If you were in a minor car accident with only minor property damage or minor injuries, you might be tempted to handle your own accident claim. After all, doing so can save you money on legal fees and help you get a quick settlement to pay for the costs that come from the accident.
But there are times when you really need to get help from a lawyer. Here are five good reasons to hire a lawyer after a car accident.
What Happens in a Car Accident Claim?
If someone gets hurt in a car accident, they have rights under tort law and insurance law. Since Florida has a no-fault auto insurance system, insurance law decides when tort law applies and how much you can get after an accident.
In Florida, everyone who owns a car and has it registered must have personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. The PIP insurance pays for 80% of your medical bills and 60% of your lost income.
After an accident in Florida, you file a claim with your own auto insurance company, not the insurance company of the driver who was at fault. Under “no-fault” rules, your insurance company pays PIP benefits even if you were at fault for the accident.
In case of a small accident, the $10,000 in PIP benefits from your insurance policy will cover your costs. Under Florida law, you can’t file a claim or lawsuit against the driver who was at fault for minor injuries or accidents with damages of less than $10,000.
But serious accidents can cause severe injuries. The no-fault system in Florida lets you file a liability claim or lawsuit against the driver who caused the accident if:
- Have lost more than $10,000 because of medical bills and time missed from work
- Hurt yourself badly and permanently
In these situations, you will have a fight with the driver who caused the accident and their insurance company.
Five Reasons Why You Should Hire A Lawyer After A Car Accident
In your case, you might find yourself in a situation where you don’t know what to do or feel like the insurance company for the person at fault is being unfair to you. A good lawyer will have the knowledge and experience to help you get money in a number of ways, such as:
1. Forcing Insurers to Play Fair
Insurance companies don’t work for policyholders or claimants. Instead, they work for the people who own the company.
When you make a claim, the insurance company sees you as a threat to how much money it can make. The more claims an insurance company pays out, the less money it has to invest and make money. So, they often go to a lot of trouble to avoid paying a claim.
Insurers may try the following to get you to accept a low settlement offer:
- Taking your time or putting off your claim
- Claims being turned down on technical grounds
- You are being blamed for causing or contributing to the accident
The Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act is used in Florida, as it is in most other states. This law tells insurance companies what they can and can’t do when an auto insurance claim comes in.
Lawyers make sure that these rules are followed by claim adjusters. When insurers don’t try to settle a claim in good faith, lawyers can remind them of what Florida law says they have to do.
Most importantly, a lawyer can file a bad faith insurance claim if the insurance company doesn’t handle your claim honestly and fairly. Most of the time, insurers don’t play games because they might get sued for bad faith.
2. Overcoming Claim Denials
Insurers frequently deny claims. Some of these rejections are because of how you filled out a form, for example. Sometimes they happen for good reasons, like when investigators find that the policyholder wasn’t to blame for your accident.
In most cases, though, an insurer will turn down a claim because it doesn’t have enough information. The insurance company might want more information about your injuries or have questions about the care you got.
When this happens, the insurance company will usually pay some of your claim but not the rest. They think you’ll take whatever they offer, even if it doesn’t make up for what you’ve lost.
A car accident lawyer can make sure you get the full value of your case even if your claim is turned down. The lawyer knows how to deal with insurance companies and will be able to provide more proof or legal arguments to overturn unfair denials.
3. Keeping Your Case Organized
No matter what caused your accident, you will have to fill out a lot of paperwork, such as:
- Accident reports
- Medical records
- Witness statements
- Wage records
In the event that your matter is brought before a judge, the court papers, depositions, and documents provided by the other party will all be considered.
These records can be organized by a law firm, and then the firm can use those records to create the strongest possible case for financial recompense.
4. Negotiating Settlements
Insurance companies don’t care about how they treat you. Instead, they think about what might happen if they don’t settle the case: a lawsuit. In other words, they want to pay you as little as possible so you won’t sue them.
Even if your claim is accepted, the insurance company will often offer a settlement that is much less than what your case is worth. In some cases, the offer won’t even cover the costs you have to pay out of your own pocket.
A good lawyer can look at your case, help you figure out what a fair settlement would be, and then negotiate with the insurance company to settle it.
5. Suing the At-Fault Driver
If your lawyer can’t settle your case, you might have to go to court. A lawsuit is just a way for a judge and jury to figure out what went wrong.
Your lawyer will write and file the papers that start your lawsuit. Once your case has started, they will gather evidence and file motions to set the rules for it.
Throughout the case, their main goal will be to settle your claim, but if it goes to trial, they’ll be able to show a jury your evidence and arguments.
Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer
If you were hurt in any of the above kinds of car accidents, there’s no reason not to hire a car accident lawyer.
Most personal injury lawyers work on contingency fees, which means that people can get legal help and only pay for it if it helps them win their case. With this method, you can get the help of an attorney with little risk and no cost upfront.