Car accidents happen daily, and more than 30,000 are injured in those crashes yearly. A considerable number of those injured in these accidents will sustain long-term injuries that will affect the rest of their lives. Others will incur short-term injuries that require significant medical attention and may also miss time from work.
If you’ve been involved in an auto wreck, you might want to settle soon to focus on other important things, like recovery. But like many people, you might wonder whether you should negotiate a settlement alone or bring in a car accident attorney to help with the process. The decision to hire a lawyer or negotiate yourself depends on a range of factors, including:
- The severity of your injuries
- The extent of property damage
- How much insurance coverage is available
- Whether the other driver was at fault
The severity and extent of your injuries
This is perhaps the most vital aspect to consider when deciding whether or not to hire a lawyer. If you have sustained serious injuries requiring long-term treatment, you will almost certainly need legal representation to get the compensation you deserve. Such injuries might translate to expensive medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering – that the insurer will try to lowball you on.
On the other hand, if you have only sustained minor injuries that have already been treated and are not expected to cause long-term problems, you might be able to negotiate a settlement on your own. But unless you are certain that your injuries are minor, it is always best to consult with a lawyer.
If the other driver was at fault, you might be able to negotiate a settlement on your own. But if there is any chance that the other driver was not fully at fault, or if liability is disputed, you will definitely need legal representation. Expect more of a fight if it’s unclear who caused the accident. The defense may argue that you were partially at fault, which could reduce the amount of compensation you are entitled to. In some cases, they may even argue that you were fully at fault, which could mean that you get nothing. An experienced car accident lawyer will know how to deal with such. They will help investigate the accident and build a strong case that shows the other driver was at fault.
The extent of property damage
If your car was totaled or sustained significant damage, you would want to ensure you are compensated for that. An experienced lawyer can help you determine the true value of your property damage and negotiate with the insurance company to get you a fair settlement.
How much insurance coverage is available
The available coverage is also an important factor to consider. If the other driver was at fault and did not have enough insurance to cover your damages, then you might have to look into your own insurance policy to see if you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. If you have this coverage, a lawyer can help you file a claim and get the compensation you deserve.
Estimating your damages
Once you have thought about all of the above factors, you will need to estimate the value of your claim. This includes calculating both economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages are the money you can prove you lost because of the accident. This might include money for medical bills, car repairs, and lost wages. To calculate these damages, you will need to know:
- How much your medical bills are
- The amount it will cost to fix or replace your car
- How much money you have missed from work
You might be able to get this information from your doctor, mechanic, or employer. If you cannot figure out all of the numbers yourself, it is best to speak with a lawyer who can help you estimate them accurately.
Non-economic damages are more difficult to calculate because they are not based on actual money lost. These might include things like:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
These damages are harder to determine because they’re subjective. A lawyer can help you estimate the value of these damages by looking at things like:
- The severity of your injuries
- How long you have suffered and are expected to suffer
- The impact the accident has had on your life
Understand that representing yourself isn’t always the best
You need to understand that when you go up against an insurance company, they will have lawyers representing their interests. If you choose to represent yourself, you’ll be at a disadvantage. This is because insurance companies are in the business of making money, and they’ll do whatever they can to limit the amount they have to pay out. A personal injury lawyer will level the playing field and ensure you are fairly compensated for your injuries.