An accident attorney is a lawyer who specializes in helping accident victims get compensation for their injuries, damages and losses. They have extensive knowledge of personal injury law, insurance policies, and negotiation tactics to get their clients fair settlements.
Some of the common types of accident attorneys include:
The right accident lawyer for you depends on the type of accident you were involved in. Make sure to choose an attorney who routinely handles cases just like yours.
After being injured in an accident, you may wonder if you really need to hire a lawyer or if you can handle it yourself. Here are some key times when it pays to have an experienced accident attorney on your side:
If you were seriously injured with broken bones, head trauma, burns, spinal cord damage or other life-altering injuries, you will likely have substantial medical bills and lost income. An attorney can document evidence to prove liability and seek the maximum compensation you will need for recovery and lost wages.
Insurance adjusters represent the company’s interests, not yours. If the insurer is delaying your claim, refusing to pay or is giving you the runaround, a lawyer can aggressively negotiate on your behalf. An attorney levels the playing field against their team of lawyers.
When multiple parties like drivers, pedestrians, manufacturers or property owners contributed to an accident, liability gets complicated. Having a lawyer pinpoint each party’s negligence and pursue them for compensation is crucial.
Those seriously injured often do not realize all the damages they can claim, like loss of enjoyment of life, future medical costs and pain and suffering. An experienced lawyer will pursue full compensation under the law that you did not even know was available.
While every accident situation is different, having an attorney is advisable if any of the above apply to you. An accident lawyer has the savvy to successfully fight for maximum compensation when you need it most.
Establishing who is at fault and liable for damages is critical to reaching a fair settlement or court award. Accident lawyers use a variety of evidence and strategies to build a strong case proving liability:
Pursuing every avenue to prove fault allows accident attorneys to maximize their client’s financial recovery.
When you retain an accident attorney, you can expect them to take the following key steps on your behalf:
Your lawyer will start by gathering police reports, visiting the accident scene, interviewing witnesses, taking photographs and more. Reconstructing how the incident occurred helps prove liability.
Your attorney will stay updated on your treatment status, therapies and prognosis. This record of medical expenses will feed into the damages demand.
Lawyers will handle all communications with insurers. They submit claims documentation, negotiate fair settlements and push back against lowball offers.
Lawyers will identify every liable party that contributed to the accident, even non-obvious ones like manufacturers. Targeting multiple defendants maximizes compensation.
These letters formally demand insurers and defendants pay damages. Demand letters start negotiations, show the attorney is serious, and preserves legal rights.
If an adequate settlement offer is not made, lawyers prepare lawsuits demonstrating how the defendants were negligent and owe damages.
At every stage, lawyers work towards negotiating a fair settlement or taking the case to trial for a court victory. Their experience gives clients leverage.
Having an attorney handle these aspects of your injury claim reduces stress and puts you in the best position to recover losses.
Not all accident attorneys have the same track record of success. When researching lawyers to hire, you should ask:
Choosing the right accident attorney takes research to find someone with proven expertise. They should demonstrate professionalism and make you feel comfortable entrusting them with your injury claim.
Seasoned accident lawyers have refined negotiation skills to settle cases effectively. They employ tactics like:
When represented by an experienced negotiator, clients are more likely get full and fair compensation.
Most accident cases settle out of court before ever going to trial. However, sometimes going to trial is the only way for an accident victim to secure maximum compensation for their damages. Reasons attorneys may head to trial include:
While trials are unpredictable, tort cases with strong evidence of egregious liability often justify taking the matter all the way before a jury.
If your accident attorney advises going to trial for maximum compensation, here is what you can expect:
Attorneys will question and screen a jury pool to seat objective jurors who will evaluate evidence fairly. Complex cases may have longer jury selection.
Lawyers will summarize their main arguments and evidence for each side that they will present more fully during trial.
Fact witnesses and expert witnesses take the stand to testify to what they saw and their professional opinions that help establish liability and damages. Witnesses are cross-examined by opposing counsel.
Relevant documents, photographs, videos, police reports and other evidence are submitted. Physical evidence like defective car parts may also be shown.
The final statements before the jury deliberates, where lawyers rehash the most persuasive evidence and arguments supporting their case.
The jurors debate amongst themselves the facts of the case to decide if the defendant is liable and damages to award the plaintiff if so.
The jury’s decision is announced in court. If the verdict favors the plaintiff, the judge enters a judgment requiring defendant compensation. Appeals may still occur after.
While emotionally taxing, for some accident victims, a trial is the only way towards just closure and compensation.
The costs of hiring an accident attorney include:
Contingency Fees – Most accident lawyers work on contingency, meaning they only collect a percentage fee if they successfully recover compensation for you. Fees range from 25% to 40% of your total settlement or award.
Case Expenses – Lawyers front expenses like court filing fees, expert witnesses, investigations and more. These costs are reimbursed out of your settlement.
Retainers – Some firms require an upfront retainer, with unused amounts refunded back to you at the case conclusion. Retainers can range from $1,000-$5,000.
Associate Attorney Fees – Larger law firms may have associates assist on your case who bill at hourly rates of $100-$300.
Trial Costs – Taking a case to trial accrues higher legal preparation work, court fees, and other expenses. But trials often gain higher rewards.
The right lawyer helps accident victims maximize compensation despite legal costs. Be sure to understand fee arrangements during attorney consultations.
Calculating what a personal injury settlement should pay is complex. Accident lawyers consider these factors:
Experienced personal injury lawyers know how to quantify even hard to determine damages like pain and suffering into fair settlement demands.
Those injured should take these steps immediately after an accident before contacting an attorney:
Taking these proactive steps helps accident lawyers investigate liability, prove damages, and pursue fair compensation for your injuries.
While accident attorneys handle a wide variety of injury cases, these are among the most common:
Car crashes cause over 2 million injuries annually across rear-end, head-on, rollover, and other collisions. Victims suffer whiplash, back injuries, broken bones, spinal cord paralysis, and head trauma. Auto liability insurance is the primary source of damages payment.
Collisions with large 18-wheelers or commercial trucks cause severe injuries. Complex rules govern the trucking industry. Lawyers identify all liable parties like truck companies, manufacturers, maintenance firms, and more.
Motorcyclists involved in crashes face severe leg and head injuries, road rash, spinal damage, and death. Lawyers must overcome juror biases against motorcyclists to prove larger vehicles were at fault.
Injuries occur due to unsafe conditions in stores, restaurants, hotels and other business properties. Slip and falls due to wet floors, uneven stairs, poor lighting, defects, and lack of maintenance can be grounds for sizable damages.
Injured workers are entitled to workers compensation benefits. Lawyers help navigate the complex system and take additional legal action against negligent third parties who caused accidents.
If negligent medical care by a doctor, nurse, or health provider caused injuries, malpractice lawsuits can recover significant compensation for victims. These cases require extensive litigation resources.
Families who lost a loved one due to someone else’s negligence can bring a wrongful death lawsuit to hold the parties accountable. While no amount of money can ever replace a loved one, it helps the grieving process and replaces financial support.
The right lawyer for you depends on your specific accident circumstances. Do your research to retain an attorney experienced in handling cases just like yours.
The timeline varies, but these are typical steps in the accident claim process:
Step 1: Schedule a Consultation – Retain a lawyer for representation
Step 2: Investigation – Attorney gathers police reports, visit accident scene, take photos and interview witnesses.
Step 3: Send Demand Letter – Attorney sends an initial demand letter to all liable insurers and parties.
Step 4: Medical Treatment – Stay focused on doctor visits, therapy and treatment to document injury costs.
Step 5: Negotiation – Attorney negotiates a settlement, counteroffers back and forth multiple times through demands and offers.
Step 6: Settlement Agreement – If a negotiated settlement is reached, it is documented in a settlement agreement and release.
Step 7: Lawsuit – If responsible parties do not make a fair offer, a personal injury lawsuit is filed.
Step 8: Pretrial Motions – Lawyers file motions arguing issues like liability facts and discovery disputes.
Step 9: Trial – If no settlement is reached, the case proceeds to a trial before a judge or jury.
Step 10: Verdict – The court decides if the plaintiff is owed damages and how much. Appeals may still follow.
This entire process often takes 1-2 years depending on case complexity and how quickly a fair settlement is reached. Having an attorney avoids the stress of navigating these legal complexities.