In 2018, one out of every 164 Pennsylvania citizens was injured in an automobile collision, according to PennDOT. This equates to around nine vehicle accident injuries every hour due to the 352 collisions that occur each day of the year (on average). Many of those hurt were likely entitled to compensation from the parties who caused their injuries.
However, there is a great deal of misunderstanding about who is entitled to file a personal injury claim and when it is best to retain an expert personal injury attorney. Here are some of the most often asked questions regarding hiring a lawyer by Pennsylvania car accident victims and their families.
After a car accident, when should you hire an attorney?
After an accident, insurance company attorneys and claims adjusters begin working on claims. To reduce their own financial risk, they may blame the other motorist in accidents where their insured may be at fault. Speaking with an attorney as soon as possible after an accident can provide you with answers to your legal questions and advice on dealing with the insurance companies that may contact you.
In the following instances, you should contact an attorney to represent you after an automobile accident:
-You were injured, and/or your car was severely damaged. For example, you might not need the services of a vehicle accident damage attorney if you were engaged in a minor fender-bender that did not result in significant injuries. In all other cases, however, consulting with an expert car accident injury attorney is the best approach to safeguard your legal rights to compensation.
-It seems evident, or even simply possible, that someone else’s activities caused the accident. Any car accident in which someone else’s activities may have played a role, such as an accident involving more than one vehicle or any accident involving a sudden, unexpected loss of control of your car, should be discussed with an attorney.
–The other driver’s insurance company has given you a low-ball settlement. Before agreeing to a settlement or making an official declaration to a third-party insurance provider, you should consult with an attorney. It is difficult, if not impossible, to have a clear and full idea of the costs that accident injuries may have on your life immediately following an event.
As a result, you risk accepting a settlement in your case that is far too low and will not fully pay the expenditures you face now and in the future unless an experienced attorney has assisted you in analyzing the magnitude of the losses you have suffered. Furthermore, you won’t be able to go back and ask for more money once you’ve accepted a settlement.
–Your injuries are significant and will last a lifetime. Permanent injuries come with a lifetime of costs, such as more operations, hospitalizations for complications, housing adaptations, and decreased earning potential. Allow an attorney to assist you in obtaining the funds required to pay for them.
-A government agency’s negligence caused your accident. Recovery of compensation from a municipal or state government institution as damages for the improper actions of its personnel requires competence and know-how. To assist you, seek the advice of an experienced attorney who is familiar with the complexities of pursuing legal action against a government agency.
–A loved one died as a result of the accident’s injuries. If you or a loved one has died due to another driver’s negligence or recklessness, you may be entitled to compensation through a wrongful death claim. For example, after the death of a 19-year-old young woman in a truck accident, a family in West Pittsburgh filed a wrongful death action against the truck driver and the company for which he worked. The catastrophe occurred when the truck driver’s tractor-trailer collided with a parked vehicle, trapping the 19-year-old inside.
After the accident, the truck driver failed to check on the victim, offer assistance to her family members who observed the event, call for medical assistance, or otherwise assist the young woman. She died in the hospital two days after the accident from her injuries. The complaint claims that the corporation continued to utilize the truck that hit the woman’s car for deliveries after the accident. An attorney can provide you with more information about who is eligible to file a wrongful death claim and may be able to assist you in recovering damages caused by the loss if you need it.
Is it Possible to Sue on Your Own for Damages Caused by a Car Accident?
Yes, in theory. In truth, there is no way.
Car accident injury lawyers spend their days assisting victims of car accidents in obtaining compensation from negligent parties. However, learning the ins and outs of gaining maximum settlements from insurance companies and top-dollar judgments from Pennsylvania juries takes years of study and expertise.
Simply put, lawyers know how to get you all of the money you are entitled to. But unfortunately, you’re unlikely to have the skills or finances to pursue compensation, especially if you’re enduring physical difficulties due to the accident.
What can attorneys help you with that you virtually certainly won’t be able to do on your own?
-Develop a legal strategy for maximizing compensation. Various regulations and rules can influence when you can pursue legal action for damages following an automobile accident. Lawyers understand how to use those laws and guidelines. But, unfortunately, you don’t have it.
–Make a list of all parties that may be liable to you legally. Lawyers who have represented vehicle accident victims know where to search and what to look for to identify all parties who may be liable for damages to you. The more people they find with the financial means to settle your claim, the higher your chances of getting the money you deserve.
-Establish the worth of your claim. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to put a monetary figure on the injuries you’ve received in a car accident. It requires totaling your out-of-pocket expenses resulting from the accident and projecting such expenses into the future. It also necessitates assigning a monetary value to the damages you incurred that cannot be quantified, such as your pain and suffering and damage to your relationships. Lawyers have years of experience estimating certain types of damages appropriately. If you try to add them up on your own, you’ll almost certainly lose money.
-Collect the evidence you’ll need to back up your claim. Experienced automobile accident injury lawyers are trained to gather many pieces of information regarding your accident and compile the narrative to prove someone is legally responsible for damages. This is a skill that distinguishes lawyers.
-Bargain with insurance companies. The majority of vehicle accident cases are settled out of court. In most cases, the insurance company representing the party with legal liability provides money to the injured party in exchange for the injured party relinquishing their right to sue. However, litigation usually ends in a settlement does not mean that getting the best deal is straightforward. Only an experienced lawyer with years of dealing with insurance adjusters can negotiate the give-and-take of a settlement negotiation to a client’s benefit. Attempts by non-lawyers to negotiate their claims with insurance companies almost usually result in them being steamrolled.
-Prepare and file a lawsuit. Yes, you can file a case for damages resulting from an automobile accident on your own (this is known as filing pro se), but it is always, (we repeat), a bad idea. It’s a fool’s errand to act as your lawyer. In or out of court, no one will take your legal claim seriously. No opposition attorney or insurance adjuster will engage in face-to-face negotiations with you.
Without a doubt, you will make basic errors that will jeopardize your claim. Even if you make it to trial, the jury will reject you as a lunatic. Allowing a lawyer to file a lawsuit on your behalf is a wise decision. It’s never a good idea to try it on your own.
-Receive the money owed to you. If your claim for damages from an automobile accident is settled or resulted in a jury award, the case isn’t finished until the money is in your bank account. Do you know how to collect an award? Lawyers are the ones who do it?
We don’t want to come out as harsh, but wounded automobile accident victims should never attempt to pursue legal claims for damages on their own. Instead, put your case in the hands of an expert automobile accident injury attorney if you want to preserve and enforce your legal rights and get the compensation you deserve.
How do you go about finding a personal injury lawyer?
Most people do not consider hiring a personal injury lawyer until they need one. However, they are confused about where to turn or what to look for in legal assistance at that point. So when it’s time to hire an attorney, keep these pointers in mind:
Do an internet search, look at review sites, contact the state bar association, or ask a friend or acquaintance for suggestions to find licensed personal injury attorneys to practice in your state and practice in your location. Visit the websites of those you come across while conducting your search. Then, when you’ve narrowed it down to a few attorneys you’d want to learn more about, set up a meeting with them.
–Many lawyers offer a free initial consultation. This is an opportunity for you to discuss the specifics of your case and ask questions about your legal alternatives and the attorney’s expertise in working on situations similar to yours. Make a list of questions to bring with you, so you don’t forget to ask the important ones. For example, you’ll want to know how many cases the attorney has settled, how many cases they have litigated, and how many cases they have worked on that are comparable to yours when you meet with them.
You’ll also want to hear the attorney’s initial comments on the case’s strengths and flaws and advice on how to continue. Requesting references from prior clients who have used the attorney’s services is permissible, and most attorneys are eager to provide this information.
–If you and the attorney agree to work together, you will most likely be given some paperwork to sign. Always read these contracts thoroughly before signing them, and only do so when you are confident that you understand them and are comfortable doing so.