, there is no such thing as “average” amounts or cookie-cutter calculations. Each claim is unique and should be treated as such.
Personal injuries are just that—personal. Two individuals can suffer the same exact injury but those two claims cannot be handled the same exact way. A person’s overall health before the accident and their age will affect their recovery, and even what “recovery” means.
When a personal injury lawyer calculates a settlement amount, they consider:
#1. Your current future and medical bills
If you were injured because of a negligent, distracted, or reckless driver, you shouldn’t have to pay for your medical care.
A settlement should cover all of your medical care for your current and future medical bills:
- An ambulance ride and ER visit
- Out-patient services
- Physical, occupational, and speech therapy
- Prescription medications
- Ambulatory aids: wheelchair, walker, or cane
Personal injury lawyers may work with medical experts to project your accident-related costs well into the future. This is critical for those with severe injuries who may need expensive, life-long care.
#2. Property damage
If your car or truck was damaged in the accident, it should be repaired or replaced. The same goes for other motor vehicles and bicycles.
You should also be reimbursed for any other property you lost in the accident. Some people travel with tools, musical instruments, and other valuables.
#3. Pain and suffering
Your physical pain and emotional distress should be accounted for. A serious injury may leave you bedridden and unable to fully participate in life. You can’t spend time with loved ones, pursue hobbies, play sports, or travel like you used to.
Permanent scars and disfigurement can make it difficult for you to leave your home. Your self-esteem takes a hit. You may have anxiety about going out in public or meeting new people. It is important that your attorney knows all the ways the injury-causing incident has affected your life.
It is not uncommon for car accident victims to experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As a result, you may experience distress when you have to ride in a car, hear sirens, or see a motor vehicle accident on television. PTSD is difficult for both you and your family.
#4. Home or vehicle modifications
If you now require a wheelchair or walker, your home will need modifications. You may need a wheelchair ramp, lower cabinets, and a renovated bathroom
You may also require a new vehicle with a wheelchair ramp or hand controls.
How long does it take to settle a car accident claim?
No one wants to wait for a settlement. Besides financial compensation, a payout can also provide a sense of closure. A car accident injury claim can take anywhere from a few months to a year or more to reach a resolution.
Factors that affect the length of a lawsuit include:
- Whether liability or negligence is clear or debated
- If the crash involved more than two vehicles
- The full extent of severe injuries is not readily apparent
- Injuries are still being assessed
An adequate insurance payout may not be a fast one. Personal injury attorneys are committed to pursuing the best possible outcome for their clients, no matter how long it takes.
Get Legal Help After a Car Accident
The only way to know if you have a legal claim is to speak with an experienced accident and injury law firm. All states have statutes of limitations that limit how long you have to file a car accident lawsuit. Contact an attorney today for your free case evaluation, before the statute of limitations expires and evidence begins to disappear.