Should You Hire a Lawyer for a Car Accident Case That Wasn’t Your Fault?
What factors determine whether or not you need a personal injury attorney
Being involved in a car accident that was totally out of your control is annoying and frustrating at best, and can be life-changing at worst if you or a loved one was severely injured.
Very rarely does being hit by another driver result in no damage. Even “minor” fender benders can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars in damage to your vehicle. If you are injured, medical costs for surgeries, hospital stays, physical therapy, medications, doctor visits, and other injury-related costs can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars (depending on the severity of your case).
Ideally, insurance would cover these costs, but it’s critical to understand that insurance companies (neither yours nor the party at fault’s) are not looking out for your best interest. They may be helpful in certain situations, and they always act like they are your advocate, but in reality they are protecting their financial investment, and they are more interested in their bottom line than with your bank account or health. Sometimes it may be possible to negotiate by yourself, but more often than not, an experienced car accident lawyer will be able to recover more damages than you can on your own.
In order to make sure that you are getting the financial compensation you deserve, it’s important to first distinguish what constitutes “fault” in your state. Some states are “tort states”, meaning that all drivers carry liability insurance and injured parties make claims through the other driver’s insurance. Other states are no-fault states, meaning that drivers carry personal injury protection insurance that applies no matter whose fault the collision was.
Recovering just compensation may be more difficult if you live in a tort state and are trying to go through the other driver’s insurance, because you are not even their client. But regardless of what type of state you live in, the general rule of thumb is that the less damage you have, the more likely the insurance companies will be to pay for repairs/treatments.
If your vehicle just has body damage and you are certain that you only have a couple of bruises, insurance companies will typically pay for the damages without hassle. However, if you have anything more than a minor injury, you should hire an attorney.
What constitutes a serious injury, and why shouldn’t you just do it yourself?
If you need to take time off work to recover, that’s a serious injury. If you require surgery, therapy, prescription medications, follow up doctor visits, or crutches or a boot, that’s a serious injury. If you have to visit a chiropractor for chronic whiplash, that’s a serious injury. If you are hospitalized for any period of time, that’s a serious injury. (Note that some injuries may not present themselves immediately, and you may not realize their extent due to adrenaline so be sure to have a medical examination by a qualified professional to get an accurate assessment of your injuries).
Insurance companies have a financial obligation to their policyholder – not to you. Their policyholder can sue them if they do not attempt to test your case (searching for contradictions in police reports and your medical records in order to give you a lower settlement). They also work for profit, and they make money by settling claims for less than what the claims are actually worth. This means that they will look for any opportunity they can to take advantage of your lack of legal knowledge or confusion following the accident.
Having a lawyer drastically decreases the chances of having an insurance company treat you as less than an equal, attempt to complicate the process, or withhold compensation that you deserve.
Insurance companies know that lawyers understand the requirements of the law when the accident was not your fault. They know what amount you should get based on the facts of your case and your injuries. What’s more, when you are injured in a collision caused by another driver, you need to focus on recovering, and you may be too distracted by your injuries to devote the time and attention it takes to make a claim and settle it correctly. A skilled attorney will do all of the paperwork and communicating for you so you can rest. They will advise you on the best course of action.
Lawyers are only looking out for your best interest because it is also theirs; most lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means the more you recover, the more they recover as a service fee (and it comes out of the settlement – rarely will you pay attorneys anything out of pocket, so there is minimal risk). You can trust them to stand up for you against intimidating insurance companies and work hard to achieve a verdict!
The Florida Law Group specializes in litigating car accident cases. Because Florida is a no-fault state, we know how to navigate the law and the insurance claims process in the case of an accident caused by another driver in order to get you what you need.
We have been nationally recognized for our ability to achieve maximum settlements for our clients. Our law firm is ranked in the top 1% of state firms. When you partner with The Florida Law Group, you become family – we truly care about you and your recovery, and will do everything in our power to win financial compensation.