If you’ve been in a crash, you’re probably asking yourself, Should I get an attorney for a car accident?
When deciding whether to hire a lawyer for your car accident, there are a few factors to keep in mind. Depending on the situation, hiring legal representation may not be necessary.
However, there are times when retaining a car accident attorney maybe your best option. Here are some important questions you should consider after being involved in a car accident.
Did You Suffer Any Injuries?
First and foremost, it’s best to determine the severity of your damages. If you didn’t suffer any injuries, contacting an attorney may not be needed. For cases involving only vehicle damage, the value of the claim usually isn’t enough to justify paying legal fees.
However, if you have serious injuries that require surgery, time off work, or extensive rehabilitation, you should think about hiring a personal injury lawyer. This includes:
- Bone fractures,
- Internal bleeding,
- Organ damage,
- Burn injuries,
- Traumatic brain injuries,
- Spinal cord injuries, and
These injuries often worsen over time, leading to lifelong problems with medical expenses or reduced earning capacity. For this reason, it’s important to have experienced legal representation for your accident claim if you have extensive injuries.
Was Another Driver Responsible for Your Injuries?
Another thing to consider when deciding to hire a lawyer is whether the other driver caused the accident. In California, there are four things you must show to prove liability:
- Duty of care: The driver, by getting behind the wheel, had a responsibility to follow the rules of the road to keep everyone else safe.
- Breach of duty: While operating their vehicle, the driver breached their duty by doing something that a reasonable person wouldn’t do in the same situation.
- Causation: The actions of the other driver directly caused your accident.
- Damages: You have physical, emotional, and financial damages as a result of the other driver’s negligence.
Proving the liability of another driver may be difficult to do on your own.
Is the Insurance Company Claiming You Were at Fault?
California follows the pure comparative negligence doctrine. This means that an injured person may recover damages even if they are 99% at fault for their injuries. However, the court typically reduces the amount of your award based on your percentage of liability.
For example, if you sue the other driver for $100,000 in damages but were 60% at fault for your injuries, the court would reduce your potential award to $40,000.
If the insurance company tries to deny your claim or reduce its value by putting the blame on you, it may be wise to talk to a lawyer about your options. A lawyer can help you challenge the insurance company’s claim that you were at fault and help you maximize your compensation.
Can You Collect the Evidence Necessary to Prove Your Claim?
Gathering evidence is one of the most laborious, time-consuming aspects of a car accident claim. Evidence is not only needed to prove the negligence of the other driver but also to show the extent of your damages. There are several forms of evidence you need when making a claim, including but not limited to:
- Medical records of your injury and treatment,
- Police reports detailing the scene of the accident,
- Witness statements from anyone who saw the accident,
- Quotes for vehicle and other property repairs,
- Photographs of the scene of the crash,
- First-hand accounts of your recovery process, and
- CCTV footage of the accident if available.
This is a lot of information to gather on your own, especially if you sustained a serious injury. A personal injury attorney can help you collect this evidence and, if needed, hire expert witnesses, such as accident reconstruction experts or doctors.
Are You Willing to Pay Contingency Fees If You Win?
Most car accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means that if you hire an attorney, you don’t have to pay for them out of pocket. Instead, the attorney gets paid a portion of your settlement or judgment if you win your case.
However, if you don’t win your case, you owe your attorney nothing. Their payment depends on the success of your case.
During your consultation, your attorney will give you detailed information about their contingency fee structure. In most cases, the attorney asks for a percentage of the settlement or judgment ranging from 30-45%. Generally, the more work the case takes, the higher the percentage.
For example, your attorney may only ask for 33% of the settlement if you are able to settle your claim. In contrast, if your attorney has to file a lawsuit and go to trial, they may ask for 40% or more of the final judgment.
In most cases, the additional compensation you can recover with the help of an attorney will make up for the cost of hiring one. But when speaking with an attorney, don’t be afraid to ask about their contingency fee structure, potential legal expenses, or the value of your claim.
They should be able to provide you with a realistic assessment of your situation and all the possible outcomes of your case.
Should I Get an Attorney for a Car Accident Before or After Filing an Insurance Claim?
If possible, try to hire a personal injury attorney before you speak with the insurance company. When you submit your claim, the insurance company will do everything in its power to reduce or deny compensation. Even offering a simple recorded statement may be detrimental to your case.
An experienced lawyer knows the tricks that insurance companies use to take down a legitimate claim and can communicate with them on your behalf.
Injured in an Accident? Call Our Los Angeles Attorneys Today
If you’ve been injured in a car accident due to the negligence of another driver, it’s essential that you hire an experienced personal injury lawyer. At Saeedian Law Group, our attorneys help manage every aspect of your claim. Whether you need help gathering evidence, calculating your damages, or dealing with the insurance company, we are here for you.
To schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys, give us a call at 310-288-3000 or contact us online. We serve clients throughout the state of California from our offices in Beverly Hills, San Diego, Riverside, Newport Beach, Rancho Cucamonga, and Los Angeles.