According to the California Highway Patrol, nearly 270,000 people were injured in California car accidents in a single year. If you’re suffering from injuries and financial strain as a result of a car accident, consulting with an auto accident lawyer could be greatly beneficial.
Many victims believe they can navigate the claims process without hiring an auto accident lawyer. However, working with an attorney serves many benefits. Here are seven ways that an auto accident lawyer can help car accident victims.
1. Evaluate a Case to Determine the Win Probability
In order to file a personal injury claim, you must demonstrate that you have legal standing. On a very basic level, this means that you must be the injured party. However, it also means that you must have a substantial reason to file the claim, like suffering serious injuries or debt due to medical bills.
By consulting an experienced auto accident lawyer before filing your claim, you can determine how strong your case really is and if your case is worth pursuing. This early legal advice is crucial because it can prevent victims from spending time and money pursuing a claim that will not have much, if any, reward.
2. Compile Supporting Evidence
If an auto accident lawyer agrees that you have a strong case and you choose to hire them, the next step will be building a winning case. Therefore, evidence will need to be collected and preserved.
The evidence to support your claim will include everything from the police report taken at the scene of the accident to medical records and pay stubs documenting a loss of income. Your lawyer will guide you through this process, advising you on what documents to keep on hand for the discovery phase of your claim.
3. Prove Negligence
In order to put together a personal injury claim, you will need to prove that the other party exhibited negligent behavior. Then, there must be a direct correlation between those negligent actions and the damages you are seeking.
There are four elements of negligence that you will need to establish to file a successful claim. These elements include:
- Duty of care: the at-fault driver had an obligation to follow the rules of the road to keep themselves and other drivers safe
- Breach of duty of care: the at-fault driver failed to meet these obligations (i.e. by texting while driving or running a red light)
- Damages: the resulting accident has left you with injuries and financial strain (i.e. significant medical debt)
- Causation: you would not have sustained these damages if not for the at-fault driver’s actions or inactions
All four of these elements must be indicated in order to file a car accident claim to yield success. This can grow to be very complicated and requires a thorough investigation of the accident, as well as the legal experience to obtain the evidence and prove damages.
4. Establish Damages Owed
Damages refer to the financial compensation you wish to recuperate from the defendant. when it comes to financial reward, damages are broken down into two forms.
- Present and future medical bills
- Present and future lost income due to a reduced capacity to work
- Additional property damage (i.e. car maintenance bills)
- Mental and emotional distress
- Reduced quality of life
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
Non-economic damages are inherently more difficult to quantify than economic damages, as you can’t produce bills to prove their value. However, an experienced lawyer can come up with a fair and reasonable figure, based on similar cases.
5. File the Claim in Accordance with Legal Regulations
In order to open a personal injury lawsuit against the defendant, you will need to file a complaint, which is the official document detailing the circumstances and results of the accident.
Then, you must file this complaint with the civil courthouse in the county where the accident occurred or where or where both parties live and work. The complaint must outline both the reasons that you are filing the claim and the damages you are demanding.
Additionally, you have two years from the time of the accident to file the complaint. This is based on the statute of limitations laws in California. Once the complaint is written and filed, you will have 60 days to serve a summons to the defendant. A summons is a document informing the defendant that they are being sued.
Your lawyer will handle all of the paperwork and secure a server (a professional who delivers court documents) or another viable party to serve the summons.
6. Monitor Communication
Once the defendant is aware of the claim, you will enter into the discovery phase. During the discovery phase, both parties will present any evidence they deem relevant to the case. At times, the defense team may make requests for more evidence or wish to discuss specific pieces of evidence with the plaintiff.
The defense team is the at-fault driver’s insurance company and its attorneys, whose only goal is to reduce the settlement as much as possible. They may, for example, request your full medical history in order to detect pre-existing conditions that could call into question the cause of your current injuries.
An experienced lawyer will monitor all communication with the defense and spot these kinds of tactics. They will advise you on how to respond and what documents to provide so that you don’t inadvertently hurt your case.
7. Negotiate for Maximum Compensation
Only 3% of personal injury claims go to trial, which means that the vast majority are settled out of court. In order to reach a settlement, both the plaintiff and the defendant must agree upon the amount of money the insurance company owes.
The legal team of the insurance company knows that car accident victims are facing financial, physical, and emotional distress, and they often try to encourage a low settlement in exchange for a quick resolution.
Without the help of an experienced lawyer, victims often fall into this trap. Or, alternatively, they continue to fight for a higher settlement long after it’s clear that it isn’t on the table. By hiring an attorney, you can leave the settlement process in experienced hands and settle when the time and price are right.
8. Provides Time to Heal
Research shows that prolonged stress can have severe impacts on the body. Not only can this slow your body’s natural ability to heal from injuries, but it can also increase inflammation, muscle tension, and more, which can lead to new or worsening health conditions.
Hiring a lawyer will give you the time and peace you need to prioritize your recovery, rather than having to focus your energy on putting together a personal injury claim.
Knowing that an expert is handling your case and increasing your chances of securing a reasonable settlement can lower stress levels. This, in turn, can give you more time and space to heal.
Hire the Best Auto Accident Lawyer in Huntington Beach
If you were injured in a car accident in Huntington Beach, it’s time to hire the best auto accident lawyer in town. Coast Car Accident Lawyers are proud to represent Huntington Beach accident victims and fight for the best compensation possible.
To get started, contact us and request a free case evaluation. We look forward to helping you navigate this next chapter and fight for justice.