Being in a car accident can be a scary and difficult experience. If you’re injured, or need to recover damages you’ve suffered in the accident, the process may be complex and even more daunting. An attorney might be able to help you better navigate the legal challenges ahead of you and help maximize your recovery.
Do I Need a Lawyer for my Car Crash?
Some accident victims decide to brave the legal process on their own, rather than hire an attorney to help with their case. While it’s possible to go into things pro se – meaning, representing yourself in court and in settlement negotiations – hiring a knowledgeable, experienced attorney can make a big difference in a case. Here are some of the reasons you might consider a personal injury attorney:
- An attorney can represent you in settlement negotiations with the other parties and their insurance companies. Settlement negotiations, particularly with insurance companies, can be complex. Inherently, when you are going up against an insurance company, the balance of power tilts in the insurer’s favor—after all, they have experienced attorneys at their disposal to fight your case. By hiring an experienced attorney of your own, you will increase your negotiating power and level the playing field.
- An attorney can apprise you of your rights and options. There are many things to consider before filing a case, such as the proper jurisdiction and venue, the applicable laws and claims involved, and whether alternative dispute resolution methods are available. An experienced personal injury lawyer can explain the process and various options.
- An attorney can help build an effective case based on the facts of your accident and the law involved. Each case is different: the facts around the accident, the witnesses, the injuries, and damages suffered. A knowledgeable attorney can apply personal injury law to the facts of your case to present an effective claim.
- An attorney can serve as your steadfast advocate, keeping your best interests in mind throughout the process.
- An attorney can ensure that the other party — and their insurance company — are following the law and the legal process. It isn’t uncommon for unrepresented parties not to fully understand the ways that the legal process is available to help them. Hiring an attorney helps with making sure the other party and the insurance company are following the rules. An attorney can help keep your case on track, and also make sure that all deadlines are met.
- An attorney can help estimate your damages, both present and future. In some car accident cases, the full extent of injuries and damages isn’t apparent until much later in the process — for example, you may have lasting injuries that won’t allow you to continue in your current job in the future. A seasoned car accident attorney can help appraise the full extent of your injuries and request compensation accordingly.
What is the Process of Hiring an Attorney?
If you decide to hire an attorney, you should carefully research your options first. You will want to make sure the attorney you hire is knowledgeable about personal injury law and has significant experience with car accident cases. You will also want to be sure your attorney is licensed to represent your case in the state in which you plan to file, and that your attorney is in good standing with the state’s bar association.
You will likely have an initial consultation, during which the attorney will go over your potential options. They — or someone working with them — will also ask you questions about your case, going over the facts of the accident carefully. It is important that you assist your attorney as much as possible, by organizing materials and documents that might be helpful for your case; this includes photos of the crash and the scene, insurance documentation, medical documents, and information about witnesses.
To obtain representation, your attorney will likely ask you to sign a contract, often called a retainer agreement. It’s important to understand that signing a retainer agreement does not mean you will necessarily owe a retainer fee; this contract simply sets out the terms of the attorney’s representation in your case. Different attorneys handle fee arrangements in different ways, but it is common in a personal injury case to be represented on a contingency basis. This means the attorney will only collect their contingent fee when you receive a settlement or jury award for damages in your case. As a conscientious client, you will want to be sure you understand the terms of your attorney’s representation, as well as the fees involved.
How Can FVF Help?
Because car accident cases can be complex and difficult to navigate, we recommend that you at least consult with a personal injury lawyer before you decide how to move forward. A knowledgeable and experienced personal injury lawyer can assist with settlement negotiations, building an effective case, and serving as your advocate throughout the process. Our car accident lawyers at FVF are well-versed in personal injury law and can help you understand your rights, options, and likely outcomes in your case. Contact us today to learn more.