Expert advice and guidance on car accidents, claims, no fault accident settlements, insurance and hiring a car accident lawyer.
Assigning fault in any car accident can often be a really tricky business. Even if you are convinced you were not at fault, it is quite likely that the other sides insurers / lawyers may wish to put some of the blame on to you directly or indirectly, as a way of minimising their own clients liability.
This is standard practice in many car accident claims, but does not necessarily mean that you need a lawyer. There is a bigger question of when and how you should employ a car accident lawyer, that this question should fit into the context of.
Most car accident lawyers take on cases where they will be able to win significant damages with regard to personal injury claims.
Contingency Fee Arrangements
Many lawyers work on what is known as a contingency fee basis, sometimes called a no win no fee arrangement, where a lawyer does not charge you an upfront fee, but takes their payment directly from any damages awarded to you.
It is worth noting, that even with some contingency fee cases, the client may be required to pay some upfront costs in certain circumstances, such as if the case goes to court. This should be specified and made clear in any contingency fee arrangement.
A car accident lawyer may be able to help other elements of a car insurance claim, but their main focus is going to be pursuing damages for a personal injury settlement. If they do not feel that they have a significantly good case, they are unlikely to take your claim on a contingency fee basis.
This means that they would only take your claim on the basis of a normal fee related payment systems, which changes the ballgame completely.
Fault / No Fault
This then comes back to the question of if you need a lawyer for a car accident that wasn’t your fault, or where you believe you weren’t to blame.
The reality is, that in most car insurance claims the insurance companies will do all they can to minimise costs and settlements, and in some instances this may work to your benefit, and in other instances it may work against you.
The question of whether you need a car accident lawyer or not will to a large extent depend on with you think your insurance company is on your side, or they think they are simply trying to avoid any payment or settlement, and are likely to shaft to in the process.
In any insurance claim for a car accident, where you could potentially be at risk of paying significant liability damages, then it is crucial to know whether or not the insurance company has your back, or whether they are likely to drop you at the first opportunity.
If you do not feel they are on your side, then hiring a car accident lawyer may be your only option. In this case get absolute clarity from the lawyer about their fee structure, and what length of time they anticipate having to spend on the claim.
The obvious problem with this is that it is an open-ended approach, and you may well need at some point to cut losses if their fees exceed what you believe to be the benefit of hiring them.
Car Accident Lawyer Evaluation
Most car accident lawyers will offer an initial evaluation of your claim, either on-line, by phone or in person. This is always well worth taking advantage of, for a number of reasons.
Firstly you can gauge the attitude to you and whether or not they genuinely are interested in taking place, or whether they simply see you as fodder they can use to milk the system and make money out of.
Unfortunately some lawyers are like this, although not the majority, but the ones that are, are worth avoiding.
An evaluation gives you an opportunity to get a lawyer’s take on all aspects of your case. Even if the interest is mainly focused on any personal injury issues, they will also be able to give you some degree of clarity as to the issue of blame and who is at fault.
This may be an invaluable part of the process of deciding whether or not you need to hire a car accident lawyer, and if so on what basis.
The benefits of a good car accident lawyer can be incalculable, not just financially but in terms of helping you to come to terms with all the elements of any auto accident settlement.
Questions to ask a Car Accident Lawyer
Knowing what type of questions to ask a car accident lawyer is really important. You want to know that they have experience of winning cases, and many car accident lawyers put settlements and judgements on their website, normally with dates and amounts won.
This can be a useful guide to their track record, but may also merit further independent investigation.
Many car accident lawyers have reviews on their website, and it is probably safe to assume that these are genuine. Look for reviews especially by other lawyers, as this is normally a fairly good indication of the firm’s capabilities.
Decide on whether you want a local specialist firm, or a major corporate one with local offices. Both will have different approaches in terms of being personal/impersonal, but also benefits in terms of breadth and / or lack of expertise.
It is also worth asking if the car accident lawyers have different types of personal injury claims experience not just related to cars.
Many car accident lawyers also cover different types of accidents such as truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, bad faith insurance, brain and spinal injury claims etc.
The more experience these lawyers have in different areas of personal injury claims the more likely they are to bring the breadth of that experience to bear on your claim.
Whilst his other areas of personal injury claims may not directly bear on yours, the experience the lawyers have will give them a real sense of context, and let them bring an approach that could add significant benefits to your claim.
Main Challenges of Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer
The main challenges relate to cost, whether or not you actually need one, how good they are and how you get out of any agreement with them if you need to.
One of the elements of any contingency fee agreement that you may enter into, is that once started you are unlikely to be able to get out of it before any settlement has agreed, without paying significant compensation to the law firm involved.
Many car accident lawyers take this approach to make sure that the initial work they do in terms of trying to obtain a settlement cannot be undone or simply lost because you decide to walk away from it.
They will tie you into it and make sure that you cannot get out of it until any settlement has been agreed.
Given that most personal injury claims have the potential to go on for a long period of time, often many years, this can sometimes be a significant emotional drain on you as a person, and certainly a factor that should be taken into account.