The Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT) states that over 3700 people die daily worldwide from car accidents. No one wants to get a phone calls telling them about their loved one in an accident. Personal injury attorneys are dedicated to helping their clients navigate a complicated system. With their guidance, families of victims and persons injured in a crash can get the compensation they should. A car accident lawyer may have all the necessary knowledge to file for claims and handle settlements that a person may not.. When you're dealing with an insurance company, you need all the help you can get. These companies have a reputation for doing all they can to reduce settlements in cases.
If you're considering getting personal injury lawyers for a car accident case, you may wonder if it's worth doing so. Even if you manage to get an attorney with experience, the cost for their consultation might be high. When you're contemplating whether a lawyer's worth it for personal injury lawsuits, you should look at the situation holistically. What is it that you need this lawyer to do in your personal injury claim? How can they help you get the compensation you believe you deserve? Will they help you locate the at-fault driver? In some cases, lawyers might not even be required. Here, we explore how car accident attorneys can help in securing settlements for victims and their families.
Types of Injuries From Car Accidents
The World Health Organization mentions that anywhere between 20 and 50 million people suffer non-fatal, yet severe injuries from car accidents every year. A severe injury may carry its own series of concerns. Even a minor injury could lead to complications if ignored long enough. When someone is injured in a car accident, they may spend days or weeks recovering in a hospital. This time needs to be compensated somehow. Usually, lawyers try to leverage payment for their clients' experience and their losses as part of their settlement. Among the most common types of injuries you'd find in a car accident case are:
Ø Soft-Tissue Injuries: These injuries may span several areas of your body. When your body comes to a sudden stop, your tendons in your neck may become sprained. This type of injury is known as whiplash. It happens because the tendons in your neck become strained through the force of impact on the car.
Ø Scrapes and Cuts: When a car gets in an accident, items not adequately attached to a surface may be thrown across the cabin. When they hit someone, they result in scrapes and cuts that show up on their faces and bodies.
Ø Head Injuries: If you're wearing a seat belt, any head injuries you sustain may be minimal, requiring little treatment. However, if you aren't wearing a seat belt, you may sustain catastrophic injuries to your head and neck from the force of impacting the front of the car.
Ø Chest Injuries: Again, seat belts are crucial in preventing these types of injuries. Without a seat belt, you may sustain significant damage to your chest area. With a seat belt, there's still the risk of broken ribs because of the force of impact.
Ø Arms and Legs: Arms and legs can take severe damage from shattering glass and deforming structures. In some cases, the force of the impact may break your bones. Medical care personnel are trained to deal with these injuries.
These may be either severe injuries or minor injuries. Some of them are termed a catastrophic injury because of the impact it can have on a person's quality of life. Each of them requires significant medical care to return the person to a reasonable enjoyment of life. Physical therapy may also be used to help get an injured person back to full health, but recovery time will vary. In some cases, the person may not recover, making it a permanent injury. Medical records usually encapsulate the severity of damages to injury victims.
The Role of Insurance Companies in Car Accidents
After a car accident, drivers may refer the other party to their insurer. Auto insurance company interactions will differ depending on whether their client is at fault or not. If their client is responsible for the accident, they'll want to minimize the losses they have to cover. Because of this, they might go out of their way to make a major accident look like a fender bender. It's likely that they will even offer a lowball settlement as opposed to a fair settlement. While they may seem to want to find the liable parties, that's not always the case.
The insurance claim process is different to that used for health insurance. Most companies have a series of details they cover before they start pushing for a settlement. Issues like how strong the other party's case is and the severity of the experience factor into this discussion. The type of insurance policy the insurance companies offer to their clients also plays a large part in approaching the settlement.
Liability insurance coverage (also called fault-based coverage) deals with paying off expenses in an accident that you were responsible for. It will cover the bill costs for accident injuries and property damage. However, it won't cover your medical bills. If you're found to be at fault in an accident, the insurance company will compensate for their medical expenses, vehicle repairs, and other expenses. If you reach your insurance policy limit, the company will refuse to cover any more of the injured party's fees. Some states have mandatory car insurance statutes and limitations. This stipulation forces car owners to have insurance as a financial responsibility to others driving on the roads. In states where there is no legal stipulation for car insurance, most owners opt to take insurance anyway since it's the easiest way to deal with a crash.
If you live in a no-fault state, car insurance coverage is structured slightly differently. In these regions, the no-fault clause means that insurance companies are only liable for covering their own clients' expenses. In these states, if your damages meet or surpass a certain threshold, you're allowed to file a direct claim against the other driver. Each no-fault state has different criteria for these threshold values. Insurers have their own idea of what constitutes fair compensation.
Insurance company tactics depend on what they see as getting out of their settlement.
Insurance Adjusters in Car Accidents
Regardless of whether they're in an at-fault state or not, auto insurance companies usually hire adjusters with experience to investigate accidents and determine negligence. This includes both injury claims and property damage claims. As an employee of the insurance companies, the adjuster collects evidence and determines the at-fault party. In many cases, the adjuster would try to prove that their client isn't the negligent party. The chances of a fair settlement tend to be more uncertain if they're involved. They will try to pin the negligence on the driver that is not their client.
Insurance adjusters typically get paid bonuses on how well they protect the company from liability. After the accident, the adjuster will evaluate the claim. They'll interview both drivers, the witnesses to the act, and then collect all the records associated with the motor vehicle accident. These may include medical records, police reports, and any other documents to help them determine liability. Finally, they'll examine the claim and the vehicle to see if the claims have merit.
Time Frame for Filing Car Accident Claims
Filing an accident claim doesn't necessarily have to happen as soon as the accident occurs. Most people head to the hospital first to get themselves checked out and get a clean bill of health before visiting an auto accident attorney. However, depending on the state, you do have a time frame for filing your car accident claim. The amount of time that you're allowed to file for a claim may vary by state from one to ten years. This window of time is known s the statute of limitations. Some insurance policies require you to initiate the claim within twenty-four hours of the accident, but that's a suggestion, not a hard-and-fast rule. If you're involved in such an unpleasant experience, the other parties may initiate a claim on you many months or years after. As long as the statute of limitations hasn't wound up, you'd still be liable for paying for damages.
Long Delays Are Unwise
If you're the person filing the claim (not the at-fault party), getting it filed as soon as possible is in your best interest. The longer you take to file a claim, the less reliable it will seem. Insurance companies are extremely wary of claims filed years after the initial accident. While records won't change, witnesses and medical experts may have a hard time remembering details. Auto insurance claims fall under limitations as well. Claims for bodily injury have a different statute of limitations than those for property damage and expenses. Generally speaking, the time limit on filing gives you plenty of time to file. If you miss the window, however, there's no rolling it back. Accident law firms have a lot of experience in filing these forms.
Client Fees when Dealing with An Attorney
It's clear, at this point, that having an attorney with experience can potentially save money in the claims process, once you receive adequate compensation. If you have to address an insurer, using an attorney carries a lot more weight than simply negotiating with them directly. However, lawyers are only cost-effective if their initial costs are down. A law firm will approach client fees in their own fashion, as no two are exactly the same. Some of the most common types of legal fees that you're likely to encounter are:
Ø Initial Consultation Fee: When you visit injury law firms, they'll charge you a fee for the initial consultation. Some lawyers don't levy this fee, allowing your initial visit to be free. The initial consultation is a chance to pitch the lawyer on your circumstances. Sometimes, the circumstances may determine how you'll pay for the rest of your case, providing they decide to take it.
Ø Retainers: Some lawyers operate on retainer fees. In this arrangement, you'd pay a price that represents a portion of your total cost. The retainer will foot the bill for the legal team as they work. They will then start billing you after the retainer runs out, as the remainder of the amount you owe them. If the case completes without the retainer being exhausted, the lawyer is obligated to return the unused portion to you.
Ø Flat Rate: Most lawyers don't typically use flat-rate billing unless they're hired to perform a specific task. Things like filing company papers or drafting a contract might come with a single-one-time fee attached. Car accident attorneys usually don't leverage flat-rate billing at all.
Ø Hourly Rate: One of the most common billing methods that lawyers use is charging per hour. Larger firms tend to bill hourly rates based on which lawyer is working on your case. If you have n experienced lawyer on the job, you may be required to pay more as a result. These rates don't have a bottom or top limit either. You will usually find payment schedules varying from as little as $50 an hour to over $1000 hourly.
Ø Contingency Fee: Sometimes, experienced attorneys operate on a contingency basis. If the settlement is massive, the lawyer stands to gain much, since contingency fees leverage the settlement. The contingency fee agreement leverages a portion of the settlement as the lawyer's fee. The contingency fee is a valid method of billing used by lawyers working on car accident cases.
Ø Other Expenses: In addition to the legal fees, the client may also be responsible for several other fees. Costs like long-distance calls, payments to expert witnesses, photocopying, filing fees, and many more aren't usually covered under the lawyer's fee structure. Some clients may negotiate to have those fees waived or written off if the lawyer deems them negligible enough.
Each lawyer is different and will approach their car accident case uniquely. Your case may be complicated, meaning that there might be a lot of additional fees involved and require entire teams to work on it. Adequate compensation is usually what lawyers look forward to. Discussing the topic in detail with your car accident lawyer will help determine whether it makes sense to hire them based on the compensation schedule.
Compensation From a Car Accident
Car accidents can fundamentally change how people live and work. From critical injuries such as traumatic brain injuries to broken spines, an accident victim may face significant challenges returning to their regular lives. Medical expenses with, undoubtedly, mount up. Compensation schedules from a car accident usually take these situations into account. Compensation from a car accident may address several types of damages, including:
Ø Property Damage: This might encompass both your property as well as someone else's.
Ø Pain and Suffering: Accidents can sometimes create pain that lasts well into the future. The suffering associated with these problems can be challenging to bear. Compensation settlements usually include pain and suffering payments to deal with this.
Ø Medical Costs: Doctor's bills and charges for health facilities are also considered in many compensation settlements.
Ø Lost Wages: Some accidents render a victim unable to work. In this case, lost wages payments help to iron out financial losses during the time that the person was unable to work.
Ø Loss of Companionship: In some cases, the accident may lead to a change in relationship between individuals and family members.
Ø Future Costs: Future care costs can be considered as the amount that someone needs to live a full life after an accident. This might also encompass costs for one's health insurer as well as medical expenses and physical therapy.
Ø Punitive Damages: Judges may sometimes want to make an example of a driver involved in an accident. In those cases, they may leverage punitive damages against them. These damages may serve to prevent them or anyone else from doing the same thing in the future.
Special damages may also apply to the settlement.
Our Accident Lawyers Worth The Hassle?
Hiring defense attorneys has several benefits, which we explored in this post. Hiring a legal team in this field isn't a necessity. In many parts of the country, you may be able to avoid hiring a lawyer to represent you. If you're dealing with an insurance company, they will have their own lawyers. If that's the case, you'd be starting at a disadvantage without your own legal counsel to represent you. If another driver brings a personal injury claim against you, you'll also need to lawyer up to have a chance of avoiding penalties.
Overall, it's far more helpful to have an accident lawyer at Glenn Law than it is to simply see if you can get by without one. Choosing the right lawyer means looking at their record of success. Their track record will guide you to choosing the best lawyer for the job. The settlement they can get for you is just icing on the cake. Contact your defense attorneys by phone now.