Following a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you’re likely to be seeking a fair settlement for your losses. But the insurance adjuster might offer you the bare minimum settlement amount, placing a lower value on your claim than you believe to be fair.
In this situation, you’ll need to stand your ground and prepare to negotiate. But facing up to insurance companies can be extremely intimidating and difficult without a good car accident attorney by your side.
It’s rarely a good idea to file a claim and send your damages demand letter to the insurance company without first obtaining legal counsel. This is true whether you’re claiming first-party benefits from your own insurance company or third-party benefits from the other driver’s insurance company. In either case, an attorney can offer significant help.
In Texas, personal injury protection is mandatory for all drivers. Texas is an at-fault state, meaning the insurance company of the driver responsible for the accident must pay the damages.
Whichever driver’s insurance company you’re dealing with, the negotiation process usually requires a great deal of evidence to prove the full value of your damages. An experienced car accident lawyer can gather that evidence for you, handle all communications with the insurance provider, and ensure that you’re seeking the maximum possible compensation.
As a result, car accident victims usually receive a much larger insurance settlement when they hire an attorney. Let’s look more closely at exactly when and how a lawyer can help you with your car accident claim.
If the accident left you with minor property damage to your vehicle, the insurance company may offer to cover the repair costs to your satisfaction. In these relatively simple cases, without any physical injuries or other damages and complications, an attorney may not be necessary.
But the more extensive the property damage, the more likely the claims adjuster is to devalue your claim with a low settlement offer. And to dispute the minimum amount they’re offering, you’ll have to enter settlement negotiations.
If your car was totaled, you’ll need to prove its full value, ideally with the help of an attorney who’s experienced in such matters. Insurance companies offer settlements based upon a fair market valuation or replacement valuation of your vehicle.
Disputing their valuation requires evidence such as recent sales of similar cars and current vehicle listings. And if you installed upgrades that enhanced the car’s value, you can also seek to prove this with photos and receipts.
When accident victims suffer anything more than very minor injuries, a personal injury lawyer becomes more of a necessity to recover the costs of medical treatment. Not only do car accidents often result in serious injuries, but they also cause ongoing health issues that require medical treatment in the future as well.
The costs of recovering from the most severe of injuries, such as surgery, traumatic brain injury treatment, or chiropractic treatment, can be financially devastating. Without an adequate insurance provider payout, some victims never even receive the treatment they need.
If you’ve been seriously injured, it’s essential to win the full value of any prior and ongoing medical expenses. This includes all prescriptions, medical equipment, costs of travel to and from hospitals, physical therapy, and all other related expenses.
Always bear in mind that you can only file one car accident insurance claim per crash. If the settlement you accept isn’t enough to cover your long-term medical bills, you’ll need to pay the remainder yourself.
A separate health insurance plan might cover it, but once again, you may find yourself forced into negotiations over the compensation offered. When any medical costs are involved, it’s almost always best to hire a good personal injury attorney to negotiate the personal injury settlement for you.
While receiving medical treatment, it’s quite likely that you’ve been unable to work. Lost earnings count as financial losses that should be included in the damages of your personal injury claim.
While most insurance coverage does cover lost earnings, the claims adjuster will usually dispute the figure in your demand letter unless you provide evidence. This requires pay stubs, bank statements, letters from employers and doctors, and sometimes expert accounting or occupational witnesses in the case of high earners with complex income structures.
Car accident cases will also often involve damages for future lost earnings. This is where your injury has reduced your capacity to earn a living or somehow shortened your work life expectancy.
As calculating future lost earnings requires making estimates for the future, it’s even harder to prove. But an experienced car accident attorney can gather evidence and expert witnesses to win you a full and fair settlement amount from the insurance carrier.
So far, we’ve covered the common financial losses from an accident: property, medical, and income-related damages. But most personal injury cases also include non-economic damages.
These are harms you’ve suffered that don’t have a clear objective monetary value. Some of the most common non-monetary damages in a personal injury claim are pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, disfigurement, humiliation, unjust hardship, loss of consortium, and loss of enjoyment in life.
If you believe you’re entitled to pain and suffering and other subjective damages, it’s certainly advisable to hire an attorney. Without a strong understanding of car accident law or reliable legal guidance, it’s very difficult for a car accident victim to know which of these subjective damages apply to their case. It’s also difficult to know what they’re worth.
Personal injury lawyers can calculate pain and suffering in reasonable monetary terms, whereas an inexperienced victim might claim too much or too little. A lawyer can then present the evidence and retain expert witnesses to prove the value of your pain and suffering and other non-monetary damages in a way that the claims adjusters find hard to dispute.
Once you’ve established your damages, you need to file the claim and send a demand letter to the insurance company. The demand letter details the facts of the case, your entire experience of the accident, the damages you believe you’re entitled to, and your desired minimum settlement amount. This letter initiates the negotiation process.
The legal significance and level of detail required for this letter makes it a daunting task for most claimants. Furthermore, accident victims who write this letter without a lawyer often unwittingly make mistakes that harm the value of their claim.
These mistakes can be hard to recover from, even if you hire an experienced lawyer later on. For this reason, in all but the very simplest of personal injury claims, it’s best to have an attorney draft and send this letter for you.
Immediately following a car accident, you should ideally collect essential information and items of evidence from the accident scene. This includes all relevant details of the other driver and their vehicle, the police report, pictures and videos of the accident scene, contact details of eyewitnesses, notes on any comments from people at the scene, your own thoughts on events, and more.
If you were hospitalized, you might not have been able to do all this. In this case, a friend or family member could collect evidence for you. Another option is to immediately contact a personal injury lawyer who can leap into action and send a special investigator to the scene.
Most car accident cases settle out of court. But occasionally, it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit against the other driver and take your case to be decided before a judge and jury. And for this, you’ll certainly need an experienced car accident lawyer fighting your corner.
Legal action usually only becomes necessary when the insurance adjuster won’t agree to a fair settlement amount. Sometimes a court decision is necessary to obtain full compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and other losses.
Lawsuits can be considered the nuclear option in settlement negotiations with insurance companies. You usually won’t need it, but the option’s always there.
When recovering from an injury, the last thing most car accident victims want is to dive straight into the unfamiliar legal waters of insurance claims and potential lawsuits. But delaying your injury claim is rarely a wise choice.
The longer you leave the investigatory and evidence-gathering stage, the harder it becomes to collect solid eyewitness testimony and accurate records of events and build a strong case. This is one of the greatest benefits of hiring a lawyer: they immediately get the ball rolling while you’re still recovering.
Insurance companies are delighted when car accident victims postpone their claims. Apart from allowing evidence to grow cold, there’s also a legal time limit on lawsuits that will further reduce the claimant’s negotiating power if passed.
In Texas, the statute of limitations on car accident lawsuits is two years from the date of the accident. This might seem like a long time, but remember that your initial insurance claim is just a claim, not an actual lawsuit. The lawsuit comes later, only if necessary.
Complex car accident claims can last many months, sometimes even years, and during this prolonged negotiation process, you want to retain the option for legal action. Once that two-year deadline has passed, you’ve lost the threat of a lawsuit, which lessens your negotiating strength with the insurance company.
Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. For their legal fees, they take a percentage of the final settlement payout from the insurance company and nothing from you. Their fee is typically about one-third of the final payout.
This is a very cost-effective way for victims to retain a car accident lawyer. You gain top-notch guidance on all case-related legal matters without paying a dime.
Also, accident lawyers usually offer a free case review and consultation. This means you can talk to a lawyer and gain a much better understanding of your claim and its worth before making your final decision.
Have a free consultation today with an experienced car accident lawyer in Bryan and College Station, TX. Contact Brian C. Gutierrez at 979-271-5338 for a lawyer who will fight the insurance company to win you the full and fair compensation you deserve.
If you have been injured in a car accident in College Station, Bryan, Madisonville, Huntsville, Buffalo, Caldwell, Navasota, Buffalo, Rockdale, Hempstead, or Brenham, it is important to speak with a lawyer who can help you understand your rights and guide you through the claims process. At the Law Office of Brian C. Gutierrez, Attorney Brian Gutierrez is committed to providing personalized legal services for victims of car accidents. When you work with our firm, you are working directly with Attorney Gutierrez. Our clients are like family—contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about the services we offer.
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