Should you Hire a Lawyer to Settle an Accident Claim?

auto accident victims

   In case of severe injuries, experts advise auto accident victims to hire an attorney. (Wikimedia  Commons photo) 

If you’ve been in an auto accident and have suffered considerably physically and mentally and have lost money because of medical bills, time off work and property damage, should you hire a lawyer to handle your accident claim with the insurance company and/or file a lawsuit if necessary?

The answer usually is yes, you should hire Krasney Law, personal attorneys in San Bernardino and Redlands, to get the best possible monetary compensation you can get.

There are three main bases for claims in automobile accidents: personal injury damages, property damage and wrongful death in case a close relative died.

People have many questions about what types of compensation they can get from insurance companies, including for lost wages, medical bills and damage to a vehicle. One of the big questions is who is at fault. The Southern California personal injury attorneys at Krasney Law are experts at getting answers to these questions.
Remember, even your own insurance company will likely try to get away with paying you as little as possible.

Two Contradictory Facts

When deciding whether to settle a case with or without the help of a lawyer, remember two contradictory facts:

1. Your goal is to get as much money as possible to compensate you for losses and suffering.

2. Insurance companies’ goals are to pay you as little as they can so they can realize more profits.

If your case meets one of three criteria, call an attorney before signing the settlement with the automobile insurance company:

• The damages the injured party, or plaintiff, is seeking exceed more than a few thousand dollars. Insurance adjusters probably won’t take a person seeking tens of thousands of dollars seriously unless he has legal representation. The adjuster is unlikely to offer an unrepresented person a fair amount.
• The person bringing the claim seeks future damages. It may require an attorney to write an effective settlement if the injured person is seeking lost future wages or medical bills.
•  There is a question as to whether you were at fault. You may need an attorney to fight for you and present an argument on your behalf if you bear partial blame for the accident.

Three Ways to Collect

In California, which is a fault state, accident victims have three main ways to recover damages: from their own insurance company, from the other party’s insurance company or by bringing a lawsuit.
You can probably handle the settlement on your own if you have been offered the maximum amount from an insurance company. If the other party has, say, a policy that pays a maximum of $50,000 and the Insurance Company has offered $50,000, in all cases you should consult with an attorney regarding the settlement and obtain their advice. In many cases, under the principles of vicarious liability, you may be able to collect from other sources. For example, if the defendant who caused the accident was at work or on company business, you may then have the employer with a deeper pocket.

Contingency Fees

Often accident victims are reluctant to hire a lawyer because of the contingency fees. But “contingent” means the attorney does not collect the fee unless he gets a settlement or goes to trial. At Krasney Law, if there is no recovery, there is no Fee!!

If a defendant has assets beyond his insurance policy, it may be worthwhile hiring an attorney to recover as much as possible. If the defendant owns property and you obtain a Judgment in your favor, you may put a lien on his property, or garnish the defendant’s wages if he has a job or other income. A defendant may even have more resources than his home and job.

Another reason people are reluctant to hire lawyers to settle auto accident cases is if they seem to have minor injuries. But what may seem like a minor injury now may turn into a major medical problem in the future. Also, people who settle on their own often don’t take into account the pain and suffering that a jury would consider if the case went to trial.

It very well may pay to talk to a personal injury attorney at Krasney Law, Inland Empire, because the initial consultation is free. FindLaw.com advises that people thinking of settling should talk to an attorney first.

Serious Injuries

If you suffer serious injuries from a car accident, experts say you should always get the representation of an attorney. Lawyers can get compensation for all that you suffer—some of which you may not even know to ask for. Plus, defendants and insurance companies regard a plaintiff more seriously if he has legal representation.

If you decide to settle without an attorney’s advice and guidance, remember these few tips:

•Decide on an acceptable monetary range for the settlement beforehand but do not tell the insurance adjuster what the amount is. Facts may come to light during the negotiations that may prompt you to accept a settlement toward the minimum end of your range or toward the maximum.

•   Standard practice among adjusters is to make a low-ball offer. Do not automatically accept their first offer. Assess it to see if it’s reasonable.

•   Make the adjuster justify a low offer.

• Emphasize your emotional and physical suffering. If you mailed the adjuster a photo of a severe-looking injury, or if the accident or injuries prevented you from giving full care to a child, mention these facts during negotiations. Also, if you saw, for example, a beer can in the other car, emphasizing that may be a big incentive for an adjuster to want to settle and avoid a trial.

• After you reach a settlement agreement, put it in writing and send it to the adjuster in the mail.

Accident Lawyer, San Bernardino 

The California personal injury attorneys of Krasney Law are experts in the area of automobile accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents and more. Krasney Law can help those who’ve suffered a car accident obtain maximum amounts from insurance companies or defendants, whether by settlement or jury trial. Call us for a free initial consultation today at (909) 360-7200. We collect NO FEES unless there is a RECOVERY or the case goes to trial.

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