Do You Need an Attorney for Car Accident Claim?
You have just suffered a motor vehicle accident. You are in pain, confused and have no idea what to do next. Little by little, you become aware of the damage to your car and realize that you need medical attention. This means that you will be burdened with large unexpected expenses. But then, you remember that you are entitled to file an auto accident claim and you will recover most of these expenses. This is true if you hire an experienced auto accident attorney at McDonald Worley Law Firm to help you prepare your claim and negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf.
In this article, we will explain all the pitfalls you may fall into if you decide to pursue your case on your own, without the assistance of an accident lawyer. At the same time, we will explain why you should retain legal representation as soon as possible, before the insurance company’s adjuster contacts you and offers a settlement amount. This amount, in our experience, is nowhere near the fair compensation you deserve for your severe injuries, pain and suffering and property damage.
Common Issues Arising if You Try to Negotiate Compensation on Your Own
Here are just a few of the many problems an accident victim may encounter when trying to negotiate on their own to get financial compensation for personal injury and property damage.
Insurance Companies Want to Reach a Quick Settlement
Right after the crash, when you are still in hospital recovering from your accident injuries, you will be contacted by insurance adjusters representing the fault party. They will offer you a lump sum as settlement for your losses and injuries. At this point, you do not know if this amount is adequate because:
- you are still under medical care and do not know how much your final medical bills will amount to
- you are not fully aware of the extent of your injuries and their future impact on your health
- you have not managed to calculate the lost wages you’ve incurred
- you do not know whether you will be able to resume your work.
Insurance Adjusters Refuse Any Negotiation
In most of the cases, you will be told that you can take or leave the offer the auto insurance company makes. The negligent party’s insurance company will try to convince you that you have no other legal recourse to recover your expenses, and you should be thankful for what they’re offering you. It may not be anywhere close to the fair compensation you deserve, but you are weak, in pain and the experienced adjuster knows how to take advantage of your vulnerable state.
The Fault Driver Denies Liability
Many car accidents in Texas are complicated. It’s not just a case of fender bender, but a crash at a poorly signaled crossroad, in bad weather conditions. In many such situations, the other driver may claim that they are not responsible for the accident, but you or a third party. If the driver denies responsibility, their insurance company will deny your injury claim.
In this case, it falls to you to demonstrate their fault and file a personal injury lawsuit, bringing evidence that shows that the responsible party is more than 51% at fault for the accident. Under the comparative negligence law in Texas, you are eligible to recover your expenses, property damage and other losses if you are less than 50% responsible for the occurrence that caused your personal injuries and damages.
You Are Hit by an Uninsured Driver
According to the Insurance Information Institute, around 8.3% drivers in Texas do not have insurance coverage. That percentage does not appear high, until you become the victim of a car crash caused by an uninsured driver. In this case, if you do not have Uninsured Motorist Coverage (UM) and you try to fight your own legal battle, you have little chances of success.
An experienced car accident attorney can find ways to obtain compensation for your severe injuries and your property damage.
You Give a Statement to the Insurance Adjuster
Any skilled attorneys can tell you that this is the number one biggest mistake accident victims make. They talk to the insurance adjuster right after the accident and they unwittingly make statement such as “I’m quite fine” or “I’m not in a lot of pain”. In many cases, accident injuries will start showing symptoms hours or even days after the crash.
You should not give any kind of statement, because anything you say will be used by the insurance firm to reduce your settlement, claiming that you only suffered minor damage and injuries, which do not justify the amount you’re requesting.
You Do Not Include All the Damages in the Claim
In the state of Texas, you are entitled to three types of damage compensations: economical, non-economical and punitive. Economic damages cover all the expenses and financial losses you incurred as a result of the accident:
- medical expenses
- future medical costs, including for physical therapy, rehabilitation costs, assistive devices and long term nursing care
- lost wages
- out of pocket expenses.
Non-economic damages are special damages, which are more difficult to calculate. It takes a skilled an experienced accident injury attorney to conduct a negotiation process for this kind of damages, which compensate you for:
- pain and suffering
- mental anguish, anxiety and stress
- loss of consortium
- loss of companionship.
Finally, you may receive punitive damages if the at fault party acted with malice, willful intent or gross negligence in causing the accident.
You Do Not Take into Account the Statute of Limitations
In Texas, you have 2 (two) years after a car accident to file a claim or personal injury lawsuit. This period of time is called the statute of limitations and starts running from the date of the accident. If you suffered severe injuries, you may have to spend weeks or months in hospital. This means that time is running out and you may not hold the other driver responsible for your losses once you decide to take legal action against them.
How Injury Law Firms Help You Get a Reasonable Settlement for Your Injuries
An experienced car accident attorney knows how to avoid all the pitfalls listed above, and how to evaluate a personal injury case with accuracy. The main objective in accepting your case is to get the maximum compensation for you through settlement negotiations with the insurance representatives.
In order to do so, the team of lawyers needs to collect evidence, as required by personal injury law. The legal team will perform various tasks, such as:
Creating an Accurate Narrative of the Accident
First of all, your personal injury lawyer needs to understand how the accident happened, in order to hold the responsible driver liable. Any valid claims for a personal injury case must contain the following elements:
- the other party had a duty of care towards the victim
- the accident happened because the responsible party breached their duty of care
- the victim suffered bodily injuries and property damages as a direct result of the accident.
In order to establish all these elements, experienced attorneys will use various pieces of evidence, such as:
- the accident report prepared by the police at the accident scene
- witness statements
- photos, videos, traffic camera footage
- cell phone records, in order to prove distracted driving.
Identifying all the Liable Parties in the Accident
In some cases, the most obvious fault party is not the only one liable for your bodily injuries and vehicle damage. For example, the driver that hit you was traveling for business, a bus driver or an Uber driver. Or the driver lost control of their vehicle and hit you due to a poorly maintained road. In some cases, a third party may be the at-fault person.
Identifying all responsible parties is very important, especially when you were hit by an uninsured or underinsured motorist. This is the only way you may recover a significant part of your damages.
Establishing the Full Extent of Your Accident Settlement
When you prepare a personal injury accident claim, you have to make sure that you include all the damages you are entitled to get compensation for. A reputable car accident attorney will look into your medical records, talk to your doctors in order to determine the full extent of your injuries and evaluate your lost wages. At the same time, the team of attorneys will contact the car repair shop to learn the repair expenses amount.
Each of these elements will be supported by documents which the fault driver responsible for your crash and their insurance company cannot contest. Thus, the demand for compensation will be not just accurate, but also fully backed by supporting evidence which is acceptable even in court.
Trying to Settle the Claim within a Reasonable Time Limit
Some insurance companies count on the fact that accident victims will not realize that their statute of limitation is expiring. Thus, they will attempt to delay the moment of making a settlement as much as possible. Then, they offer a lowball settlement and you have no legal recourse left because the time for filing a personal injury lawsuit has expired.
A dedicated team of attorneys will not let insurance companies get away with this tactic. Unless they accept to pay adequate compensation within a reasonable period of time, the lawyers will state that you are prepared to go to court.
Providing Representation in Accident Lawsuits
When you hire an auto accident attorney, you do not hire just a negotiator, but a real trial lawyer. If negotiations with auto insurance companies fail, the professional car accident attorney will advise you to file a personal injury lawsuit.
The lawyer will use their experience as well as insurance knowledge to prove your case before judge and jury. If necessary, you will be instructed to take an independent medical evaluation, which will confirm your diagnostic and the extent of your injuries. At the same time, the lawyer knows how to conduct examinations that will get the most out of witness memories, so that they can recall the most important facts about the accident.
Representing the Bereaved Family in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
In the worst case scenario, a car accident victim loses their life. In this case, their family has to face the double blow of the loss of a loved one and the financial burden caused by their death. In the state of Texas, parents, children and spouses can file a wrongful death claim against the fault driver and their automobile insurance carrier. A reputable law firm will ensure that the legal process is carried out professionally and with minimum stress for the grieving relatives.
Can You Afford the Attorney Fees?
In many cases, accident victims fail to retain legal counsel because they believe that they don’t afford the fees. In this case, you need to know that most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis. This means that they will get paid after they win your case and you get your fair compensation.
Thus, you have all the reasons to hire an experienced auto accident lawyer:
- no upfront fees
- avoiding legal pitfalls that may void your claim
- getting the financial recovery amount you need after this unpleasant event in your life.
Hire an Auto Accident Injury Law Firm with Decades of Experience!
McDonald Worley Law Firm has a proven record of success in negotiating accident settlements and winning personal injury lawsuits. The driving force behind our firm, McDonald Worley is a licensed attorney with almost 20 years of experience in and out of the court.
Our mission is to get justice served and get your fair compensation for your expenses, pain and suffering. We will always offer you the best legal advice that allows you to make the right decision – to settle or to take your case to court.
We encourage you to contact us as soon as possible for a free initial consultation. As you know, you only have a limited period of time to settle or decide to file a lawsuit. The sooner we can evaluate your case, the sooner you will get your fair claim settlement.
We offer each client the level of attention they deserve, so contact us now by online form or call us for a free case evaluation: 877-721-3423!