Most people don’t respond to an accident by immediately hiring a lawyer and filing a lawsuit. Instead, they take a “wait and see” approach, looking for a reason to hire a lawyer to help them with their insurance claims or lawsuits.
Almost all injury lawyers offer a free consultation, meaning you lose nothing by speaking to a lawyer immediately after your accident. Even if you don’t plan to hire a lawyer until later in the process, this is a great opportunity to learn about your rights and obligations. And you might find out that you’ll benefit from having a lawyer on your side early on.
The Role of the Injury Lawyer
After you get injured, you’ll gather information about the at-fault party and their insurers. You can easily accomplish this task after a car accident because drivers must exchange information at the accident scene. You might have more difficulty collecting information following other incidents, like slip and fall accidents.
Thus, the first step most injury lawyers will take will be to investigate who was involved and whether they have any insurance policies that might cover your injuries.
Most injury cases begin with an insurance claim, which includes a detailed description of what happened, along with supporting documents like medical records, doctor bills, wage records, and police accident reports. Such documents will help you prove liability and damages.
The insurance company will assign a claims adjuster to your case. They’ll investigate your claim to determine whether the insurer is legally obligated to pay it.
If the adjuster accepts the claim, you’ll receive a settlement offer. This initial offer will likely be significantly less than the value of your case, which means you’ll need to negotiate for a better offer.
If the adjuster denies the claim, you can respond in an effort to change their mind. You’ll need to present evidence and legal arguments to overcome the denial.
When you hit a roadblock with the adjuster, you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. The insurer will join the case to defend its policyholder.
Most cases settle before going to trial. However, if your case reaches a jury, you’ll need to present your evidence to persuade them to award damages to you.
Reasons To Hire a Vista Personal Injury Lawyer
In many situations, the best time to hire a lawyer is at the beginning of the case.
A lawyer can educate you about your case and its value. They can also explain your legal rights and evaluate your likelihood of success. This information will help you decide how to handle your case. But many accident victims start their claims without the assistance of a lawyer.
Circumstances where you should consider hiring a lawyer include:
The Other Party Has No Insurance
If the other party has no insurance, your options are limited. In most cases, no insurance means you must file a lawsuit to pursue compensation. And to file a lawsuit, you’ll generally need a lawyer.
Unfortunately, this situation happens more often than you might expect. According to an insurance industry study, California has the tenth-highest rate of uninsured motorists — over 16% of motorists in the state don’t have auto insurance.
Similarly, your injuries might not fall under the at-fault party’s policies. For example, California doesn’t require boat owners to buy boating liability insurance, and liability insurance for homeowners and renters will often cover dog bites but not assault.
Your Claim Gets Denied
When an insurance company denies your claim, it must explain its reasons for doing so. Insurers know that non-lawyers will often give up after a claim denial, so they’ll often use confusing technical or legal jargon to muddy the waters and make it seem like your claim has ended.
Some grounds for denial include:
- The policyholder didn’t cause your accident
- The policyholder’s actions weren’t negligent
- Your injuries weren’t caused by the accident
- The treatment you received for your injuries was unnecessary or unreasonably expensive
A lawyer can review the claim denial and determine your best option for responding to it. Sometimes, you can overcome a denial by simply sending additional documentation. In other cases, you may need a lawyer to present legal arguments to counter the adjuster’s position.
The Other Party Blames You for the Accident
Whether you share any blame for your injuries will help determine how much compensation you can receive.
Under California’s comparative negligence law, you can only get compensation from parties who caused your injuries. More importantly, if you share the blame for your accident, you might lose a portion of the damages you can recover.
For example, if you bear 35% of the blame for your accident, you can only get 65% of the resulting damages.
Under these circumstances, you may need a lawyer to help you lower your share of the blame. That way, you can maximize your compensation while minimizing your liability to the other party.
The Adjuster Refuses To Negotiate
You’ll almost always need to negotiate with the claims adjuster to receive a fair settlement. Insurers know you’re desperate for injury compensation to pay your medical bills and living expenses. As a result, they’ll almost always start with a lowball offer, hoping that you’ll take anything just to end the case.
Lawyers learn negotiating skills in law school, and an experienced injury lawyer will have negotiated hundreds or even thousands of personal injury settlements. A lawyer’s skill and experience can often get you a better offer than you could secure on your own.
Hiring a Qualified Vista Personal Injury Lawyer for Your Case
If you decide to hire a lawyer, you should make it a point to schedule some free consultations. During these meetings, you can interview lawyers to choose the best one for your case.
An accident claim can involve many issues ranging from liability to damages. Contact Petrov Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation to discuss your accident and find out how an experienced Vista personal injury attorney can help with your claim at (619) 344-0360.