Should I Get a Lawyer for a Car Accident That Wasn’t My Fault?
After a car accident, victims and their families often realize that they need to resolve a lot of issues, even if the accident wasn’t their fault. How do you pay for the hospital visit? What happens if your injuries force you to miss work? How do you get money to pay for the repair work needed on your car? Will the insurance company cover it all? If the accident wasn’t your fault, do you talk to your insurance company first? Or the other driver’s insurance company?
For car crash victims, these are all important questions, and we want to help get you the information you need to make the right decisions for you and your family. Talking with a lawyer after an accident is always a good decision because:
1) Lawyers offer free car accident case evaluations.
2) Car accident cases are usually litigated on a contingency fee basis, which means it will cost you no money upfront.
As you can see, you do not have much to lose by consulting with an attorney after an accident. We believe it is a good idea to talk with a lawyer, especially if you sustained significant injuries and/or property damage.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Car Accident That Wasn’t My Fault?
- Why You Should Consult a Lawyer Before You Talk to the Insurance Company, Even if the Accident Wasn’t Your Fault
- Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer Helps Ensure You Obtain Full and Fair Compensation
- What Happens If You’re Partially Responsible for a Car Accident?
- Do I Need a Lawyer for Car Accident Injury?
- Do You Need a Police Report for a Car Accident Claim?
- What Does a Car Accident Lawyer Do?
- Car Accident Law Firm in Los Angeles
Why You Should Consult a Lawyer Before You Talk to the Insurance Company, Even if the Accident Wasn’t Your Fault
Speaking or negotiating with an insurance company without first speaking to a lawyer can be risky. It is important to remember that any statement you make to the insurance company can be easily misconstrued and potentially used to diminish your settlement or even reject your claim outright.
Remember, insurance companies are motivated to minimize or altogether avoid the payouts they owe accident victims. They may attempt to get you to sign a quick settlement, which may sound good in theory if you need the money, but which does not properly compensate you for your loss.
An experienced car accident lawyer can help you avoid these pitfalls by ensuring that your claim is valued appropriately. At Wisner Baum, our accident attorneys will thoroughly investigate the circumstances of the crash that injured you, guide you through the complex claims process, and obtain the outcome you deserve.
Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer Helps Ensure You Obtain Full and Fair Compensation
The amount of compensation awarded in car wreck cases is determined by the severity and extent of the injuries suffered. For example, a person who experiences a broken arm will not have the same claims for damages as a person who becomes paralyzed as a result of the accident.
Economic & Non-economic Damages
Car accident damages are categorized as economic or non-economic, with economic damages encompassing costs such as medical expenses and lost income, and non-economic damages compensating for the pain and suffering and the impact on one's quality of life.
Here are some common damages that can be sought in a car accident case:
- Past and future medical bills: Medical expenses directly related to the accident, including those already paid and those expected to be incurred in the future, are considered economic damages. A car accident lawyer with experience in this area can help gather the necessary documentation to demonstrate the need for continued medical care and treatment, which can significantly impact the value of the case.
- Lost wages due to missed work: Lost wages include not only the income that would have been earned had the injury not occurred but also additional benefits and bonuses. These can encompass a range of factors such as hourly wages, annual salary, overtime pay, sales commissions, and paid time off. Calculating lost wages accurately requires careful consideration of various income sources affected by the injury.
- Lost earning capacity: Severe injuries may prevent accident survivors from being able to perform their previous work duties. For instance, a construction worker who sustains significant neck or back injuries may be forced to switch to a lower-paying job due to physical limitations. Proving lost earning capacity can be challenging, making it essential to work with an experienced injury lawyer who can engage medical and occupational experts to build a compelling case. It is worth noting that not all states permit plaintiffs to sue for lost earning capacity.
- Loss of consortium: When an injury prevents a person from providing the same level of love, affection, services, and companionship to their spouse or close family member as before the accident, damages for loss of consortium may be pursued. The specific amount awarded varies, but generally, the severity and duration of the injury play a significant role in determining the compensation. However, it is important to note that not all states allow victims to sue for loss of consortium.
- Pain and suffering: Damages for pain and suffering cover the physical pain, mental and emotional distress, and anguish endured as a result of the injuries sustained. For instance, a person left with permanent facial disfigurement due to an accident may seek compensation not only for the pain but also for the ongoing suffering and impact on their future. Pain and suffering, as well as loss of consortium, fall into the category of non-economic damages, as they are not easily quantifiable like medical bills or lost wages. To secure an award for pain and suffering, extensive evidence should be collected to demonstrate the profound impact of the accident on the victim's life.
- Punitive damages: Designed to punish the defendant and discourage similar wrongful or dangerous behavior by others, punitive damages can be substantial if it can be shown that the defendant exhibited reckless indifference to human life or safety, or acted maliciously. Notably, our firm won a jury verdict in 2019 that included $2 billion in punitive damages, although the final amount was later reduced. This landmark case sent a powerful message to the defendant and paved the way for multi-billion-dollar settlement agreements for thousands of plaintiffs facing the same injury.
What Happens If You’re Partially Responsible for a Car Accident?
In the aftermath of a car accident where fault is not entirely one-sided, understanding your rights and responsibilities becomes crucial. In many states, including California, the principle of "comparative fault" is applied to determine how liability is assigned and what it means for those involved in the accident.
California's Comparative Fault Principle:
California follows a comparative fault system, specifically known as "pure comparative negligence." This legal concept acknowledges that accidents are often the result of multiple factors and that more than one party may share some degree of responsibility.
Here's how it works:
- Shared Responsibility: In California, even if you are partially responsible for an accident, you can still pursue a claim for damages.
- Proportional Compensation: The compensation you receive will be reduced in proportion to your degree of fault. For example, if you're found to be 30% responsible for the accident, your compensation will be decreased by 30%.
- Complex Legal Calculations: Determining the exact percentage of fault can be a complex legal process. Insurance companies and attorneys may negotiate and present evidence to establish the degree of responsibility of each party involved. When liability is in question, you should have experienced legal counsel advocating on your behalf.
- Court Intervention: If a settlement cannot be reached through negotiations, a court may step in to make a final determination of liability and compensation.
Why Legal Representation Is Essential?
Seeking legal representation is a wise choice in cases where partial responsibility is a factor. An experienced attorney can assist in:
- Assessing the evidence to determine the extent of your liability.
- Negotiating with insurance companies to secure a fair settlement.
- Representing you in court if a satisfactory resolution cannot be reached through negotiations.
- Ensuring that your rights are protected and that you receive the compensation you deserve based on your level of responsibility.
In such cases, having a skilled attorney by your side can make a significant difference in ensuring you are treated fairly, and your interests are well-protected within the framework of California's comparative fault system.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Car Accident Injury?
Generally speaking, if you sustained injuries in an automobile accident you should talk to a lawyer. Remember, most car accident law firms offer free consultations where you can ask questions about the case and see what compensation you might expect in a settlement.
Also, car accident cases are usually handled on a contingency fee basis, which means it will not cost you any money out-of-pocket. At Wisner Baum, we only make money if we are successful in resolving your case with a settlement or verdict.
Here are a few common examples of car accident cases a lawyer should evaluate:
- A crash that caused serious injuries or death.
- The injuries sustained have forced the victim to miss work for a period of time.
- The victim received an accident settlement offer from the insurance company that does not cover expenses.
- The car accident involved multiple parties.
- The crash involved a negligent or reckless driver.
- The crash involved an uninsured driver.
- The crash involved a commercial truck.
Do You Need a Police Report for a Car Accident Claim?
In many cases, a police report is essential for a smooth and fair resolution of your car accident claim, especially when the following is involved:
- Injuries or significant damages: If the accident resulted in injuries or substantial damage to your vehicle, having a police report can provide crucial documentation to support your claim. It helps establish the severity of the incident and the need for compensation.
- Disputed liability: When fault for the accident is in question, a police report can be a valuable piece of evidence. It can help clarify who was responsible for the collision, assisting insurance adjusters and legal professionals in their assessments.
- Legal proceedings: If you plan to file a lawsuit related to the accident, a police report can be pivotal in establishing your case's foundation.
What If You Don't Have a Police Report?
If you were involved in a car crash and didn’t obtain a police report, there are still other steps you can take to protect your interests since insurance claims can go forward even if you don’t have a police report.
- Gather evidence: Even without a police report, collect as much evidence as possible. Take photographs of the accident scene, vehicles, and any visible injuries. Gather witness statements, exchange insurance information with the other party involved, and make your own detailed account of the incident.
- Expert witnesses: In the pursuit of a successful claim for compensation, expert witnesses can wield significant influence. With their specialized knowledge and expertise, these individuals bring added weight to their testimony. By carefully analyzing the conditions surrounding an accident, they can provide valuable insights into what transpired, bolstering your case.
- Seek medical attention: If you have injuries, it is crucial to seek medical treatment promptly and keep all medical records, as they can serve as evidence of the accident's impact on your health.
- Consult an attorney: If you encounter difficulties in your claim process due to the absence of a police report or other issues, consider consulting with an experienced car accident attorney. They can provide guidance and help you navigate the complexities of your case.
While a police report can significantly support your car accident claim, its absence doesn't mean you can't pursue compensation. By taking proactive steps and seeking professional legal assistance, you can still work towards a fair resolution even without an official report.
Do I Need a Police Report for an Accident That Wasn’t My Fault?
In California, state law mandates the submission of a police report within 24 hours of an accident involving injuries, even if they are minor, or property damage exceeding $1,000. Filing a police report, though not always required, is highly advisable for several reasons:
Establishing Fault: Demonstrating fault is crucial for your claim. A police report offers an authoritative, comprehensive account of the accident, aiding in the determination of liability. California's comparative fault law allows recovery based on the degree of fault. For example, if you're 25% at fault, you can only seek 75% of your losses. Detailed case information is vital.
Critical Information: A police report provides valuable details you might not know to gather, especially when shaken up after an accident. It includes eyewitness accounts, officer-issued citations, the officer's crash assessment, and relevant scene evidence.
Strong Evidence: A police report can become a potent piece of evidence, bolstering your case with comprehensive information and an impartial officer's testimony. When the report aligns with your version of events, it's challenging to dispute, streamlining negotiations.
Record Creation: Filing a police report establishes an official record, lending legitimacy to potential legal claims. It also validates any related medical expenses and vehicle damage claims.
Preventing False Claims: A police report deters other parties involved from making false, contradictory claims after a crash.
If you call the police at the accident scene and they generate a report, you may not need to file a separate one. However, inquire about obtaining a copy for your records. If you do not file a report immediately, you can do so by contacting the police station, visiting in person, or, in some cases, filing online post-accident.
What Does a Car Accident Lawyer Do?
A car accident lawyer’s primary role is to advocate for the rights and interests of clients harmed in car accidents, whether they are drivers, passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists. Car accident lawyers provide a range of services to help clients obtain the compensation they deserve after suffering injuries in an accident.
Below are some of the services a car accident attorney can assist you with:
- Legal consultation: Car accident lawyers begin by providing a legal consultation to understand the specific circumstances of the accident. They assess factors such as the severity of injuries, property damage, and liability to determine the potential strength of a case.
- Investigation: After a thorough evaluation, car accident lawyers conduct an investigation into the accident. This often involves collecting evidence, including photographs, police reports, witness statements, medical records, and proof of damages. The goal is to build a strong case to support the victim's claims.
- Negotiation with Insurance Companies: One of the primary responsibilities of a car accident lawyer is to negotiate a car accident settlement with insurance companies. This involves presenting evidence, evaluating the extent of damages, and ensuring that the victim's rights are protected.
- Filing Claims: Car accident lawyers prepare and file personal injury claims with the at-fault driver's insurance company. They ensure all necessary documentation is submitted accurately and within the specified timeframes.
- Pursuing Full Compensation: Car accident attorneys play a crucial role in helping clients calculate the amount of compensation they need to cover past and future expenses related to the accident, as well as pain and suffering and potentially punitive damages. Skilled car accident attorneys have the knowledge to evaluate the full extent of their clients' damages and losses. They work closely with medical experts, economists, and other professionals to assess the financial impact of the accident, including current and future medical expenses, rehabilitation costs, lost wages, and potential loss of earning capacity. Car accident attorneys also consider non-economic factors such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life when calculating the appropriate compensation.
- Legal Representation: If negotiations with insurance companies do not result in a satisfactory settlement, car accident lawyers are prepared to file lawsuits and represent their clients in court. They take the case through the entire legal process with the objective of obtaining the compensation the victim deserves.
- Protection Against Insurance Tactics: Car accident lawyers are skilled at countering tactics employed by insurance companies to limit payouts. They work diligently to ensure the victim receives a fair and just settlement.
In summary, a car accident lawyer's primary role is to provide legal representation and support to individuals who have been injured in car accidents. Their experience in personal injury litigation, negotiation skills, and commitment to pursuing full compensation makes them an invaluable ally for accident victims seeking justice and financial recovery.
Car Accident Law Firm in Los Angeles
In the aftermath of a car accident, it is a good idea to utilize the free case evaluations offered by most law firms. This helps ensure that you do not accept a settlement worth less than the actual value of your case. We have seen it happen many times where a crash survivor, desperate to fix their car and pay medical bills, accepts a lowball car accident settlement from the insurance company. Please do not accept a settlement offer from the insurance company without speaking to an attorney first.
At Wisner Baum, we have the experience and proven results needed to successfully negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and present evidence to show the true extent of your damages. This will help get you the compensation you deserve.
Our law firm has offices throughout California to best meet the needs of injured survivors who need an advocate to fight for them:
To schedule a free, confidential consultation regarding your case,fill out our contact form or call (855) 948-5098. We accept cases in California and throughout the country.