Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer After a Car Wreck?October 12, 2020
Car wrecks continue to be an unfortunate reality, despite the advances in safety technology. Whether the wreck is a minor fender bender or a serious head-on collision, victims can suffer a range of injuries and minor to extensive property damage. Some motorists may avoid hiring a car wreck lawyer to save time and money. However, the claims process can be overwhelming for anyone who does not have experience dealing with insurance companies or the claims process.
As a result, victims who do not hire a lawyer are less likely to secure the maximum financial compensation that they deserve. A skilled and experienced car wreck lawyer will assist clients through every step of the claims process, negotiate with insurance companies, and take every step necessary to reach the best possible outcome. A lawyer will perform the following:
- Communicate with the other driver’s insurance company: When an injured motorist hires a lawyer, one of the first things the lawyer will do is communicate with the insurance adjuster for the other motorist involved. Establishing a positive, respectful relationship with the other driver’s insurance agent will increase the chances of a successful settlement.
- Negotiate with insurance companies: Insurance companies are in the business of making money, so they are going to do what they need to pay as little money as possible. In addition, they have a team of high-paid lawyers and adjusters who will use every tactic imaginable to pay out as little money as possible. They may offer a modest settlement, try to deny the claim, or use other tactics that will result in the claimant getting less money than he or she deserves. Lawyers have experience dealing with insurance companies and can negotiate on behalf of the client to secure the maximum financial compensation.
- Prove liability: Depending on the circumstances of the car wreck, proving liability can be a complex process. A skilled car wreck lawyer will collect the necessary evidence, including copies of the accident report, medical records, and witness testimonials, and will consult with experts to build a rock-solid case that protects the client’s legal rights and proves that the other motorist was at fault. Oftentimes, it can be difficult to obtain some of these documents, including bills from health care providers, even though these records technically belong to the patient. Secretaries or paralegals may need to follow up on requests for documents multiple times. When they do receive the information, doctors do not always specify the exact cause of the injury, or that the injury was the result of negligence. A lawyer will follow up with the doctor and request a special letter in which the doctor offers his or her opinion if the wreck caused the injuries.
- No upfront fees: Most lawyers offer an initial consultation free of charge. In addition, victims should not be billed by a lawyer unless a successful financial settlement has been reached. In other words, the lawyer gets paid only if the client gets paid.
- Explain the statute of limitations: When filing an injury claim, the injured motorist must file the claim within two years from the date of the wreck. If the motorist fails to meet this deadline, the claim will likely be denied, and the injured motorist will not be eligible to collect compensation. A lawyer will ensure that his or her client meets this important deadline.
- Obtain maximum compensation for damages: A lawyer understands the range of damages for which the injured motorist is entitled and will take the necessary steps to obtain the full compensation they deserve, including current and future medical expenses, lost wages and future loss of income, property damage, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.
- Negotiate with lien holders: In some cases, individuals may receive benefits from health, disability, or Workers’ Compensation benefits, which means that the insurer will have a lien on the claim. Therefore, whatever settlement amount that is reached, the lienholder gets paid before the injured motorist receives compensation. A lawyer will communicate with the lien holder to reduce the lien amount so that more money goes into the pocket of the injured motorist.
- Make settlement recommendations: Oftentimes, insurance companies will offer an initial settlement amount that is well below what the client deserves. Other times, a lump-sum offer is made. Although it may be tempting to accept such an offer, a lawyer will be able to review the offer and determine whether it is fair, or if the legal team should negotiate for a better offer.
Why Should I Avoid Handling a Claim by Myself?
Although motorists may not need to hire a lawyer for a minor wreck, when property damage is more extensive and the injuries more serious, it is highly recommended that motorists consider hiring a skilled car wreck lawyer. Generally, victims should hire a lawyer if the total cost of their medical bills exceeds $3,000, or if the injuries cause the victims to be out of work for more than a week.
If an individual accepts a settlement offer and realizes later that the amount does not cover all expenses associated with the wreck, including medical costs, lost wages, and property damage, they will not be eligible to reopen the case after it has been settled. This means that they will be responsible for any costs that the settlement amount did not cover. Depending on the severity of the injuries and the property damage, the individual may be responsible for paying thousands of dollars in expenses that could have been avoided. According to the Insurance Research Council, individuals who hire a lawyer obtain up to three and a half times more money than those who attempt to settle their claim on their own.
How Soon Should I Hire a Lawyer?
It is important for victims to understand that the moment an insurance company is notified of a car wreck, they are going to come up with as many tactics as possible to devalue the claim of the person who is filing a claim. The sooner a motorist contacts a lawyer, the sooner the lawyer will be able to get to work and take the necessary steps to protect the motorist’s interests and secure the best possible settlement amount. Ultimately, a lawyer will take the stress out of the claims process so that the client can focus on recovering from his or her injuries.
What Questions Should I Ask Before Hiring a Car Wreck Lawyer?
Although it is important to hire a car wreck lawyer as soon as possible, it is important to find a lawyer who is experienced in personal injury law and who has a solid reputation. Before meeting with a car wreck lawyer, the individual should collect as much information about the wreck as possible, including photos taken at the scene, witness testimonials, copies of the insurance policy, medical records, and the other driver’s information that was exchanged at the scene. The motorist should also be prepared with a list of questions that they should ask the lawyer during their initial meeting. The client should ask about the following:
- Are there any up-front fees that clients are responsible for paying? If so, what are they?
- How many years has the lawyer been practicing law?
- How much experience does the lawyer have with handling serious car wreck cases?
- What percentage of the client’s case will be handled personally by the lawyer? How much will be handled by other associates or paralegals?
- How many injury lawsuits does the lawyer settle each year?
- How much of the lawyer’s practice handles car wreck cases?
- How long will it take to reach a settlement?
- What kind of financial settlement can the client realistically expect to receive?
- Will the lawyer personally handle all negotiations and court appearances?
- Does the lawyer charge a retainer fee?
- What percentage of the settlement money can the client expect to take home after the lawyer’s legal fees and expenses are paid?
- Will the client be expected to pay the legal fees if the lawyer does not win the case?
- Can the lawyer provide references from past clients?
Baltimore Car Wreck Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Secure Maximum Compensation for Injured Victims
If you were seriously injured in a car wreck, contact the Baltimore car wreck lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton at your earliest convenience. We have a proven track record of reaching successful settlements for victims. Our dedicated legal team will walk you through every step of the claims process and ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. Protecting your rights is our top priority and we will not stop fighting for you until you are completely satisfied. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.