After a car accident, you might face an overwhelming number of questions. What's going to happen to your vehicle? Who's responsible for covering your medical bills, and how will you support yourself if your injuries prevent you from working? One question stands above the others: "Do you need a personal injury lawyer?"
The answer to that final question is a resounding yes, not least because it's the most reliable way to gain answers to all the others. Below we explore the complexities that often surround car accident claims and the profound importance of hiring an experienced car accident lawyer to handle your case.
Overview of Your Rights to Compensation After a Car Accident
As the victim of a car accident, you may have the right to receive compensation for your losses. Here's an overview of who may be liable to you and the compensation you could claim.
Parties Who May Owe You Damages
One or several parties could owe you monetary damages for the losses you suffered in a car accident. They could be an individual, a business, a government agency, or any other entity.
- A driver who caused the accident through, for instance, speeding or distracted driving.
- The employer of a driver who caused the accident in a work vehicle.
- An automotive manufacturer if defects in one of the vehicles contributed to causing the crash.
- A government agency or contractor at fault for creating unreasonably dangerous road conditions that played a role in the collision.
These are just a few examples. Every car accident differs, and it frequently takes a close examination of the evidence to identify everyone liable for your losses. The more parties you can identify as at-fault for your car accident, the better your chances of receiving the maximum possible compensation.
Potential Compensation for a Car Accident
You have the legal right to receive compensation for the full range of harm you sustained in a car accident that was someone else's fault.
Every scenario differs, but in a typical case, you can demand payment from at-fault parties and their liability insurance companies for:
- Medical expenses from treating crash-related injuries and health complications, including emergency care, hospitalization, surgeries, rehabilitation, medication, and medical equipment.
- Costs of repairing or replacing your damaged car or other personal property lost in the crash.
- Other out-of-pocket expenses that the accident or your injuries have necessitated, such as the cost of hiring help with daily activities while you heal from your trauma.
- Lost pay and job benefits from missing work while you heal.
- Loss of future earnings and opportunities due to a temporary or permanent accident-related disability.
- Physical pain and discomfort from your injury or medical treatments.
- Emotional anguish and mental health struggles that the trauma of the crash caused.
- Diminished quality of life and loss of independence.
- Difficulties living with scarring, disfigurement, or loss of bodily function.
Sometimes, you may also have the right to claim punitive (or exemplary) damages if the at-fault party engaged in extreme or malicious conduct. These damages punish the at-fault party and deter future misbehavior by others.
The types and amounts of compensation you could claim for your car accident vary based on factors like the severity and impact of your injuries, the strength of the evidence supporting your claim, and the number of liable parties and their ability to pay damages. There's no fixed amount you're guaranteed to receive after a car accident, but it's not uncommon for car accident damage awards and settlements to reach tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more).
Investigating Your Car Accident
A skilled lawyer can investigate the circumstances of your accident to determine how it happened and who owes you monetary damages. The investigation may involve collecting police reports, medical records, and photographs; interviewing witnesses; or even bringing in experts to reconstruct the accident or provide medical opinions. A comprehensive evidence-gathering process aims to identify every party potentially liable to you and begin building a strong case against them.
Evaluating Your Damages
An experienced personal injury lawyer can also evaluate the scope of losses you've suffered. By doing so, the lawyer ensures that any legal action they take on your behalf seeks the maximum compensation possible.
To gain an understanding of the physical, emotional, and financial harm you've sustained, a lawyer may interview you and your loved ones, review medical and financial records, and consult with experts to estimate your future losses and financial needs. The final amount the lawyer determines serves as the goal for the amount of compensation they will strive to achieve for you.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
Insurance plays a pivotal role in compensating most car accident victims. You may carry insurance to pay for some of the losses you've suffered. The at-fault party may carry liability insurance coverage to compensate you for the damage the crash has caused; however, having the right to claim compensation from insurers does not guarantee payment.
Often, insurance companies will try to avoid their obligations or undermine your claim.
A lawyer can take over all dealings with insurance companies as your representative. You can stop worrying about fielding calls from aggressive insurance adjusters who want to interview you and trick you into saying the wrong thing. A lawyer can speak on your behalf to ensure insurance companies treat you fairly and pay the benefits they owe.
Taking Legal Action for Damages
A lawyer can also take the legal steps necessary to demand compensation for your losses. That might include sending informal requests for payment to an at-fault party, submitting claims under your insurance (a first-party claim) or an at-fault party's (a third-party claim), or filing a lawsuit in court seeking monetary damages.
A lawyer can pursue one or several of these avenues on your behalf—it all depends on what strategy stands the best chance of achieving a favorable and efficient outcome for your claim. They can follow the proper procedures and meet any required deadlines (such as a statute of limitations), to ensure that you can take full advantage of your legal rights.
Negotiating and Advising You on Settlements
In tandem with taking legal action on your behalf, a lawyer can also negotiate with insurance companies and at-fault parties to explore the possibility of settling your claims on favorable terms. Most, though not all, car accident claims settle through negotiations. In a typical settlement, the car accident victim (you) receives a cash payment in exchange for agreeing to release at-fault parties and insurance companies from further liability.
A lawyer can only negotiate settlements, however. You, as the car accident victim, get to make the ultimate decision whether to accept or reject a settlement offer. A lawyer can advise you about that decision, drawing on their years of experience to provide insight into how much you should hope to receive and whether a settlement offer is fair.
Taking Your Case to Court
A judge or jury may end up deciding on a car accident claim that does not settle. A lawyer can represent you in court proceedings—including at a courtroom trial where the lawyer presents evidence and legal arguments to convince the court or jurors to award you full and fair compensation. All experienced car accident lawyers prepare every case as if it will end up in court to ensure that no matter which direction your claim takes, you put the best foot forward and have the greatest possible chance of success.
Acting as Your Trusted Advisor
In addition to handling legal actions on your behalf, a lawyer also acts as a trusted advisor and ally for you during this difficult time in your life. They can act as your sounding board in making consequential decisions.
The lawyer can draw on the experiences of their former clients to advise you about how to overcome challenges. Although obtaining compensation for you is a lawyer's primary mission, many car accident victims find their services as a counselor at least as valuable.
Hiring a Lawyer Is Affordable
Hiring a personal injury lawyer to pursue a car accident claim is affordable for anyone, regardless of their financial circumstances. Most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations where you can meet with them and get answers to your questions at no charge. This initial meeting will also help you decide if you feel comfortable partnering with this lawyer on your case.
Personal injury lawyers also work on a contingent fee basis. That means they take a percentage of any compensation they obtain for you—usually in the range of 25 to 40 percent—rather than requiring you to pay them money upfront. You won't owe anything at all if they don't win you compensation.
Many lawyers also cover the administrative costs of a car accident case. For instance, they may pay the expenses of a car accident investigation and medical records acquisition. They'll then deduct those costs from any compensation they recover on your behalf. Again, you pay nothing unless they get you results.
Selecting the Right Car Accident Lawyer for Your Case
Finding the right lawyer to handle your car accident case is an important decision that can affect your future. Here are some tips for choosing the right lawyer to represent you:
Take Your Time
Don't rush into a decision. Take the time to do your research and meet with several lawyers to determine who is the right fit for your case. Remember, you won't have to pay for the free consultation lawyers offer, so take advantage and treat it as a job interview where you can learn about your rights and get a feel for what it would be like to work with them.
Look for Relevant Experience
The car accident lawyer you choose should have plenty of experience handling cases similar to yours. Review their website and, during the free consultation, ask questions about claims like yours that they've handled and their track record of success. Ideally, you want to hire someone who has years under their belt representing clients who've suffered injuries in a crash like yours.
Feel free to ask the lawyer any questions you have. You deserve to have a clear understanding of a lawyer's fees, initial impressions of your case, the proposed strategy of how they might handle it, and their expectations for you as a client. You may also want to ask about how they prefer to communicate with clients to get a feel for whether the attorney-client relationship would be a good fit.
Pay Attention to Personality
Along the same lines, pay attention to the lawyer's personality. You will be working closely with them, so it's important you feel comfortable spending time talking to them and sharing personal details about your health, finances, and other information relevant to your case. Most importantly, the lawyer should inspire your trust and confidence. If they don't, keep looking.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Today
You have potentially valuable legal rights to compensation as the victim of a car accident, but you can't count on the parties who are liable to you to pay what they owe willingly. It will likely take the efforts and persistence of a skilled car accident lawyer to get you the money you need and deserve.
Don't wait to start your legal journey. Contact a reputed personal injury law firm in Las Nevada today for a free consultation.