Should I Hire a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
No one is prepared for a car accident, especially one that results in an injury. After an accident, accident victims may wonder if it’s worth reaching out to a personal injury attorney. They may ask themselves, what factors are important in determining if there is a personal injury case? What steps must be taken when it comes to filing a car accident claim? How will I pay my medical bills? What happens if I am out of work because of my injuries?
If you are in a car crash and injured, you likely have these same questions and more. Here is what you need to know about the factors in a possible personal injury claim and why you should always reach out to a personal injury lawyer after an injury car accident.
Factors in Determining a Personal Injury Claim
After a car accident with injuries, car accident victims may wonder what factors are used to determine if there is a potential personal injury claim. While each accident case is different depending on the circumstances of the crash, there are general guidelines and considerations that help victims, and their attorneys file a case.
The following factors are key in determining whether there is a personal injury case after an accident:
Fault and Liability
The biggest factor in determining if a car accident victim has a personal injury claim is who was at fault or liable for the accident in the first place. If another driver or person was solely responsible for the accident, your likelihood of recovery for your car crash claim is strong.
When it comes to determining liability in a car accident case, it’s not always as easy as people think, however. There are different levels of fault and liability that must be considered, including:
Proximate Cause: Proximate cause in a car accident is a concept that’s a bit complex and may be difficult to understand. Essentially, proximate cause is the actual act, or failure to act, that was the official and legal cause of the car accident that led to property damage and injuries. Proximate cause may not always be the fault of the driver. Let’s take a look at two scenarios to better explain this concept.
If a driver swerved out of his lane for no reason, hits your vehicle, and you were injured, the driver of that vehicle is the proximate cause and what’s called the “cause-in-fact” of your injuries. In this scenario, the driver would be liable for property damages and personal injury damages. But what if the driver was swerving to avoid someone riding a bicycle carelessly?
If the vehicle swerved to miss the erratic bicyclist and hit your vehicle, the bicyclist may be the proximate cause, and the driver is the “cause-in-fact” of your injuries. The bicyclist in this case- not the driver, unless the driver’s reaction to the bicyclist was not reasonable – would be liable for damages.
Comparative Negligence: In some cases, you may share the responsibility for a car accident and your financial recovery will reflect your portion of the liability. In these cases, the concept of comparative negligence comes into play.
Let’s say you get into an accident at an intersection and are found to be partially at fault. Pennsylvania is a modified comparative negligence state, which means that if you are found to be less than 50% at fault for an accident, you can recover damages according to the other parties’ percentage of fault. If there are more than two other parties found to be at-fault, each party will have to pay their portion of the damages.
Gross Negligence or Recklessness: Gross negligence and recklessness – sometimes, viewed interchangeably although they are not – are states of mind assigned greater culpability than comparative negligence and refers to the defendant’s extreme disregard for the safety of others. Basically, the person responsible for the accident knew the dangers of his or her actions yet did them anyway. Gross negligence and recklessness are often cited in drunk driving and distracted driving personal injury cases.
Extent of Injuries
Accident victims can sustain a wide range of injuries in an accident, from minor injuries such as bruises, to life-altering injuries such as paralysis. The type and extent of your injury will certainly influence your personal injury claim amount.
Generally speaking, more severe and protracted- or permanent-type injuries result in larger settlements and jury recoveries, and minor injuries result in smaller awards. Extreme injuries with permanent consequences like paralysis, loss of a limb, and permanent disability caused by a spine injury often result in higher amounts due to their impact on quality of life, medical expenses and potential income loss.
Timing of Medical Attention
If you were hurt in a car accident, the timing of when you sought medical attention can be a deciding factor in your personal injury claim. If you wait to see a doctor, the insurance company may deny your claim and say your injuries were not the result of an accident. Remember – insurance companies will try to reduce their financial responsibility after a car accident and will do what they can to minimize compensation.
Personal Statements & Witness Statements
After an accident, anything you say can have an impact on your personal injury claim. You should always be careful of communications with the other driver and especially with the insurance adjuster.
For example, saying you’re sorry to the other driver may be taken as your admission of guilt in causing the accident. It is always best to keep conversation to a minimum and to contact a personal injury attorney for a free consultation. They can guide you on how to handle the call with the insurance company and can determine if you have a personal injury case.
You should also keep in mind that witness statements can have an impact on your claim. If a passerby or a driver in another vehicle saw how the accident occurred, their statements can be relevant. After an accident, if possible and not detrimental to your ability to receive proper medical attention, it’s important to get the contact information of any witnesses that can provide insight into the car accident.
How Car Accident Attorneys Can Help
One of the biggest influences on a car accident victim’s personal injury case is whether they have engaged with a personal injury law firm. Car accident attorneys can help build your personal injury case and help you receive maximum compensation for your injuries.
Personal injury attorneys can take on the process of a personal injury claim and let you focus on recovering. An attorney that specializes in car accident cases can help in many ways, to include:
- Documentation of Injuries and Medical Treatments: To file a personal injury claim, you must have suffered some type of injury. Documentation is critical and a personal injury law firm can help you trace your injuries back to the accident. Medical appointments, treatments, and medical bills create mounds of paperwork, and an injury law firm can help keep everything organized and tracked from day one.
- Deal with the Insurance Companies: Insurance companies have a team of people working to minimize claims including adjusters, accountants, and their own attorneys. When you work with a law firm, your attorney will deal with the insurance company, so you don’t have to.
- Help Determine Fault: As previously mentioned, determining who was at fault after an accident can be complicated. A car accident law firm can investigate the accident, review witness statements, and work on your behalf to prove the fault of the other driver. Doing this alone can be overwhelming and detrimental to your case. Having an experienced attorney can increase your chances of receiving a fair settlement.
- Negotiate Your Settlement: Oftentimes after a car accident, the insurance company of the at-fault driver will immediately offer a lowball settlement. They want to settle the case as quickly as possible for the lowest amount in order to avoid a trial. When you work with an attorney, they will negotiate your settlement and help you make an informed decision.
- Build a Case for Trial: Most car accident personal injury cases are settled before they get to a judge or jury, but not all. Top personal injury attorneys will treat your case as if it were going to trial, just in case it gets to that point. The best auto accident lawyers will take all steps necessary to protect your compensation and to let the insurance company know you are serious and want a fair settlement.
After a car accident with injuries, reach out to a personal injury law firm as soon as possible. Working with an experienced law firm with proven success, time and time again, increases your chances for maximum compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Having the right law firm on your side can also help reduce the stress of the aftermath of an accident.
Personal Injury Lawyers in Lancaster, Pa
At Georgelis Injury Law Firm, we understand what car accident victims go through – the stress, anxiety, and financial burden can be incredibly overwhelming. You should not have to go through the trauma of a car accident alone. If you were injured in a car accident, reach out to us today for a free consultation to understand your rights.
Our team of attorneys and paralegals has the experience, grit, and know-how to help you recover compensation for your expenses and hardships related to the accident. We have been named the top personal injury and accident law firm year-after-year by Lancaster County Magazine, we have nearly two-hundred 5-star reviews on Google, have won more than 99% of our cases, and we’ve recovered more than $85,000,000 for our clients.
Let us take on the insurance company for you. Start a discussion online or call us at 1-800-HURT-NOW.