How an Attorney Can Help With Your Car Accident Claim
No one begins the day thinking about being injured or killed in a car accident. Those types of things always happen to other people, yet in a year in which a pandemic caused a 19% drop in the number of miles people drove in North Carolina, state officials reported an increase in the number of deaths from traffic accidents. More than 1,500 people who started their day without giving a thought to being in a car accident died as a result of being in one.
When someone’s careless or reckless behavior causes you to be injured or to experience the loss of a loved one, a car accident attorney becomes a much-needed and trusted advocate to ensure that victims and their families receive the compensation they need and deserve. There are many reasons why working with a competent and experienced car accident attorney could be the difference between a favorable outcome and one that you wind up regretting.
Investigate the accident and gather evidence
Your recollection of what happened before, during, and after a car accident is important, and your attorney will spend time going through it with you. However, a collision between two fast-moving vehicles happens so suddenly that most drivers and passengers in the vehicles involved in them rarely know exactly what happened and, perhaps more importantly, how it happened.
A good attorney knows the important role of evidence to prove what happened, how it happened, and to identify the party or parties that were at fault. Maximizing the amount of compensation you receive through negotiations leading to a settlement of the claim or through a verdict after a trial depends on the ability of your lawyer to produce evidence. The evidence must be capable of convincing a claims adjuster handling the claim for the at-fault party’s insurance carrier or a panel of jurors that you deserve to be compensated.
An investigation into the claim will include the following:
- Taking photos of the accident scene and surrounding area as soon after the accident as possible.
- Photos of your car and the damage done to it can shed light on impact points and help in proving the cause of the crash. If possible, your attorney will attempt to get photographs of the other vehicles involved in the crash and the damage they sustained.
- Obtaining copies of reports prepared by police. If fire or ambulance services were dispatched to the accident, your lawyer may obtain copies of written reports that may contain information, including statements from people involved in the crash as well as observations by emergency personnel, that support your claim for damages.
- Interview and obtain statements from eyewitnesses who saw what happened or who spoke to the other parties whose vehicles were involved in the accident.
- Speak with owners of businesses or homes near the scene of the collision that have surveillance cameras with video of the crash.
Besides gathering evidence about the collision, a personal injury attorney works with the physicians, physical therapists, and your other health care providers to obtain medical records about the care and treatment of your injuries. The records provide valuable evidence supporting the extent and severity of the injuries inflicted on you and prognosis for your short- and long-term recovery.
Identify the cause of the crash and the parties responsible for causing it
Personal injury attorneys use their knowledge of the law and experience to analyze the evidence gathered during their investigation to put together a theory about the cause of a crash and identify parties whose negligence contributed to it. For example, a distracted truck driver who was too busy checking his phone for text messages to pay attention to traffic congestion ahead of him may not be the only party who is responsible for a crash. Evidence gathered by your lawyer of the driver being unable to stop in time because of faulty brakes due to a lack of maintenance of the truck may also allow you to make a claim against the leasing company that owned and was responsible for maintaining.
Handle negotiations with insurance companies and defense lawyers
A lawyer takes away the burden of dealing with adjusters and other representatives from insurance companies to allow you to focus on getting the medical care needed to recover from the injuries caused by the accident. It also removes an advantage that claims adjusters have when dealing with accident victims who do not know the true value of their car accident claim.
Your car accident lawyer studies jury verdicts and settlements in car accident cases to evaluate the facts and circumstances of a car accident claim, including the extent of your injuries and prognosis for your recovery, to estimate its value. Lawyers frequently share evidence that supports a claim with an adjuster to cut off attempts to downplay how seriously you were injured or how a collision occurred.
The following are only a few of the many insurance-related matters an attorney handles on your behalf:
- Insurance companies need to hear about an accident from their policyholder, so your attorney sends a written notice of your claim for damages to the parties responsible for causing the car accident with a demand that they notify their insurance carriers of the claim.
- Help you to prepare the notice of the accident to your own insurance company to fulfill the terms of your insurance policy.
- Handles all communications with the opposing insurance carrier to prevent a claims adjuster from bothering you or attempting to trick you into making a statement about the accident or the injuries you suffered.
- Negotiates on your behalf with insurance companies to achieve a favorable settlement of your claim.
- Keeps you informed of the status of negotiations.
The ideal situation is to reach a negotiated settlement because it avoids delays that may accompany taking a case to trial. However, insurance companies know that a car accident lawyer at The Clauson Law Firm, PLLC, will not hesitate to take a case to trial when negotiations fail to achieve a settlement that is fair to injured victims of car accidents who we represent.
File a lawsuit and prove liability and damages in court
When adjusters engage in tactics designed to delay or refuse to negotiate in good faith, it becomes necessary to file a lawsuit. Filing a lawsuit does not mean that efforts to achieve a settlement on your behalf come to an end. In fact, many cases get settled at the start or during a trial.
A lawsuit has stages with time periods the parties must adhere to in order to avoid being penalized by the judge assigned to the case. For example, once the lawsuit is filed, the party being sued, called the “defendant,” has a specific amount of time to respond to the allegations contained in the complaint prepared by your car accident attorney. Time limits cut down on stalling tactics that may occur before a lawsuit is filed.
Your attorney prepares the paperwork required to file and pursue a lawsuit, which in North Carolina include the following:
- Summons and complaint: These documents start a lawsuit by notifying the defendants of the lawsuit and demanding they respond to the allegations and demand for damages contained in the complaint. Defendants must respond with an answer within the time specified by law.
- Discovery: This is the stage when the parties exchange information and evidence about the case. Discovery may include interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and depositions, which are in-person sessions where the parties must respond to questions asked by the opposing lawyers.
- Alternative dispute resolution: Car accident cases must go through either mediation or arbitration as part of the lawsuit process before they go to trial. Mediation is non-binding and involves an impartial mediator attempting to get the parties to reach a settlement of the case. The parties may choose arbitration with an impartial arbitrator who hears the evidence presented by the parties and decides the outcome of the case.
- Trial: When a case goes to trial, the experience of your car accident attorney is of crucial importance because the attorney must possess the skills to present evidence, including witnesses, in a way that persuades a judge or, if the case is tried in front of a jury, a panel of jurors to decide in your favor and award damages.
Your attorney will make every effort throughout the lawsuit process to engage in negotiations with the claims adjuster or defense attorney in an effort to settle the claim.
A trusted source of legal advice and guidance
When the careless or reckless conduct of another party causes you to be injured, a car accident attorney from The Clauson Law Firm, PLLC, gives you a trusted adviser and dedicated advocate aggressively fighting to ensure that you recover the maximum amount of compensation for your car accident claim. Our attorneys handle your car accident case on a contingency fee basis, so you do not pay a fee unless we recover damages on your behalf. Contact us today for a free consultation and claim evaluation.