If you or a loved one has recently sustained injuries and suffered financial losses following a car accident, you may ask yourself, “What does a car accident lawyer do?” A car accident lawyer thoroughly investigates your accident to gather evidence and determine liability, assesses the full extent of your damages, communicates with the at-fault party’s insurer, negotiates a fair settlement, and advocates for you in court if necessary. Statistics show that car accident victim represented by lawyers receive significantly more in damages than those without legal representation. Here’s a more in-depth look at what lawyers do that causes them to make a significant difference in car accident cases.
What Does a Car Accident Lawyer Do?
More than 5 million car accidents occur in the United States every year. The ultimate goal of a car accident lawyer is to help victims and their families recover maximum compensation after an accident. To achieve that, the lawyer will need to do a wide variety of tasks, some of which you might have never imagined. Read on to understand all the work a lawyer does behind the scenes to fight for a car accident victim’s rights and interests.
Investigate the Accident and Obtain the Evidence Necessary to Prove Liability
Building a successful car accident case requires conducting thorough investigations. A car accident attorney investigates the details of your crash to establish how it occurred. The attorney will visit the scene of the accident to analyze it and collect any evidence available, such as traffic camera footage. The attorney will also review police reports of the accident and may speak with the investigating officers and eyewitnesses.
Your attorney will also examine photos of the accident that you or other witnesses might have taken. Car accident attorneys consult with accident reconstruction specialists to recreate the accident scene to prove key elements in cases more conclusively.
Lawyers also access evidence that’s difficult to obtain, such as medical records and data from a vehicle’s Event Data Recorder (EDR). Medical records may take a long time to gather, as healthcare providers may not respond to requests for the records in a timely manner. A car accident lawyer will make multiple medical record requests and keep following up with the providers. Your lawyer can also get a court order to access the other driver’s EDR information.
Depending on your case, your car accident lawyer will know what other type of evidence may be necessary to gather, such as:
- Driver cell phone records
- Dashcam footage
- Post-crash vehicle inspection reports
- Information about defective auto parts and recalls
The information that a car accident lawyer gathers from a thorough investigation reveals the circumstances surrounding your accident, including the cause of the crash and the party or parties that you can hold liable for your injuries and losses. The lawyer will identify all the responsible parties, increasing your potential sources of compensation and maximizing the money you get. A negligent driver, business, municipality, vehicle manufacturer, and manufacturer of a defective car part are some of the parties that could be held responsible for your accident.
One of the most common misconceptions about car accident claims is that you can’t receive compensation if you’re partly to blame for the accident. Illinois is a modified comparative negligence state, so you can still recover compensation if you’re 50% or less at fault for the accident. The damages you collect will be reduced by your percentage of fault. A car accident attorney works to prevent undue blame from being placed on you and minimize your fault percentage so you can get the highest possible financial recovery.
Help With Obtaining Medical Treatment
In their line of work, car accident attorneys get to form professional relationships with different medical professionals. They can help you see the right medical experts to receive specialist treatment, depending on your circumstance.
A car accident attorney can also negotiate your medical liens and other liens to try to reduce the amount of money you owe the lien holders. That increases the net amount of settlement or award you receive.
Assess the Full Extent of the Damages
Calculating the value of a car accident case is challenging. Many people don’t know how to estimate future expenses and losses resulting from their accidents. As a result, they tend to leave them out and focus on the immediate costs. Unsurprisingly, crash victims who file claims on their own usually settle for less than what they would have received with the help of an accident attorney.
Lawyers for a car accident know that crashes affect several aspects of the lives of injured victims, and consequently, victims often continue incurring personal and financial losses long after the accidents. A car accident lawyer will work closely with medical professionals, vocational experts, economic impact analysts, and others to understand the full scope and consequences of your injuries and calculate your economic and non-economic damages more accurately. The lawyer will account for your past, current, and future medical expenses, the impact of your injury on your ability to work, and the accident’s emotional impact.
The lawyer’s thorough assessment and documentation of your losses helps ensure you seek an amount of compensation that adequately covers all the costs associated with the accident, so you won’t be left having to fund some expenses you didn’t consider out of pocket. The compensation amount will also reflect the severity of your personal experience following the accident.
A car accident lawyer helps you receive compensation for all the losses stemming from the accident, which may include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Lost future earning capacity
- Vehicle replacement or repair
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
If you lost a loved one in a car accident, you could receive compensation for funeral and burial expenses.
Handles Communications With the Insurance Companies and Other Parties Involved
The car accident claims process in Illinois usually involves communicating with the at-fault parties, their insurance companies, and their legal representatives. A car accident attorney will handle all communications with the representatives of the liable party’s insurance company.
Reduces Your Stress
Navigating communication with insurance companies can be incredibly difficult, especially when you’re still facing the aftermath of an accident, as it requires dealing with insurance adjusters, telephone calls, statements, and lots of paperwork. Accident attorneys and their staff can take care of the paperwork, file legal documents within the required deadlines, and perform other administrative tasks necessary to maintain good communications with insurance companies.
By handling communication with the relevant parties in your car accident case, your lawyer helps reduce your stress after the accident and allows you to focus on healing physically and emotionally.
Protects You From Insurance Companies
Insurance companies are primarily concerned with their profitability. They aim to collect as much as possible in premiums while paying out as little as possible to resolve claims. When communicating with insurance companies, anything you say or do can be used against you to reduce your compensation.
Insurance adjusters may contact you after the accident to ask about your injuries and medical records and request a recorded or written statement about the crash. Because you don’t deal with insurance companies regularly, your responses could be used to deny or minimize your claim. For example, an insurance company representative could ask a question whose answer could be interpreted as you admitting fault or your injuries being less severe.
A car accident attorney communicates with insurance adjusters and lawyers on your behalf, only telling them what’s necessary for processing your claim. Doing so prevents you from saying or doing things that could jeopardize the outcome of your case.
Negotiates a Fair Settlement
An auto accident lawyer aggressively negotiates a satisfactory settlement for you with insurance companies. The lawyer draws on his or her knowledge, experience, resources, and range of strategies to conduct negotiations and reach the most favorable outcome for you.
The lawyer enters negotiations armed with all the relevant evidence, facts, and arguments to support your claim and counter the insurance company’s arguments. Insurance companies seek to minimize the amount they pay out, so negotiating with the companies for a fair settlement may be a lengthy process.
When it comes to demand letters, which usually start the negotiation process in auto accident claims, the lawyer can use his or her experience to draft a persuasive demand letter that argues why you deserve full financial compensation and increases your chances of securing maximum compensation for your damages. Knowing how much your claim is worth, a car accident lawyer will refuse lowball settlement offers and make counteroffers. The lawyer will use expert testimony to support arguments during negotiations if necessary.
Represent You in Court
Most cases are resolved outside the courtroom. However, an insurance company may fail to negotiate fairly in some situations, making it necessary for you to take your case to trial to recover the full compensation to which you’re entitled.
If your case goes to trial, a car accident lawyer will file a lawsuit on your behalf and ensure you submit all the necessary documents without making errors that could harm your case. A car accident lawyer with courtroom experience will prepare you for participation in the trial, argue persuasively for fair compensation, and know how to challenge the arguments and evidence of the insurer’s lawyers, increasing your chances of receiving full justice and financial recovery.
A car accident lawyer benefits your case in many different ways. When you seek a lawyer’s help after an accident, the lawyer does all the legal heavy lifting to get you the compensation you need to move on with your life with enough financial security. What’s more, these lawyers usually work on a contingency fee basis, so they only get paid if you recover compensation for your injuries and losses.