Sometimes after a car accident, everything goes as planned when you file a claim with your insurance company. But other times, it may be more complicated to recover compensation for your injuries and damages. If you need to file a personal injury lawsuit, you will need an expert car accident lawyer to help you with your case.
Reasons to Seek Legal Representation
There are several common reasons why people may seek auto accident attorneys after car accidents. For example, if your own insurance company is rejecting your personal injury claim, a lawyer can give you much-needed representation so you can receive a fair settlement. Other reasons to seek legal help include:
You Have Serious Injuries and Damages
If you have severe injuries or major damages after an accident, you will likely need to hire a car accident lawyer so you can seek compensation for all of your damages. Car accident injuries can be very serious and expensive to treat, such as a severely broken bone that has to be set with surgery. Likewise, vehicle damage after an accident can be more expensive than the settlement offer you receive.
You Have Long-Term Injuries
Some car accident victims sustain long-term injuries after an auto accident. Serious injuries that can be long-term include traumatic brain injury, loss of limb, paralysis, and more. Many people will also suffer from complex injuries that prevent them from working in the future or that will require ongoing medical treatments, such as physical therapy and additional surgery.
You Can’t Pay for Your Medical Bills
If you can’t pay for your medical expenses because the out-of-pocket costs are too high, filing a personal injury lawsuit can help you pay for your bills. Even minor injuries can incur high treatment bills for people who don’t have adequate health insurance coverage.
You Need Help Negotiating With the Insurance Company
After an accident, you may be dealing with more than one insurance company. In personal injury cases, it’s not uncommon for the other driver’s insurance company to contact you about the accident. If you are also having trouble receiving compensation from your own insurance policy, then you will need a lawyer to help you negotiate for your insurance settlement.
What Should You Say When You Talk To the Insurance Company?
Whether you are speaking with your insurance company or you are speaking with the other driver’s insurance provider, there are certain things you should not say to an insurance adjuster. Although your insurance company should be on your side, many companies try to deny your claim by blaming you for the accident or suggesting that your injuries were sustained in some other way.
When you speak to an insurance adjuster, you should stick to the facts and avoid apologizing. And if you feel like the insurance company is trying to trap you, you should ask your car accident attorney to speak with the company on your behalf.
You Need to Negotiate a Higher Settlement
Sometimes, an insurance company will offer you a lowball settlement that does not cover the full extent of your injuries and damages. If the settlement offer for your insurance claim is too low, you may be stuck paying for medical treatments and vehicle repair out-of-pocket. Negotiating for a higher settlement after a car accident claim can help you with your physical and financial recovery.
Your Claim Is Going to Court
If your car accident claim is going to court because you were unable to negotiate a fair settlement outside of court, you will need to have a car accident lawyer by your side. A car accident claim may escalate to court if the injury claim is contested because the other driver has triggered the comparative negligence doctrine. When you have to settle your accident claim in court, you will need to prove your case with evidence.
What Kind of Evidence Will Car Accident Lawyers Collect?
Collecting evidence is crucial to winning your car accident lawsuit. Gathering evidence for your case can prove how the accident occurred, which driver is more responsible for causing the accident, and more. To gather evidence, your personal injury lawyer will collect independent medical evaluations, witness and expert testimony, and photographs or videos of the accident scene.
Your Car Accident Involved Multiple Parties
Sometimes, car accidents involve multiple drivers. When car accident cases involve multiple drivers, your law firm will have to prove the degree of negligence for other involved parties so you can recover more compensation for your damages. Suing multiple parties for your damages can ensure you will be able to make a full financial recovery after an accident.
Do You Need a Car Accident Lawyer If the Other Driver Says You Are the Negligent Party?
If the other driver insists that you are at-fault for the accident, you will need to work with a lawyer to fight this accusation. Because of comparative negligence, the percentage of liability you have for the accident is directly related to the compensation you can recover from the settlement. Your car accident lawyer will need to provide evidence that you were significantly less responsible than the other driver or drivers involved in the accident so you can receive adequate compensation for your injuries and damages.
What Actions Can Determine Negligence In a Car Accident Case?
To prove the other driver’s negligence, your car accident lawyer will need to find evidence to satisfy each element of negligence. These elements include establishing that the other driver owed a duty to drive safely, that the other driver breached this duty, that this breach of duty caused your injury, and that you have suffered damages such as lost wages, hospital bills, property damage, and more.
There are a few definitive ways to prove negligence in a car crash. A police report may suggest the other driver was guilty of distracted driving, reckless driving, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, all of which tend to weigh more heavily when determining accident liability.
What Damages Can You Claim After a Car Accident?
Aside from compensation for physical injuries and property damage, you can also file a lawsuit to recover compensation for other damages. In Missouri, it’s common for car accident victims to sue the negligent driver for non-economic damages like pain and suffering, which can account for physical pain, emotional distress, and reduced quality of life after an accident.
How Can You Find an Expert Attorney?
You must hire an expert lawyer to help with your case. By attending a free consultation, you can have your case evaluated by an attorney to assess how viable your case is – and you can also take the opportunity to assess your potential lawyer in return.
In general, to find an expert lawyer, you will need to search for legal firms that specialize in personal injury claims. It’s best to find attorneys who have experience in the specific car accident you were involved in, such as a bus accident, motorcycle accident, or truck accident. You should also check on the lawyer’s reputation, how long the lawyer has been practicing this type of law, and how successful the lawyer has been with similar cases in the past.
Can Your Lawyer Estimate Your Settlement Offer?
In general, a car accident attorney will not be able to estimate your settlement. Even during your initial consultation, while your lawyer is studying the details of your accident, it can be hard to predict how settlement negotiations will go. Fortunately, when you work with an experienced lawyer, you can be more confident that your attorney can use the details of your accident to secure fair compensation.
Are There Any Caps On Compensation in Missouri?
Under Missouri law, the damages you can recover after an accident are not capped. If your car accident did not involve any injuries, you may be able to recover $3,000 to $15,000 in damages. Accident victims who were injured in a car accident can recover damages between $15,000 and $1 million – or sometimes more, particularly when non-economic damages like pain and suffering are added to your settlement.
How Can You Pay for a Personal Injury Lawyer?
To pay for a personal injury attorney, you can usually make payment arrangements such as a contingency fee payment. A contingency fee arrangement allows you to pay for your lawyer after you have received your settlement. This method of paying for legal services can be an excellent option if you have a complex personal injury lawsuit or you are unable to pay for your lawyer out-of-pocket.
You can discuss your payment arrangement during your free consultation. Your attorney will tell you about the legal fees associated with your case, which can include billable hours and filing fees if your case has to go to court.
What Should You Do After a Car Accident?
After a car accident, there are several things you will need to do other than contact a car accident attorney and certain things you should not do. When you are speaking with the other driver, avoid assigning blame for the accident since many people are overly emotional after a crash. Other things you should do after an accident include:
Contact the Police
In Missouri, you are legally obligated to contact the police after a car accident, regardless of how severe the car crash is. This is an essential step since contacting the police will generate a police report that contains details about the car accident, including evidence that the other driver may be at fault for the crash. The police will also talk to witnesses and can gather preliminary evidence that you can use when you are filing an insurance claim or a lawsuit later on.
Exchange Contact Information
One of the most important things you can do is exchange information and driver’s license numbers with the other parties involved in the accident, as this will ensure you will be able to reach the other driver and work with the other driver’s insurance company.
Seek Medical Attention
After speaking with the police, you should seek medical attention. Even if you don’t think you are injured severely, you must go to the ER or let EMTs evaluate you immediately after the auto accident. This is important because some people do not notice injuries due to shock and also because you will need this initial medical evaluation to prove that you were injured because of the car accident.
Move the Vehicle
If possible, it’s also a good idea to move your vehicle out of the flow of traffic. For minor car accidents, such as a fender bender, moving vehicles to the shoulder of the road to make room for traffic is common courtesy. However, before you move your vehicle, make sure to take plenty of pictures of the scene of the accident so you have evidence to use later on. You should also not move your vehicle if you are too injured to move or if it is unsafe to move your car.
File an Insurance Claim
Finally, you should contact your insurance company as soon as possible after the accident to start your claims process. Contacting your insurance provider sooner rather than later is a good idea because you may need help paying for initial medical bills, lost wages, and vehicle repairs. There may also be consequences for not contacting your insurance company after an accident that may make an insurance adjuster more likely to deny your claim.
After an accident, you may need a lawyer to help you fight for the fair compensation you deserve for your injuries and damages. Whether you need more money or the other party is accusing you of negligent driving, it’s in your best interest to hire legal representation for your legal action as soon as possible. If you believe you need the help of a car accident lawyer to seek compensation for your damages after an accident, contact Holman Schiavone, LLC at 816-399-5149 for a free consultation.