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Do You Need a Lawyer for a Car Accident Settlement?

After being in an accident, you may be tempted to settle right away in order to move on with your life. The thought of prolonging the terrible experience may seem overwhelming, and it seems easier to forget about the incident. Sometimes, people who are the victims of an accident are offered a private settlement by the other party, and that may sound easy and non-confrontational. Because of the complexities of a personal injury claim, there are some big advantages to hiring an attorney to get the best accident settlement.  Before or just after calling an attorney, it is in your best interest to take some time and become educated about the process.

Determination of fault

In some accidents, it’s quite obvious who’s at fault. If someone hits your bumper while you’re stopped at a red light, both you and the other driver will likely agree that the other driver caused the accident and is responsible for the repairs to your vehicle. When it’s not so obvious, things become more difficult.  For example, there may be a third party that caused the accident. In these cases, the parties will have to reach a settlement, or otherwise fault will need to be determined by a jury or jury. These are the types of situations an attorney is needed to help you evaluate your claim and decide the best course of action.  

Determination of Damages

Like determining fault, some damages are quite obvious, such as a dent in your bumper or a scratch on your hand. Unfortunately, not all damages are that obvious. For example, if you are rear-ended while at a stoplight, it’s possible that you won’t feel the pain in your neck until days or weeks after the accident.  Therefore, while a quick settlement offer from the insurance may be tempting, settling too early will prevent demanding compensation for injuries discovered after the settlement. A skillful and experienced attorney understands the process and will help you understand these issues.   

Calculating Damages

The damages recoverable may include medical costs charged by various medical providers, past and future lost income, lost earning capacity, pain and suffering from the injuries, and loss of enjoyment of life.  Calculating these damages varies greatly from case-to-case, depending on the severity of the injuries, whether there are pre-existing injuries, and whether the medical care you received is reasonable and necessary.  This area alone makes hiring an attorney advantageous.  

Property damage can be calculated in different ways. For example, cosmetic damage to a car is straightforward and apparent. These types of damages are not usually a problem because everyone can see the problem and what needs to be fixed. There are some damages, however, that lead to “diminished value,” which is an additional reimbursement for the amount of value lost on your car due to the accident, even after the repairs have been done. An example of this would be a car with a badly damaged frame. While it can be fixed and can operate, the vehicle will lose a great deal of its value when the owner tries to trade it in. Only a qualified attorney understands how to proceed with a fair claim in instances such as these.

So, Do You Need a Lawyer?

If you are in an accident and there is any type of loss that is not clearly obvious or there is even a remote possibility that there could be further damages or injuries, do not settle without consulting an attorney. You need the experience and knowledge of a lawyer to represent you, ask the right questions, and navigate the obstacles placed by the insurance company. The last thing you want after getting injured is the regret of settling too early or settling for an amount that does not fully provide compensation for your injuries.   

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