You might feel overwhelmed after suffering a personal injury in an accident. The consequences can affect you financially, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
The short answer is that it depends. If your case doesn’t involve losses (especially economic losses) or you did not, in fact, sustain an injury, you might not need to hire an attorney. But in almost every other instance, it is likely in your best interest.
The rest of this article will provide insight into when you need a personal injury lawyer after an accident.
A Personal Injury Attorney Can Negotiate With the Insurance Company on Your Behalf
In almost every personal injury case, an insurance company will be involved in one form or another. Sometimes, you’ll need to file a claim with your insurer; in other situations, you’ll file one against the at-fault party’s insurance company. Since California is an at-fault car insurance state, you can generally pursue compensation from the other driver after a crash.
Ultimately, insurance companies are for-profit businesses. The adjusters they employ are incentivized to minimize the claims they review for liability. This is true regardless of whether it is your or the responsible party’s insurer you are dealing with. When you speak with them, they may use various tactics to reduce or escape financial responsibility for your losses.
If your claim is substantial, you’ll most likely benefit from hiring a personal injury lawyer in this context. An experienced attorney in this field of law will help you level the playing field with the other side. Personal injury lawyers are trained negotiators familiar with insurance companies’ operations. In short, an attorney won’t let the insurance company take advantage of your interests.
A Personal Injury Lawyer Will Protect You If You Are Being Blamed for Your Injuries
In many personal injury cases, multiple parties caused the accident – even if one party is more responsible than another. Comparative fault is how this issue is sorted out such that each party is held accountable for their actions.
States differ in how they deal with this issue, though there are a few broad categories of handling comparative fault that most fall under. California, for instance, works under a “pure comparative negligence” standard.
Under the pure comparative negligence standard, each party is assigned a percentage of fault. Your recoverable damages may be adjusted based on your percentage of the blame. For example, if you are assigned 20% of the blame, your financial compensation may be reduced by 20%.
Other states are not so favorable to accident victims. Nevada, for instance, adheres to a “modified comparative negligence” standard with a 51% bar to recovery. The way it works is similar to California’s system, except that if you are assigned 51% or more of the blame, you cannot recover compensation at all. This standard applies in almost every personal injury context, such as after a car accident or a motorcycle accident.
The at-fault party will likely try to accuse you of causing the accident, as that can allow them to reduce their liability for your injuries. However, hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer means you can effectively respond to these allegations.
You Will Have Time to Focus on Your Rest and Recovery After Your Accident
Hiring a personal injury lawyer might be necessary if you’ve suffered serious injuries from your accident. The personal injury claims process can be lengthy, and sometimes taking a case to court is required in order to realize its full value.
It’s unadvised to do this alone, especially if you’re still working on caring for your health and well-being. If you hire a personal injury lawyer, you’ll be able to focus on your rest and recovery. In the meantime, your attorney can take care of every aspect of your claim from start to finish. That includes tasks such as:
- Collecting evidence on your behalf
- Investigating your accident to evaluate your damages and identify the at-fault party or parties
- Handling all of the communications, paperwork, and negotiations
- Filing a lawsuit before the deadline if necessary
A lawyer can also advise you on your legal rights and options as your case develops, ensuring your best interests are protected at all times.
A Personal Injury Law Firm Can Give You Access to Resources and Experts
In personal injury law, the injured victim has the burden of proof to support their contentions “by a preponderance of the evidence.” This is easier to satisfy than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard found in criminal cases. Nonetheless, you must submit enough evidence to show your positions are more likely true than otherwise.
It can sometimes require expert assistance to properly establish a claim. Two examples of these experts are accident reconstructionists and forensic economists. This assistance might also come in the form of an expert witness, should your case reach trial. A personal injury lawyer can hire experts to strengthen your claim when needed.
Experts also could come into play in terms of evaluating your damages. You generally only have one chance at receiving compensation, and hiring an attorney means you’ll make the most of that opportunity. You’ll be able to demand an amount that accurately reflects your losses, both backward and forward-looking.
Set Up a Free Consultation With a Personal Injury Lawyer
In most cases, hiring a personal injury lawyer means you’ll set yourself up for a favorable outcome for your claim. That means obtaining the compensation that makes you whole again as best as possible.
Most personal injury attorneys offer a free consultation, so you can receive legal advice and learn about their services. And since most lawyers in this field work for a contingency fee, you’ll only pay them attorney’s fees if they secure compensation for you.
The contingency fee system also means the lawyer won’t be able to take on your case unless it makes sense for them. For that reason, it is at least worth your time to set up a meeting and find out whether a lawyer could benefit you in virtually every circumstance.