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Protecting Your Legal Rights and Interests in a California DUI Car Accident Case

The aftermath of being involved in a drunk driving auto accident can be devastating. If you have been involved in a DUI car accident you may face serious medical issues coupled with significant damage to your property, particularly your own automobile.

Should I hire a Car Accident Attorney?

There are occasions when the guilty party or parties are contested, and that’s when car accident victims start to wonder, “Should I hire attorney after a car crash?” There’s no easy answer, but before you settle your own insurance claim, consider these possibilities.

car insurance liability determination

Determining Liability after an Auto Accident

Car accident liability is determined by legal concepts that are unique in every region.

The Insurance Claims Process in California

Californians who are involved in automobile or motorcycle accidents may find…

Car Accident Guide for Los Angeles

The average driver experiences three to four car accidents in their lifetime, so it’s smart to be prepared if it ever happens to you.

Should I hire a Car Accident Attorney?

Should I Hire a Lawyer or an Attorney After an Auto Accident?

Accidents happen. Fortunately, minor fender benders can sometimes be quickly and easily settled without an attorney. Many times, both parties agree that one party or both parties were to blame. Witnesses, along with property damage assessment, can be crucial when it comes to finding fault. However, there are occasions when the guilty party or parties are contested, and that’s when car accident victims start to wonder, “Should I hire attorney after a car crash?” There’s no easy answer, but before you settle your own insurance claim, consider these possibilities.

Were you wrongly placed at fault?

When drivers and insurance companies deny fault, some victims accept the blame and move on. After all, insurance premiums are paid for a reason, some say. You may not even need anything out of pocket to make repairs or seek medical care.

However, before admitting fault, the driver should consider that future insurance premiums may be increased, even if you are not found at fault. Also, if an accident victim uses a company car or drives for a living, a vehicle accident may affect your driving record and could possibly put your job at risk, particularly if you accept blame for the accident.

It’s important to note that, if you choose to appeal the decision made by the insurance companies, you must prove that the other driver was responsible for the accident. This requires a court appearance.

You should never go to court without an attorney. Even if you believe it is an easy case to prove, you need to understand that there are many rules of evidence. You need someone on your side who understands the law.

What are the damages?

It’s difficult for a layperson to estimate property damages and medical claims. You may think you’ll only need enough to cover insurance deductibles and coinsurance. The consequences of not having an attorney could be substantial if you forget to negotiate for a settlement large enough to cover rental cars, travel expenses related to medical appoints and missed work.

Did a vehicle problem lead to the accident?

Over 53.2 million vehicles were recalled for safety reasons in 2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Many of these unsafe vehicles led to car accidents, so it is possible a vehicle manufacturer is to blame for your car accident. If you or the other party have had ongoing issues with your vehicles or have recently received a recall notice on your vehicles, be certain to bring this to the attention of your accident attorney.

Was there an injury or death?

Without a doubt, you should hire an attorney if you have been in a car accident that resulted in a death. It’s possible that you may be eligible to receive additional money in a wrongful death suit. Serious injuries are also difficult for laymen to assess, even with assistance from the medical community. Certain injuries are commonly associated with lifelong chronic pain. A seemingly small injury can sometimes become a life or death matter, lead to additional surgeries or affect a person’s overall quality of life.

Attorney is able to foresee additional issues, and adequately protect their client based on what he or she has witnessed in previous cases. Likewise, if the vehicle accident was your fault and led to a serious injury or death, it is wise to hire an attorney since personal assets could possibly be at risk if a civil suit is filed against you. The consequences of not having an attorney in that case could be significant and long-lasting.

Can I file my own lawsuit?

If you are considering going to court without an accident attorney, consider the number of hours you must likely devote to the case. You will not only need time to learn the law, how it relates to the case and how to present a case, you’ll also be required to file lots of paperwork at the courthouse before presenting the case to a judge or mediator. You also may need to settle the case, which takes time. An experienced attorney can more quickly settle a claim. While you may reduce legal fees by representing yourself in court, it’s also possible that you may put your job in jeopardy by missing too much work. If you suffered injuries from the accident, it may also cause stress that impedes the healing process. Think of the many ways an experienced attorney can assist you during the claims process when you ask yourself, “Can I file my own lawsuit?”

Should I hire Attorney after car crash?

As previously mentioned, hiring an attorney is not always necessary. However, there are times when you should definitely seek legal advice from an attorney. You should hire an attorney after a car accident:

…if the police report does not accurately explain the accident or damages.

…if the accident involved city, state or federal property or employees.

…if the accident occurred within a construction zone.

…if the accident involved pedestrians.

…if either insurance company claims the policy premiums have not been paid.

…if you do not have insurance.

…if you believe additional money may be collected from other insurance policies, such as home insurance.

…if you feel as though your insurance company is acting in bad faith (not seeking the maximum settlement you are owed).

…if you are confused by the insurance company’s explanation of benefits.

…if you need a legal advisor to check any documents you have prepared yourself.

…if an insurance adjuster requests medical records predating the accident.

…if you feel the insurance company has made you an unfair offer.

…if your line of work makes it difficult to prove loss of wages.

…if you are seriously injured and unable to pay your bills due to the accident.

If you are suffering from pain or stressed due to the unforeseen financial burden created by the accident, you should consider to not represent yourself in court or settle your own claim.

What’s the Difference between a Lawyer and an Attorney?

The words are interchangeable. They both mean the same thing generally. However specifically a lawyer is one who has studied law, but may not actually practice law, while an attorney has both studied and is practicing law. If you are a member of the American Bar Association you’ll use the distinctions. As all attorneys are lawyers, but not all lawyers are attorneys. Think of it a bit like cars vs vehicles, not all vehicles are cars, but all cars are vehicles, but they can still be used interchangeably in most conversations.

When and how should I Choose an Attorney?

You should choose the attorney as soon as possible after the accident. You can certainly settle a small personal injury claim yourself (although an attorney is generally useful even for smaller claims), but you will absolutely need an attorney for any personal injury claim where you suffered significant injury or other losses.

How do you decide between a small claim in which you don’t necessarily need an attorney and a larger claim where you will need an attorney? In general, if you are out of work for more than a couple of days, if you break a bone, or if your medical bills total more than a couple of thousand dollars, you should hire an attorney.

You should certainly talk to a number of attorneys, and you might want to meet with several of them. After you choose an attorney and sign a fee agreement, he/she will start working on your case.

An Attorney will Investigate your Claim and Review your Medical Records

The first thing that the attorney will do is thoroughly interview you about how the accident happened, your medical condition and any medical treatment you have received. The attorney wants to know everything that you know about the accident and your injury and treatment. During the interview make sure to answer all questions as completely as you can.

Then, the attorney will get all of your medical records and bills relating to the injury and will probably also get your medical records for any treatment that you have ever had relating to the condition at issue in the case.

After the interview, gathering of facts, and medical records come in, the attorney will take everything into consideration to evaluate if there is a case and if so what is the value of the case. The attorney may determine that there is no case and will deliver the bad news to the client very early on in the representation.

Again you don’t always have to hire an attorney after car accident, but why risk losing your case based on ignorance of the law? Don’t accept blame for an accident you did not cause, and do not unknowingly reduce your settlement by not understanding your rights. Call a car accident attorney today.

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Posted on : Sep 06, 2017
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