Knowing when to hire a car accident lawyer makes all the difference following a car crash. They represent your best interests to ensure you get the compensation and protection you deserve. While a lawyer cannot heal your injuries, they can get you justice and reduce your financial burden. Here are some scenarios when you should hire an accident lawyer.
The Statute of Limitations Is Expiring
You can only sue for a finite amount of time after an unlawful incident. If you want to sue for personal injury claims related to a car accident, you have two years to do so under California law. The statute of limitations for property damages is three years, starting the day of the accident.
There are exceptions to these rules, including if your accident involves a state, federal, or government vehicle. You have six months to file a claim from the accident date in these cases. Government officials often deny these claims, in which case you can file within six months of the denial.
Once the statute of limitations expires, you can no longer bring your claim to the courts. That’s in part because gathering evidence and building a case becomes more challenging with time. The statute encourages people to file early for timely and swift justice.
The Insurance Company Plays Hardball
California is an at-fault start, so if the other driver bears responsibility for the accident, you’re likely entitled to compensation from their insurance provider. Remember that insurance companies make money collecting premiums and limiting claim payouts. It’s in their best interest to pay you as little as possible and protect their bottom line.
Insurance companies understand that victims are at their most vulnerable following a car accident. Beware of lowball offers that leave you with remaining medical bills, car repairs, and lost wages. They may also claim you’re lying about your injuries or coerce you into agreeing with a different version of events.
An accident lawyer puts your financial interests first. They represent you during negotiations while wielding evidence to ensure you get the maximum payout. A lawyer understands the tricks insurance companies use to elude compensation payouts and will stop each evasion in its tracks.
The Compensation Process Confuses You
Tomes of laws make the legal process like a labyrinth. You’re not alone if navigating the courts or legal procedures seems confusing. The moment you feel in over your head is a telling sign that it’s time to hire an accident lawyer.
Accident lawyers see and represent car accident clients multiple times per year. They understand how to prove fault, determine damages, and confirm you don’t leave any money on the table during negotiations. Lawyers are also there to counsel you so that you remain informed every step of the way.
Accident lawyers are especially useful for more extensive cases. A multi-car accident requires gathering more evidence, quotes, and interviews while juggling rules and deadlines. Keeping all these details straight is significantly easier with a legal expert at your side.
You Need Help Proving Liability
You may see your car accident as clear-cut when it comes to determining liability. For example, you were driving straight through a light that was turning from green to red. The driver coming from the other direction turned in front of you, which resulted in a T-bone collision when you had the right of way.
Even if that’s precisely how everything happened, no one wants to admit fault or liability in a car accident. The opposing driver doesn’t want to pay their premium, while their insurance company wants to minimize payout. Having an accident lawyer bolsters your ability to prove your claims in court and place the blame where it belongs.
You Have Severe Injuries or Emotional Distress
Car accidents result in two types of injuries: economic and non-economic. An economic injury covers anything with a tangible value or cost. That includes medical bills, car repairs, property damage, and lost wages.
Non-economic damages are subjective, covering injuries like pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium. California law does not have a uniform way to calculate these figures. One measurement involves multiplying the economic damages by a number between one and five based on the accident’s severity.
For instance, a fatal car crash may have $25,000 in total economic damages. An accident lawyer determines that it brought about the most extreme outcome and uses five as the multiplier. The lawyer would then use $125,000 as the accident settlement amount during negotiations and the possible court proceedings.
Non-economic damages are subjective, which makes them difficult to prove. An accident lawyer builds a case for you to validate your claim. This can include talking with psychologists, sharing before and after vignettes, and using hospital records to strengthen your anecdotes.