Individuals who have been involved in a car accident where they were injured or experienced property damage due to someone else’s negligence may wonder if they need legal assistance. They may feel they can deal with insurers to settle their own claims. While every case is different, there are many ways accident victims can benefit from the experience and knowledge of a lawyer who has a history of bringing clients’ cases to a successful result.
Victims of car accidents caused by another’s negligence may receive compensation for damages such as medical costs, loss of income, pain and suffering, and other related expenses. Unfortunately, people often take a lower settlement amount than they deserve because they lack legal representation.
Insurers for negligent drivers who cause collisions are not interested in offering victims the full amount of compensation that their claims justify. However, if highly qualified, experienced attorneys represent the victims, the car insurance company must reckon with professionals who are not afraid to take the cases through the entire court process.
Communication With the Negligent Driver’s Insurer
Having an attorney means the injury victim can allow this legal representative to handle all communication with the negligent party’s insurance adjuster and any other representative. Because the insurance adjuster is responsible for settlement offers, it pays for the attorney to be an excellent communicator and have practical business relationship skills.
Obtaining Liability Evidence
A necessary ability for a personal injury lawyer is to obtain the needed evidence for proving the negligent driver’s or entity’s liability in causing the accident. While the victim may have pictures taken at the accident scene, the attorney will likely go to the location and do further examination and calculation.
Additionally, the car accident lawyer will obtain accident reports and speak with police officers, investigators, and witnesses. Highly skilled attorneys will cover all bases when gathering evidence to prove liability.
Obtaining Evidence of Damages
When a car accident victim has suffered severe injuries due to an auto collision, the right lawyer will acquire all pertinent documentation to prove the claim. This is not an easy task in many cases. While medical records and bills technically belong to the affected individual, it is not always a priority for healthcare providers to search for and readily provide such documentation. Larger hospitals may have specific required procedural protocols in place for responding to requests for medical records. If these procedures are not followed to the letter in a request, there may be no response whatsoever from the medical provider.
In some instances, records sent from a medical center may not contain complete information. Many paralegals and legal secretaries have had to deal with this problem by repeatedly requesting correct records and following up with endless phone calls to the medical provider’s office.
Lastly, it is not uncommon for specific terminology to be missing from a physician’s notes. For the successful prosecution of a personal injury case, wording that refers to causation, prognosis, and disability must be included. Through the medical evidence provided, a car accident attorney must prove:
- The exact injury, physical limitations, or disability
- That its cause is the defendant’s negligence
Physicians frequently fail to mention in medical records the causation and the extent of a disability or injury. When this occurs, the victim’s attorney usually writes to the physician asking for a letter. In this requested letter, the doctor should verbalize the opinion that the car accident caused the injury and that the victim will be disabled for a specific length of time.
Lien Holder Negotiations
If a car accident victim got any benefits from a health, workers’ compensation, or disability insurer, this insurer would place a lien on the legal claim. In essence, this means that lien holders will receive payment from a court judgment or settlement before the plaintiff does.
One benefit of having a qualified car accident attorney is how a lawyer can get a lienholder to reduce the lien amount. This is critically important for a plaintiff because each dollar that the lien holder wipes off the debt goes straight into the victim’s pocket.
The negligent party’s insurer will be focused on keeping the company’s money where it is. As a means to protect profit margin, the insurer’s first settlement offer is likely to be minimal and only a fraction of the car accident claim’s real worth. Some plaintiffs are willing to grasp at straws and accept such a minuscule amount, thereby signing away any right to seek further damages.
One should never agree to a settlement offer without first allowing an attorney to review it. Experienced car accident lawyers know the laws that pertain to such claims and are skilled at negotiating with the insurer to get the best possible settlement amount for their clients.
Should a Victim Handle a Car Accident Claim?
In a very small case with minimal damage and minimal injury, some people choose to gather their own evidence and documentation. If they feel comfortable attempting to negotiate a settlement, it may work out okay for them. By doing so, they ultimately save one-third of their proceeds by not having to pay an attorney’s contingency fee.
The glaring question, however, is this: what constitutes a small case? At what point is a case large enough to require the expertise of a skilled lawyer? Some estimations specify that a claim with medical bills that are over $3,000, or where the victim missed more than one week of work, should be handled by a highly qualified, experienced accident attorney.
Contact The Eichholz Law Firm
If you were injured in a car accident that was not your fault, contact our legal team to learn about filing a car insurance claim and how we can help.