WHAT HAPPENS IF I’M IN AN ACCIDENT?
Auto accident claims are one of the leading sources of personal injury cases in the United States legal system.
Roughly half of all car accidents result in claims and a considerable number of those become lawsuits.
With over 300 million cars on the road and six million accidents a year, auto accident claims tallied up to 3.3 million last year.
The vast majority of injuries in automobile collisions are head and neck injuries, and they’re as expensive (or more) as the vehicular damage claims. While more than 85% of all car accident injuries are conducive to therapy and treatment, they still alter the victims’ lives considerably.
In any accident with even minor injuries, medical professionals should be consulted (on scene if at all possible).
The main legal principle governing fault in car accidents is negligence. The majority of car accident cases are ruled against the negligent driver.
Negligence works on the presumption that all motor vehicle operators are taking due caution while driving and have awareness of laws needed for public safety. If not, the driver is said to be negligent.
That being said, some auto accident claims are ruled to be joint fault accidents, and even the not-at-fault driver can be held liable for anything said or done after the accident has occurred.
If you’re involved in a car accident, remember the following:
1) Only give general information – your driver’s license information, your insurance agent contact, and anything required by a law enforcement or medical professional to ensure that the situation is safe.
2) Do not confront the other party of the accident in an emotional or hostile fashion. Even if you aren’t at fault, you can still prejudice any auto accident claim by your actions AFTER the accident.
To prove fault in an auto accident claim, the plaintiff has to show that their damages were the result of the other driver’s negligence. This can make auto injury claims tricky in cases where an accident is ruled to have multiple causative factors.
A good predictor of negligent driving is prior driving history – drivers who have records of moving violations, running traffic lights, and failing to signal have a lot of prejudicial weight against them.
Drivers under the influence of alcohol or other drugs that can impair awareness, reaction time, or judgment are usually found to be at fault in a car accident lawsuit.
A very small number of auto accident claims are ruled to be a structural fault in the road, automobile, or manufacturer. These types of car accidents often result in claims against government entities or motor vehicle manufacturers, aftermarket converters or repair facilities.
The accident has happened and now you need to start thinking about your personal injury auto accident settlement.
You know who’s at fault– maybe it’s one person, several people or a company.
You’ve got medical bills to pay and lost wages to make up.
You might even want compensation for a lot of undue pain and suffering. Because of all this, you want to get the biggest insurance settlement possible. This is money that you need and deserve.
Still, no matter how obvious things may be to you, the insurance company isn’t going to just give their money away. They’ll do everything they can to show that their client wasn’t the only one liable, or that your damages weren’t as severe as you say. You get hurt, you ask for some money, you get your money. It would be nice if accident settlements were this easy. Unfortunately there’s often more to the process.
Arriving at a fair personal injury settlement agreement with the insurance adjuster can be complicated, stressful and drawn out.
But sometimes negligence cases are simple and straightforward. Many people handle their accident settlements successfully without hiring a lawyer.
Here are two reasons why you would choose to represent yourself:
1) It simply might not be financially worth it to hire a lawyer. The percentage your lawyer will take from the final settlement may leave you with less than if you did it yourself.
(Example: You handle the case yourself and get a $5,000 settlement offer, but decide it isn’t enough and hire a lawyer who gets you a $6,500 offer. Is this better? Not if your lawyer takes the standard 33 1/3% fee, leaving you with $4,350 – not to mention his costs, which are taken off the top.)
2) Many personal injury cases are straightforward. If the defendant is clearly at fault and your damages are detailed accurately and do not really involve a pain and suffering component, you shouldn’t have a problem getting a fair settlement offer. You can always elect to hire a lawyer at any time (before you sign the release of course).
Your personal injury compensation, even when factoring in things like pain and suffering settlements and punitive damages, is usually directly related to your past, present and future medical bills.
How much do YOU deserve?
Calculating the total amount of your damages is never easy. It often requires putting a price on things that don’t carry a monetary value.
Even then, your math won’t likely match up with the insurance company’s math. Your job is to get paid as much as you can, and theirs is to pay as little as they can.
Still, you need to find a dollar value for your personal injury compensation claim and an attorney with know-how to boost that number. If you’ve been injured in a serious accident you definitely want to find attorney services to help you get a fair personal injury settlement.
Where do you start looking? What should you expect? What questions do you ask?
If you’ve been seriously injured, you need to find a personal injury lawyer and get on it quickly. Searching for and hiring a good lawyer might take some time, so the sooner you start the better.
This does not mean you should sign the contract right away. But you should begin meeting with lawyers in the first week or two after your injury. You could have a loved one start looking if you’re not physically capable.
A good personal injury lawyer brings a lot to the table: knowledge of the legal game, experience negotiating, etc. But they will also take a substantial amount of any settlement awarded to you – usually somewhere around 33 1/3% more if your case must be litigated.
You should know it’s not absolutely necessary to find attorney services. It really depends on your case. If you just want to file a claim and your case is relatively straight forward, then you might be able to “go it alone.” This approach could save you a significant amount of money. Read through this website to get an in-depth idea of what’s involved.
But if you’re like most people you’re not even considering the prospect of handling your own case. So naturally you’re going to want to find attorney to handle your injury case.
Knowing what to do in an accident is important.
How can Liberty & Associates help you?
A good accident attorney brings with him a multitude of skills and a depth of knowledge. We have dealt with thousands of personal injury cases and therefore “we know the drill.”
We have experience in gathering evidence and negotiating with insurance companies. We know how the legal game is played and will advise you on how much your injuries are worth. This knowledge is critical to negotiating insurance settlements effectively.
In addition to experience, we will do all the legwork involved in gathering evidence for your case (obtaining medical records, doctor’s notes and narratives, police reports, etc.).
You’ll have to sign releases to allow us to obtain this kind of information, but that should be the extent of your involvement in gathering evidence.
We will also negotiate with the insurance company. This can be tricky and the importance of negotiation skills can’t be underestimated. We have decades of experience negotiating.
What to expect from Liberty & Associates…
The first thing you should expect is to wait a long time before receiving your personal injury settlement. If you simply file a claim and settle with the insurance company (out of court) it could take a few months to a year, maybe more.
If it goes to trial you’re probably looking at 1-3 years. Don’t get upset with your us if your case is moving slow. They all move slow.
Also, don’t expect us to call you everyday to update you on your case. If attorneys called all their clients everyday they wouldn’t get any work done. You should have an open line of communication and be able to call us for an update whenever you feel like it, but don’t expect us to call you if there is nothing to update you on.
Liberty & Associates has successfully prosecuted wrongful death, serious automobile, motorcycle, slip & fall, premises, fire and products liability accidents. Our clients have received multimillion dollar verdicts in legal, medical and professional malpractice cases
Liberty & Associates has prevailed against the State of California, Counties of Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Diego and San Francisco, Cities of Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Acadia, Monrovia, San Diego and San Francisco, and defendants insured by Mercury, Farmers, State Farm, Liberty Mutual, Safeco, Titan, Nationwide, Allstate, Esurance, 21st Century, Automobile Club, California State Automobile Association, Progressive, Infinity, Access General and Mid-Century Insurance Companies.
Liberty & Associates has prosecuted cases in more than thirty counties in California, in Nevada, Arizona, New York, Florida, Texas, Oregon and in the Federal Courts.
Every member of the Firm takes their duties very seriously and always goes far above and beyond what is required or expected of a law firm, and always exceed all clients’ expectations with regard to what is required so that each client knows that we always maintain the highest level of ethics and honesty with its clients, and will always fight vigorously for its clients throughout the entire legal process and even beyond. We understand that each person’s legal issues are very serious and often painful and devastating. We will fight aggressively, fearlessly, and work endlessly to obtain the best results possible.
If you have any questions or are in need of talented, aggressive and experienced attorneys that you can trust, please feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.