After getting hurt in a car accident caused by a negligent driver or another party, you may have legal claims for compensation for expenses or losses you incur. However, many car accident victims face hurdles when pursuing financial recovery from liable parties and insurers. The complexities of car accident claims drive many injury victims to seek legal representation from car accident lawyers. But what exactly does a car accident lawyer do for you after a crash?
Your car accident lawyer will be your advisor and advocate as you navigate the insurance claims or civil litigation process. An attorney can investigate the accident to secure evidence for your legal claims, identify responsible parties and options for compensation, prepare you for the claims process, and fight for your financial recovery at the negotiating table or in court.
A car accident lawyer will take the burdens and stress of dealing with insurers, defense lawyers, and medical bill collectors off your shoulders so you can focus on recovering from your injuries.
What Does a Lawyer Do During Your Car Accident Claim?
Hiring a lawyer means having an experienced legal advocate who can take care of the details of pursuing your legal claims while you focus on your medical recovery. Some of the essential tasks that lawyers perform in car accident cases include:
Investigate the Accident
Successfully recovering compensation after a car accident requires proving the other driver was at fault for the crash. Your car accident lawyer will thoroughly investigate the accident to recover evidence demonstrating how the at-fault driver caused the crash. Car accident lawyers know what information they need to recover to win their client’s case.
Your lawyer can help you secure evidence such as:
- Police accident reports
- Accident scene photos and videos, including images of vehicle damage, skid marks, and traffic controls at the location of the crash
- Eyewitness statements
- Vehicle computer data logs
- Surveillance/traffic camera footage
- Dashcam footage
- Driver cell phone records
- Alcohol/drug screen results
- Car maintenance records
- Post-crash vehicle inspections
Work With Experts
In many car accident claims, lawyers may hire experts to review the evidence and provide opinion reports and testimony to support your case.
Experts frequently hired for car accident cases include:
- Accident reconstruction experts. Review evidence from the crash to draft a narrative report or create a visual reconstruction to explain what happened in the accident and identify who caused the crash.
- Engineering experts. Inspect vehicles after the accident for signs of mechanical failure caused by inadequate maintenance or defects.
- Medical experts. Explain how the accident caused your injuries and discuss your prognosis, including what future treatment or care you will need and whether you may suffer permanent physical impairments.
- Vocational experts. Discuss how your injuries or disabilities will adversely affect your ability to work or perform daily tasks.
- Financial experts. Calculate future expenses or losses from your injuries, including lost earning capacity or long-term medical or personal care costs.
Document Your Injuries and Losses
Your lawyer can gather and organize the documentation to support your car accident claim. Essential documents in a car accident case may include police accident records, medical records from your treatment, pay stubs/income statements, and bills/invoices/receipts of expenses.
Identify Liable Parties and Options for Compensation
Your car accident lawyer will review the evidence and work with experts to determine who you can hold liable for the crash and your injuries.
Your lawyer can also help you evaluate your legal options for getting money, such as:
- Filing claims with your insurance
- Filing claims against the at-fault driver’s or other liable parties’ insurance
- Suing the driver or other responsible parties
Identifying your legal options will allow your lawyer to craft an effective strategy for your case.
Explain Your Legal Options and the Claims Process
Your attorney can also sit down with you to discuss your legal options in your case and answer your questions. A car accident lawyer can prepare you for each stage of the claims process and advise you about how to move forward in your case.
Your attorney’s advice can inform and empower you to make the best decisions for your interests at each step of the case.
Knowing what to expect in pursuing a car accident claim can also reduce some of the anxiety and stress you may experience while waiting for compensation for your injuries and losses.
Draft and File Claims and Demand Letters
After assembling a persuasive legal argument, your car accident lawyer will begin drafting and filing insurance claims or demand letters to pursue compensation from the insurance company or at-fault parties. A demand letter serves as a formal claim for compensation. The letter will lay out the evidence supporting your claim for the other driver’s or party’s liability, document your injuries and losses, and request a sum of money as compensation.
Sending demand letters or filing insurance claims usually starts the settlement negotiations process since insurers or at-fault parties rarely agree upfront to pay the compensation demanded in an insurance claim or demand letter.
Handle Communications With Other Parties
You may deal with multiple parties after suffering injuries in a car accident, including insurance adjusters, defense lawyers, or medical bill collectors. Having a car accident lawyer means you can direct people who contact you about the accident or expenses/debts you incurred from the accident to speak to your attorney.
If your lawyer can handle communications with other parties, you can focus on treating your injuries and returning to regular life after the car crash. Your lawyer can also relieve the stress of fighting with insurance adjusters or dealing with debt collectors trying to recover money for your medical bills.
Negotiate a Settlement
An experienced car accident lawyer can aggressively negotiate for you to secure a settlement of your insurance or legal claims. Your lawyer will persuasively argue with insurance adjusters or defense lawyers to demonstrate the strength of your legal case and push the insurer or liable parties to settle.
Your attorney can also advise you when pursuing alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation or arbitration will give you the best chance of securing fair compensation for your injuries. Hiring a seasoned advocate can help you recover the financial resources you need as efficiently as possible following a car accident.
File a Lawsuit and Pursue Litigation
Your lawyer can pursue litigation if the at-fault driver or insurance company refuses to agree to a reasonable settlement of your car accident claim. Litigation involves complex court rules and procedures. Your lawyer will help you navigate these rules and ensure the proper and timely filing of your car accident lawsuit. A car accident attorney can also handle your litigation, including filing or responding to motions or managing discovery requests.
Your car accident lawyer will prepare persuasive arguments and present your case to a jury or judge at trial. If you receive an adverse verdict, your attorney could file an appeal to challenge errors that occurred during the trial court proceedings.
How To Find a Car Accident Lawyer
After a car accident, you may get overwhelmed trying to choose a car accident lawyer from multiple attorneys and law firms in your area. Selecting the right car accident lawyer begins with gathering referrals to several attorneys, then meeting with those lawyers and getting to know them before deciding which lawyer or firm to hire.
Where Can You Get Referrals to Attorneys?
Car accident victims can collect referrals to car accident lawyers from several sources:
- Acquaintances. You can ask family members, friends, neighbors, and co-workers who have had car accident claims for referrals to the attorneys they hired for their cases. Your acquaintances can provide a detailed account of working with the prospective attorney. You may also feel comfortable hiring a lawyer recommended by someone who knows you well.
- Your past or current lawyers. If you have hired lawyers for other legal matters, such as a business or family law case, you can get referrals to car accident attorneys your previous lawyer knows and respects. Having a stamp of approval from a fellow attorney you have worked with before can help you decide whether to hire that car accident lawyer.
- Bar association and online directories. If you cannot obtain personal referrals, you might search state and local bar association or online directories of local attorneys who handle car accident or injury cases.
- Internet searches. Finally, you can search the internet for “[name of your town or county] car accident lawyer” to find lawyers and law firms in your area. You can also contact the lawyers through their websites to schedule initial consultations.
You should collect referrals to several car accident lawyers. Meeting with multiple attorneys will allow you to compare working styles and fee arrangements to find the car accident lawyer who is a good fit for you.
Take Advantage of Initial Consultations
Car accident lawyers usually offer free initial consultations to prospective clients, with no obligation for the client to hire the lawyer at the end of the meeting. Free case reviews will allow you to speak to multiple attorneys to find the ideal lawyer for your case.
At an initial consultation, the car accident lawyer can learn about your claim to determine if you have a viable legal claim and if the lawyer can help you. The meeting also allows you to ask questions of the car accident lawyer to help you decide if you should hire them.
Topics you should cover with a car accident lawyer during the initial consultation include:
- How long have you practiced law?
- How long have you handled car accident/personal injury cases?
- What percentage of your cases involve car accident claims?
- How often do you recover compensation in car accident claims?
- How often do you take car accident cases to trial? How often do you win?
- Will you or another attorney at the firm handle my claim? Will you refer my case to another law firm?
- How often will you update me on my case?
- Can I contact you directly?
- How quickly do you respond to phone calls, text messages, or emails?
- Do you expect me to do any work for the case, such as obtaining police accident reports or medical records?
- How do your fees work?
- What do you think of my chances of recovering compensation?
How Much Do Car Accident Lawyers Cost?
Most car accident lawyers represent injured victims on a contingency fee basis. With a contingency fee arrangement, an accident victim pays nothing upfront to hire a lawyer or law firm for their case. Instead, the car accident lawyer only gets paid if they recover compensation for their client in a settlement or trial verdict.
In contingency fee agreements, the lawyer receives a percentage of the total compensation they secure for the client. The lawyer’s fee percentage may increase as the case hits certain milestones, such as filing a lawsuit or going to trial.
Car accident lawyers also frequently cover case expenses like court filing fees, expert witness fees, or processing fees to obtain accident or medical records. Some fee agreements allow the lawyer or law firm to receive a reimbursement for those costs from the compensation secured in the case.
Contingency fees allow car accident victims to get the legal representation they need to pursue claims without the financial burden of paying hourly fees to a lawyer. These fee arrangements also place the economic risk of pursuing litigation on the lawyer or law firm rather than on a car accident victim already facing medical bills and lost income.
A Car Accident Lawyer Can Make the Claim Process Much Smoother and Reduce Your Anxiety and Stress
Recovering from a car accident can cause you to worry about your financial security and future. You can pursue compensation from the driver or other party at fault for the crash. However, insurance companies may minimize or deny the financial resources you need.
A personal injury lawyer can relieve you of the stress of the claims process by explaining your legal options, investigating the accident, building a persuasive compensation claim, and advocating at the negotiating table or in court to secure the financial recovery you deserve.