Do I Need a Car Accident Attorney if I Have a Small Case?
Most people resolve their car accidents without anyone having to plan out their arguments or manage their insurance claim, right? Not quite. Many people turn to skilled car accident attorneys in Houston for resolving these cases for various reasons even if you think you have a small case. These claims don’t always turn into cases, they don’t usually go to court, but most of the time, people simply don’t get the compensation that they need after a crash. Getting a qualified attorney on the cell phone can help you to resolve any questions you might have and give you an advantage if it does go to court. Insurance companies try their hardest to make sure that they don’t have to pay out for damages. The claims you make from accidents are best resolved with an accident lawyer on your side. The record of success for individual complains is sadly, very small.
Sketchy Insurance Companies
Did the person you were in a wreck with, hand you a self-printed “Janet’s Collission” where awful spelling and perforated edges already gave you a bad vibe? Consultations with sketchy agents should be avoided at all costs. Sketchy insurance agencies thrive on policies that essentially don’t cover anything. The driver is frustrated, sure, but you, the victim, is the one left “high and dry.” You’re not even likely to get reimbusement for your physical injury if you have one. There are no rules governing these small, fly-by-night companies. If the other driver’s insurance policy has you feeling a little hesitant, then contact an attorney right away. What you don’t want to occur is to end up with unexpected medical bills or property damage that you can’t cover, and that their policy won’t cover.
What sort of insurance coverage does the other person have?
Businesses selling insurance usually focus on the risks an individual presents. Car insurance deals with how risky their behavior is on the roads. Liability insurance will cover the payout for other people injured in an accident if they were to be found liable. Health insurance may cover the out-of-pocket costs of visiting a medical facility. Rehabilitation costs to get you back on your feet may or may not be covered by your insurance provider. The insurance settlement you negotiate may refund you for some of these costs.
Insurance companies don’t much care about accident victims. In many cases, their aim is to ensure that claims settle out of court and for far less than they’re worth. You’ll be required to fill out a form, then wait for feedback from the company. Most times, that form is all the interaction you’ll have with them until the settlement. Damages for injuries that accident victims should get don’t materialize. Instead, the victim is left paying for their own treatment for injuries instead of the responsible party. Attorneys try to avoid having insurance companies do this to accident victims. A skilled accident lawyer would make sure that all their clients claims are represented and won’t agree to settlements way below value. Defense attorneys will go through every piece of evidence to show their clients are not in the wrong.
When filing your accident claim, it’s important to know which of the parties involved were at fault, and what their insurance situation is like. If their insurance situation is sound, i.e. they are represented by a competent company, the compensation you get from an accident claim will rest on proving the fault. This is the case for every accident case where compensation is involved, not just a minor car accident. An experienced car accident attorney can help you arrange the evidence needed to prove that you’re not the at-fault driver.
Key Points in a Car Accident Case
Any auto accident attorney will tell you that the drivers in an accident are the most important witnesses. Police are likely to contact each driver and take accident reports which they’ll file as evidence. The drivers will need to remember what they were doing when the accident happened. The police will keep the evidence they collect to determine which of the individuals involved was the at-fault driver.
Filing Early is Important
Either of the drivers involved need to file their claims as soon as possible to avoid running afoul of the statute of limitations deadline. This statute is a period of time for individuals to file suit in a case. If you pass these time limits, you won’t be able to file the paperwork. The statute may allow for several months before the window closes. Your legal counsel will check to ensure you haven’t gone past the limit during your initial consultation as part of their provided services. The testimony of both drivers can serve as proof of one or the other doing wrong. The police report can help, and most personal injury attorneys will require you get a copy of the report before filing their claim. Statutes of limitations are there to ensure that those involved can remember the scene of the accident as vividly as possible. The longer the case takes to go to court, the more likely the individuals involved will forget about the scene of the incident.
The Cost of Auto Accidents
if you file an injury claim with an insurance company, an insurance adjuster is likely to be involved to determine the cost of the claim. The value may include the cost of repairs of a vehicle or property. Vehicle damage can be quite expensive. Occasionally you may be able to obtain a settlement in excess of the maximum compensation that the other party’s policy allows, but this may be a long and difficult process.
Just like a property damage claim may also take into account the cost of repairs of the exterior and interior of the building, so too a crash claim covers all angles. Medical costs for injuries may also factor into the hidden cost of accidents. Visiting the scene is crucial to the adjuster knowing how to rate the settlement.
If the case goes to court, you’ll need to pay for expert witnesses for their testimony as well. Rights to compensation legislation is there to ensure that witnesses get paid for the time they take off their jobs for testimony. It counts as fair compensation for the time spent.
Witnesses to the Event Count
The police report is one of the most important documents in typical car accidents, no matter how small. Witnesses that the police interview will have their statements recorded in the police report. Minor crashes may not have many witnesses aside from those present in either vehicle. Yet the testimony of these witnesses may be crucial to the legal team in determining who’s the liable party in these crashes. The police may also engage individuals who are at the scene of the accident to get a better picture of the events surrounding it. Depending on how quickly the police get to the scene, the witnesses present may have already left.
Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit
Filing a car accident lawsuit as plaintiffs may not require injury attorneys to be present through the steps. If the case is a minor one, most law firms won’t even pay attention to it. If you intend to present your complaint against another individual or insurance firm, here’s how you start the process.
Do I Need a Car Accident Attorney if I Have a Small Case? File a Complaint
Plaintiffs in accident lawsuits start by filing a complaint. The complaint may also be known as a petition in certain states, and plaintiffs file this document with the court offices. The complaint typically consists of numbered paragraphs allowing the court to understand that happened. Most law firms have dedicated teams that file complaints on their behalf. Some personal injury attorneys may go through the process of filing the complaint for their clients but with their advice..
Serve the Defendant And Wait for Reply
Once the complaint has been filed, plaintiffs are required to serve the defendant notice. Depending on the jurisdiction, how plaintiffs serve defendants vary. However, once the summons is presented to the defendant, they’re require to deliver an answer to the plaintiffs.
During discovery, the parties exchange information that may be relevant to the case. The facts presented may include police reports, statements from doctors, consultations with experts and other detailed data that may impact settlement of the case. Details of physical injuries, such as soft tissue injuries can impact the final determination for settlement. Doctors may need to present more evidence to back up their decisions regarding accident injuries.
Attorneys may seek out extra information to help prove their case. For example, if the other party has a track record of being an intoxicated driver, it may serve to improve their chances of winning the case. They’re more likely to be the at-fault party under investigation. The accident scene may have clues that could enhance their position that the other party was an intoxicated driver. The intoxicated driver position is one of many that an attorney may lean on to prove their case. Agreements may come from both parties to avoid going to trial. However, you may not get a fair settlement from these agreements.
While most cases don’t get to trial, some do. Witness testimony is given and evidence presented on both sides to help the county judge or jury determine the guilty party and liability. Witness statements may be examines by both parties’ lawyers. Accident injuries and documentation will be crucial to determining the level of physical pain that a victim may have gone through. At the end of the trial, the jury or county judge gives their verdict as well as damages which may include lost wages or other economic and non-economic damages.
Negligence is how the court sometimes determines who was the person in the wrong. In a negligence claim, the law requires a driver to be reasonably careful. If the defendant caused the plaintiff’s injuries, they may be guilty of negligence. If the plaintiff was injured, the court may find negligence played a part in that injury.
The county judgment may also take into account the amount of recovery time the plaintiff had to go through. A few weeks of recovery from severe injuries could impact the individual’s ability to function in society. The terms of judgment may also look at any rights of the plaintiff that were infringed and award them accordingly. If the injured person was unable to generate income or needed public assistance during that time it may factor into the ruling. Pain and suffering for the victim and their families also count towards determination. Punitive damages might be tacked on to the settlement to dissuade anyone from following in the negligent party’s footsteps. In most situations, a minor fender bender won’t get this far, but it’s still important to remember that it is possible.
Level of Comfort in Handling Your Insurance Claim
Do you feel like you can handle your case? If you have a small case without any injuries and minimal property damage, then you probably don’t need an experienced lawyer to hold your hand as you resolve this issue. An experienced accident attorney is there to stand up for victims and their passengers, but if you don’t feel like a victim, then you probably don’t need someone to put their foot down for you. Typically, the families of victims lend them emotional support. You could contact an accident law firm to offer you legal support if necessary.
However, if you don’t have any idea about where to start or how to tell your insurance business that their settlement was too low, then you should seek legal consultation. Hiring experienced counsel doesn’t always mean that they take over your case. You should always be the primary and final decision maker, but having someone who can argue and negotiate for you can be very impactful on the compensation you could eventually receive. Your lawyer may also negotiate contingency fee agreements to their benefit, after hearing about your case. The fees are typically a percentage of your settlement. Keeping in contact with them throughout the process allows you to remain appraised of their efforts.
An automobile crash can be harrowing experiences that can lead to a slew of injuries, some of them severe. The damages awarded to a victim after these accidents are supposed to help them deal with the extent of those injuries. However, there are times when insurers will refuse to honor their obligations. This may even happen when you’re not at fault. Physical therapy costs can become expensive, so settlements are necessary for one’s livelihood.
In these trying times, you should contact personal injury lawyers that can help you resolve the situation. If it goes to trial, a county judge may ask you to get evidence including medical records and police reports to show that you’re not at fault. The county judge can then investigate for themselves which of the parties involved in the incident was at fault. The basis of the decisions made by the judge will allow for the payment of the traffic accident settlement to the plaintiff.
Determination of fault is essential in a personal injury claim since it helps to figure out the value of settlements in a motor vehicle accident. Injuries that may result from auto accidents can have life-changing effects. Even minor fender-benders can have serious health effects if left unchecked. Decisions from personal injury claims help victims recover and deal with these issues through damages awarded.
Financial Questions to Consider
A lot of people involved in accidents start with the message, “ Can I afford an attorney ?” But, the question they should ask is, “Do I have medical bills to pay?” Cutting corners to generate cost savings might be necessary to meet your obligations. When it comes to battling with an insurance company, any insurance company, they only want to look at your car’s property damage. Dents to a fender are surprisingly expensive to bang out. Their idea of auto accidents is that the less they pay, the better it is for their business. If you clearly had significant injuries (for example, to your head), then they’ll likely take that into consideration, but really they’re ready to fight medical claims before a wreck even happens.
If you have medical bills, you may end up thousands of dollars in debt to a hospital over something as common as whiplash or something as serious as a head injury. What’s worse is that your emergency room trip, or urgent care visit alone could run you hundreds only to learn that the only remedy is rest. Insurance claims can help you to meet these obligations through automobile accident settlements. Unfortunately, most insurance companies like to avoid paying the full value of these settlements and prefer to settle out of court.
Attorney fees within the U.S. can also cost a fair amount if you’re not expecting it. Contingency fees may be a common part of your lawyer’s fee structure. You should make sure to ask them if their fees include those.
What To Ask When Speaking with a Houston Injury Lawyer
If you do decide that you need the help of an experienced attorney, then you should go into consultations prepared. Think of a consultation like an interview. The big question you should ask is, do you think I need a lawyer.
If you suspect that your case is too small for an auto accident lawyer, then you may have a hard time getting a message to one that would take your case. Attorneys may realize that your claim doesn’t need anything more than a call to your insurance. many times, they often won’t waste their resources to cover a case that doesn’t actually need legal help.
Other questions that should enter your head include:
- Do you think there will be a problem proving fault?
- What do you think an attorney should prioritize in managing my case?
- How far would you fight for full compensation?
- What percent of damages would you accept as payment?
- Do they require you to come in, or is contact through a mobile phone sufficient?
Although there’s the common belief that insurance companies would rather pay out for minor accidents, that’s often not the case. Instead, they will often cut corners when paying out on these cases in an effort to keep more money in their pocket rather payout. That’s the nature of their business.
Reach Out to Your Houston Car Wreck Attorney
Working with a Houston car wreck attorney isn’t something that anyone wants to do, but the fact is that car accidents happen. Even if you have a small crash, and subsequently a small claim, you could benefit from an attorney. But, before you go hiring a high-powered lawyer to take your case to court, you need a consultation.
Schedule a consultation with an attorney at McDonald Worley , where our team of lawyers can help explain your claim. Not only will you get a realistic understanding of what to expect from your claim, but also, whether you actually need an attorney or not.