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Shirvanian Personal Injury Law Firm
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Home / Auto Accident / Is it Worth Getting a Lawyer for a Car Accident Claim?

Weighing the options of getting a lawyer for your car accident claim

Is it Worth Getting a Lawyer for a Car Accident Claim?

California boasts some of the nation’s busiest roads, home to over 35.6 registered million vehicles and more than 27.7 million licensed drivers. Cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego are infamous for heavy traffic and high crash rates.

If you were involved in an auto collision in California, you may be considering hiring a lawyer for a car accident but wonder if it’s worth it. Knowing the role and responsibilities of a car accident attorney and the pros and cons of having legal representation can help you decide if getting a lawyer is the right move for your claim.

Car Accident Statistics in California

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) reported 162,407 motor vehicle crashes on California’s state highways in 2021. 1,712 of these crashes resulted in at least one fatality, and 54,877 caused at least one injury. In total, 1,879 individuals were killed, and 79,861 were injured in these accidents.

Additional car accident statistics show that:

  • Los Angeles County is one of the deadliest in the state, with over 40,000 accidents causing injuries and 811 fatal crashes in 2022.
  • The top three most dangerous cities in California for drivers are Los Angeles, San Diego, and Sacramento.
  • The most common causes of car accidents in California are distracted driving, speeding, and substance-impaired driving.
  • The total number of traffic fatalities in California reached 4,285 in 2021, a 7.6% increase compared to 2020.
  • 52.9% of all tested drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes tested positive for at least one substance, legal or illegal.
  • 1,370 road fatalities in California involved at least one alcohol-impaired driver or motorcycle rider.

How a Car Accident Can Impact Your Life

Car accidents range from minor fender-benders to massive highway pileups. Regardless of the crash scale, the impact on your life can be profound, leaving you with physical, emotional, and financial damages, such as:

  • Medical expenses. After a crash, you may face thousands of dollars in medical bills, including expenses for hospital stays, surgeries, physical therapy, and ongoing medications. These costs can add up quickly, leaving you with medical debt that impacts your financial stability.
  • Property damage. Property damage can range from minor repairs to the total loss of your vehicle and personal belongings damaged in the crash. Depending on the severity of the crash, these repair or replacement costs can be significant.
  • Lost wages and future earning potential. Lost wages result from being unable to work while recovering from your injuries. This means missing out on regular paychecks while you recover. If your accident caused a permanent disability, it could also affect your opportunities for career advancement, affecting your financial stability and professional growth.
  • Pain and suffering. You may experience long-term pain and suffering after a crash. This refers to physical and emotional damages related to your injuries, such as chronic pain and emotional distress, that impact your daily life.
  • Loss of consortium. Loss of consortium deals with the negative effects on your relationships, especially with a spouse or close family members. You may experience a loss of companionship, affection, and support due to the injuries sustained.
  • Psychological impact. Crashes leave a major impact on victims’ emotional and mental health. You may have issues like anxiety, depression, and PTSD following the accident that reduce your quality of life.

When Do You Need a Lawyer for a Car Accident Claim?

As part of a car accident claim, you can seek compensation from another driver for all damages caused by their negligence. While you can file on your own, it’s crucial to understand when a lawyer can be beneficial for your case.

Here are a few reasons to get a lawyer after a car accident:

  • You or another driver was seriously injured. If you or other parties in the accident suffered severe injuries, it can complicate your case. A lawyer can help you navigate the specifics of your claim’s legal and insurance-related aspects to help you receive the compensation you deserve.
  • It’s not clear who’s at fault for the accident. Not all car accidents are clear-cut. Some involve multiple vehicles with many potential parties at fault. In other cases, one of the parties may dispute their liability. An attorney can help you gather the evidence necessary to determine who is responsible for your injuries and advocate on your behalf.
  • You need assistance with paperwork. Lawyers can assist you with paperwork related to your case. For instance, an attorney can obtain copies of your traffic crash report, fill out insurance claims on your behalf, collect medical records, and draft settlement demand letters. If your case goes to trial, an attorney can also handle legal filings with the court, such as complaints or discovery motions.
  • You received a low settlement offer. Insurance providers typically offer low amounts in the hopes of settling quickly. A personal injury car accident lawyer can negotiate with them to ensure they make an offer that covers your losses.
  • Your damages exceed the other parties’ policy. In some cases, the total cost of your damages may exceed the responsible parties’ insurance policy limits. A lawyer can help you pursue other avenues for compensation, including filing a lawsuit if necessary.
  • You suffered non-economic damages. A qualified personal injury car accident attorney can assess your non-economic damages after the accident. They can estimate and include these damages in your claim, helping you obtain compensation for pain and suffering and other non-financial losses.
  • You are concerned about the statute of limitations. In California, the statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is two years from the date of the accident. A lawyer can help you file your claim on time so you don’t lose your chance to recover damages.

Is it Worth Hiring an Attorney for a Car Accident?

When deciding whether to hire an attorney, you need to weigh the pros and cons of obtaining representation. Considerations can include their legal experience, cost, your peace of mind, and the outcome of the claim. Here’s a deeper look:

Consideration

Pros 

Cons

Case Outcome

Hiring an attorney often leads to a more favorable outcome, including higher compensation for damages and injuries, due to their negotiation skills and legal experience.

The improvement in outcome might not always offset the cost of legal fees if you have a minor claim.

Cost vs. Benefit

Many attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you only pay if you win, aligning their interests with yours and potentially offering a high return on investment.

Contingency fees mean that a portion of your settlement goes to attorney fees. Choosing a firm with a lower contingency fee can help you keep more of your damage award.

Understanding the Legal Process

Attorneys have a comprehensive understanding of the legal process and can handle complex legal procedures, increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of your case.

If you have a straightforward case, you may not need an attorney’s help; however, legal representation always ensures your rights are protected, no matter the size of your claim. 

Negotiation Experience

Lawyers are experienced in negotiating with insurance companies and can counter lowball offers effectively, securing better settlements.

Legally, you can handle negotiation discussions on your own; however, without representation, you may accidentally admit guilt or undervalue your claim.

Peace of Mind

Delegating the legal work to a personal injury car accident lawyer can reduce your stress, allowing you to focus on recovery and other personal matters.

Only applies if your attorney is unreliable or non-communicative. Working with a skilled law firm can always offer peace of mind, knowing a professional is handling the settlement process.

Why You Should Always Hire an Attorney for an Auto Accident Claim in California

Hiring an attorney post-car accident is a smart move. Injuries mean you should prioritize healing, not navigating insurance claims or collecting evidence. A skilled lawyer can boost your chances of winning a settlement award with:

Accurate Damage Assessment

Hiring an attorney ensures a comprehensive and accurate damage assessment after an auto accident, which can be difficult to achieve on your own. They compile essential documents—medical records, repair invoices, and proof of lost wages —to assess both immediate and future financial effects.

They also quantify pain and suffering to reflect the injury’s non-economic toll, applying a multiplier of 1.5 to 5 based on severity, ensuring compensation for diminished life quality post-accident.

This assessment is key; overestimating damages can damage your credibility, whereas underestimating them means not fully compensating for your losses. An attorney will fight for a fair settlement that covers all your damages.

Advise You On Legal Do’s and Don’ts

An attorney is crucial for navigating the legal maze after an auto accident, as your actions can sway the case’s outcome. They’ll steer you on the right path to safeguard your rights, advising:

  • Do document everything related to the accident, including photos of the scene, your injuries, and all related expenses.
  • Don’t agree to a quick settlement with insurance companies without consulting your attorney, as initial offers may not fully cover your damages.
  • Do seek medical attention immediately after the accident, even if you feel fine, to create a documented record of your injuries.
  • Don’t post details or comments about the accident on social media, as these can be used against you.
  • Do follow through with all recommended medical treatments to show you are taking your recovery seriously.
  • Don’t downplay or exaggerate your injuries; instead, maintain your daily routine as far as your physical abilities allow while recovering.
  • Do keep a detailed diary of your recovery process, noting any pain, discomfort, or emotional distress, to support claims for pain and suffering.

Get You Maximum Compensation

Your attorney can maximize your recovery award post-auto accident by tapping into every compensation avenue, including:

  • Coverage under your own insurance. An attorney can help you access your under or uninsured motorist coverages if the other driver lacks insurance. This can help you get compensation for your damages even if the other party can’t pay.
  • Ride-share company insurance. Handling cases involving companies like Uber or Lyft comes with complex insurance scenarios. Lawyers are skilled in managing these situations, ensuring that ride-share companies or their insurers are held accountable.
  • Evidence to minimize your fault. California uses pure comparative fault, which allows both parties to present proof of liability in a claim. A lawyer can collect evidence to reduce your percentage of fault, maximizing your compensation.

Get Legal Representation After a Car Accident

Hiring a lawyer after a car accident in California can give you peace of mind and ensure your interests are protected. In addition to providing legal guidance and helping you understand the claims process, an attorney can use their years of negotiation experience to win you fair compensation to cover your accident-related losses.

They can help you find the evidence needed to build your case, determine which parties are liable, and pursue the compensation you need, whether through a settlement or trial.

FAQs

Yes, it’s beneficial to have a lawyer after a car accident that wasn’t your fault. Your attorney can help secure proper compensation, manage insurance interactions, and offer professional advice, protecting your interests effectively.

After a car accident, the best way to know if you have a valid case is to schedule a free consultation with an attorney. They can review the details of your case, assess your potential damages, and determine who might be at fault. If they believe you have a case, they can advise on your next legal steps.

No. Very few car accident cases end in a trial (99.9% are settled out of court) because litigation is more expensive and has less predictable outcomes than a settlement. However, hiring a lawyer means you will be fully prepared if it does. They can argue your case in front of a judge or a jury, increasing your chances of a successful outcome.

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