Last updated on October 17th, 2023 at 10:04 pm
Car accidents can be overwhelming and painful experiences. You may go from driving peacefully to sustaining injuries and having your personal property damaged beyond repair. Once the initial shock has dissipated, you may wonder whether you should reach out to an auto accident lawyer to help you recover the compensation you will need to help you with your injuries and losses. If this is your first time in this situation, you may also need someone to help you file the required paperwork in a timely manner to avoid missing any important deadlines.
However, once you are with your lawyer, you may need to figure out what to ask them to get the peace of mind of knowing that you are in good hands. Here are five questions you may want to ask your car accident attorney regarding your case.
How Do I Protect My Case?
After being injured in a car accident, there are several actions you can take to protect your legal rights. You must stay at the accident scene until the police arrive and issue a report of the accident. Request a copy of this valuable document to give to your attorney and insurance company. Also, avoid speaking with the other driver or their insurance company until your lawyer has had a chance to review the facts of your case and can advise you about it.
While still at the scene, take pictures of both vehicles, and their position on the road, your injuries, and anything else you believe might have contributed to the accident, such as debris on the road. Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. Be sure also to get the contact information of any witnesses who might have seen the accident.
You can also help protect your case by not posting anything about it on social media and not discussing it with anyone other than your attorney.
What Type of Compensation Am I Entitled to Recover?
In general, after being injured in a car accident you may be entitled to compensation for your economic damages. These are all expenses related to your medical care, from doctor’s visits and treatments, to surgeries, hospital stays, therapies and rehabilitation, prescription medications, and more. They also include any wages, bonuses, or commissions you could not earn while taking care of your health, and the money you may need to fix your car.
You may also recover compensation for non-economic damages. These are harder to quantify and include pain and suffering, emotional distress, PTSD, and others. Your attorney can help you calculate a monetary value for these intangible items. In some extreme cases, the judge may also award you punitive damages.
How Long Will My Car Accident Case Take to Settle?
Every car accident case varies regarding the severity of the injuries involved, the clarity of liability, and several other factors. However, your attorney should be able to evaluate your case and give you an approximate timeframe for how long the settlement process may take and how much your case may be worth.
While some car accident cases take just a few weeks to settle, others may drag on for months or even a year if they are especially complex. However, the average time for a straightforward car accident case is about three months. Yet, it is best not to rely on averages when it comes to your case. Your lawyer may be able to give you a much more accurate idea of the timeline.
When Do Negotiations Begin in A Car Accident Case?
Negotiations begin as soon as the other party or their insurance receives a demand letter. In this document, your attorney will detail your side of the story, explaining how the other driver was negligent. They will also provide a detailed list of your losses and injuries backed up by supporting documentation. Your lawyer may include a copy of the police report, statements from witnesses, photographs of the accident scene, lists of your medical treatments and bills, and any other evidence you may have. Not having supporting documents can result in a settlement that is not large enough to cover your losses or a denied claim.
How Do I Evaluate an Insurance Company’s Offer?
As negotiations move along, you may find that the insurance adjuster will come to you with what they claim is their “final” offer. At this point, you may feel pressured to accept it, believing that saying no will result in your case dragging or your claim being denied. Your lawyer can help you by reviewing the offer and asking the insurance adjuster whether this is the highest offer they are authorized to make. You may be surprised to discover that the adjuster is being dishonest or that their responses are vague. However, at some point, you will have to decide whether you want to accept the offer or if you are willing to take the time needed to get a higher amount.
You may have to take the time to evaluate the offer by considering whether:
- There is a chance that filing a lawsuit and going to court will result in a higher award in your favor, considering the time and expense that this implies.
- There is a chance that the lawsuit will result in you walking away with nothing.
- The cost of a lawsuit will be greater than the award you might receive.
- You might end up in court.
Keep in mind that when you go to court, the judge will not be aware of the settlement offer you rejected. You will not be able to talk about any settlement negotiations at all. Refrain from handling these decisions on your own. Talk to your lawyer about the best way to proceed.