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How Do I Settle a Car Accident Claim Without a Lawyer?

by John Gomez | Last Updated: January 11, 2022

To Settle A Car Accident Claim Without A Lawyer

If you want to settle a car accident case successfully without a lawyer, do not continue down that path. The odds are against you from the beginning. Defense lawyers and the insurance industry are far too powerful to take on without an experienced and qualified car accident attorney.

The party at fault for your accident does not want to pay you what you deserve. Contacting a car accident lawyer is the only realistic way to make certain you do not get taken advantage of, and that you secure the financial compensation the law entitles you to receive.

Do you really need a lawyer if you are the victim of a car accident?

Yes, you do.

The truth is, trying to handle your car accident case on your own is a terrible idea. It rarely has any benefit, and it comes with a mountain of risk and a high probability that you will lose out on much-needed financial compensation.

Some may argue that an attorney can only help with certain car accident cases. But if you are a victim of any car accident due to another person’s negligence, chances are you need an attorney to recover the compensation that you deserve under the law.

Car Accident Injury Cases

If you suffered injuries in a crash, you probably have a lot riding on the successful outcome of your car accident claim. You need to pay medical bills, replace the income you lost while you were out of work, and obtain compensation for the inconvenience and difficulty you face because of the physical and emotional harm you suffered.

You may also have future needs because of your injuries that you aren’t even currently aware of, but which stand the chance of swamping you in expenses and debt down the line.

In other words, you cannot afford to take unnecessary risks with your claim. By hiring an attorney, you get a professional with a wealth of experience evaluating damages, identifying the parties who should pay them, and holding those parties and their insurance carriers accountable for maximum compensation. In particular, lawyers know how to calculate and prove your future financial needs so that you do not get left without the resources to pay for care and treatment.

Non-Injury Car Accident Cases

People may tell you that you don’t need an attorney for a car accident case in which you did not suffer injuries. Don’t believe them. In fact, having an attorney on your side will almost always help you in a non-injury car accident case.

For one thing, you should not be too confident that you didn’t suffer injuries in your car accident. Many car accident victims like you think they escaped a crash without harm, only to discover hidden injuries in the days and weeks that follow that cause them severe pain and discomfort.

Never take chances with your health. Seek medical attention immediately after getting into a car accident, no matter how sure you are that you didn’t suffer injuries. If the doctor finds harm that you weren’t aware of, you will need a lawyer to help you recover maximum compensation.

In-car accident cases where a victim like you truly does not suffer any injuries, you will likely still need an attorney to obtain the full value of damages to your vehicle and other property. For example, auto insurance companies are notorious for playing games with how they value your car after an accident, or whether they declare it a total loss, to pay you the least amount possible. Hiring a lawyer protects you from these sorts of tricks and tactics, which can easily cost you tens of thousands of dollars.

How can a lawyer make a difference in your car accident case?

One of the biggest and most immediate benefits of hiring a lawyer for your car accident case is that it relieves you of the burden of dealing with defense lawyers and insurance companies. A car accident attorney essentially takes over all aspects of your case.

All communications with insurance companies about your accident, injuries, and damages flow through your lawyer. You get a skilled professional on your side watching out for your interests, and the peace of mind of knowing the legal and financial aspects of your situation are well in hand. That frees you to focus your attention on healing from your injuries and getting back to living your life.

But that’s not all. Car accident lawyers perform a wide array of legal services for their clients, all aimed at getting their clients the most money possible to pay for their care, expenses, and inconvenience.

Every car accident case differs, but car accident lawyers routinely:

  • Investigate the facts and circumstances of an accident, collecting potentially valuable evidence to help prove your claim for damages;
  • Identify the party or parties who have a legal liability to you for the damages you suffered in the accident;
  • Calculate the full amount of your damages, which includes not just your current expenses and needs, but also future costs associated with your accident and injuries;
  • Negotiate a potential settlement with the at-fault partys’ defense lawyers and insurance providers;
  • Advise you about whether to accept or reject settlement offers the at-fault party makes;
  • Go to court to prove your case to a judge and jury if necessary to get you the maximum compensation available; and
  • Collect money owed to you through a settlement, judgment, or jury award.

In short, a car accident attorney puts years of training and experience to work for you to get you paid for your injuries and losses. Car accident victims virtually always achieve better outcomes and higher settlements when a lawyer represents them than when they try to handle their cases on their own.

Do at-fault parties, defense lawyers, and insurance companies want you to get a lawyer?

Absolutely not. At-fault parties and their representatives know that they have the upper hand in dealing directly with car accident victims. Insurance adjusters and defense attorneys may try to seem friendly and helpful, but only because they want to convince you to take the minimum payment possible. They will look for any reason to reduce or deny your claim and may try to trick you into saying something that harms your legal and financial rights.

In fact, in the hours and days after an accident, you may get messages and calls from the at-fault party’s insurance company representatives offering to resolve your claim quickly. They may ask you to answer questions, make a statement, or agree to a recorded conversation. Do not agree to these requests. They are designed to get you to say something they can use against you, such as an admission that you bore some of the blame for the accident, or that your injuries aren’t as bad as you think.

If you have a car accident attorney represent you in your case, insurance adjusters and defense lawyers will not be able to get away with these tactics. Your attorney will speak on your behalf, prepare you, and stay by your side if you need to make a formal statement. With an attorney in your corner, you will know what legal rights you have and what damages you have the right to demand from the at-fault party. All of these directly contribute to higher settlements and trial awards.

What is it like to go through a car accident case without an attorney?

It’s virtually guaranteed to be unpleasant, confusing, stressful, costly, and unsuccessful.

As we’ve described, you will have to contend with sometimes-aggressive efforts by insurance companies and defense lawyers to get you to settle your claim for less than you deserve, or to make statements that harm your rights. You won’t have access to the same type of information about case values and future costs that they have, and they will take advantage of your ignorance.

In addition, it’s just a fact that no one will take you or your claim seriously if you do not have a lawyer representing you. They will see you as an easy target and will give your claim less respect and attention than if a lawyer presented it on your behalf.

In the end, if you end up with any money at all, it’s sure to be far less than the amount a lawyer could have secured for you.

Damages an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Can Secure For You

Hiring an attorney does not guarantee that you will get financial compensation, but it does maximize your chances of a favorable outcome.

How much can you get in damages to pay for your injuries and losses? It’s hard to say without knowing the details of your car accident, your injuries, and the party (or parties) who may have liability to you.

But in general, a skilled car accident injury attorney can frequently secure compensation for you that includes:

  • Medical expenses and costs for treatment and care currently; and for future expenses, if you suffer permanent disabilities or chronic conditions from your injuries
  • Lost wages due to your missed work hours and future loss of income because of your inability to work long-term or any loss of function that prevents you from fulfilling your work responsibilities
  • Pain and suffering from the accident, your injuries, and your healing process, which can include emotional and psychological struggles due to the trauma of the accident and afterward, and your overall loss of quality of life.
  • Property damage for repair or replacement of your vehicle or any other personal property damaged as part of the accident.
  • Other expenses you would not have had if the accident hadn’t happened.

Sometimes, a lawyer can also secure a payment of exemplary damages, which courts may award when the at-fault party’s actions reflected “oppression, fraud, or malice” (in other words, they were intentional or extremely reckless).

In cases where a car accident victim dies from accident-related injuries, surviving family members can often secure financial compensation for their loss through a wrongful death lawsuit.

How can a statute of limitations affect your car accident case?

Settling a car accident case takes time and effort. Insurance companies and defense lawyers know this, and they try to use it to their advantage. If you try to represent yourself, they may even try to drag the process out for long enough that the statute of limitations for your claim expires. If you do not take legal action before the expiration of that date, you will likely lose your right to compensation altogether.

The statute of limitations for car accident claims varies state-to-state. In California, for example, it’s usually two years. But state laws setting deadlines on car accident cases also frequently contain exceptions, conditions, and special requirements that can shrink your window of opportunity. You may need to take legal action in a matter of months, for example, if the car accident that injured you involved a vehicle owned by a city or state agency.

Don’t Risk Your Future. Hire a Car Accident Lawyer.

The time after getting into a car accident can feel confusing and stressful. There is no need to add to your already heavy burden by taking on the responsibility of securing financial compensation to pay for your current expenses and future needs.

Car accident lawyers spend their careers fighting with insurance companies and defense lawyers on behalf of crash victims like you. They know how to navigate the complications and roadblocks that arise in car accident cases to get their clients the maximum compensation possible.

Do not put your future at legal and financial risk after you suffer injuries and losses in a car accident. Instead, contact an experienced car accident lawyer immediately for a free consultation to learn about your rights and options.

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