Many people choose to hire a car accident lawyer after getting into an auto accident. A car accident lawyer is trained to negotiate settlements and get their clients paid for their injuries. It’s helpful to have an expert on your side to guide you through a legal case.
However, strictly speaking, you don’t need to hire an attorney. You can still get a settlement without hiring a lawyer. Unfortunately, the settlement is likely to be less than you deserve, and it might be harder for you to fight for it.
How To Settle an Insurance Claim Without a Lawyer
If you are planning to settle an insurance claim without a lawyer, you should follow these steps to make sure you have the best outcome possible. You should never trust that the insurance company, either yours or the at-fault drivers, is on your side. The truth is they are motivated to get out of paying and to make it difficult for you to recover money.
Investigating The Accident
Car accidents happen very quickly. When you are involved in a crash, it can be difficult to remember exactly how it happened. Plus, if you are in your vehicle focusing on the road, you might not know what the other driver was doing (or not doing) that contributed to your accident.
After a crash, you will want to investigate the accident. This investigation may include:
- Taking photographs of both vehicles in the proper light
- Taking photographs of the road conditions from all angles
- Talking with the other driver while not admitting fault or giving your statement
- Getting insurance and license information from the other driver
- Locating any witnesses who may have observed the accident and getting contact information
- Calling the police to write an official report and take your statement
- Seeking immediate medical treatment to get a diagnosis for your injuries
All of this evidence will be helpful when negotiating with insurance companies and asking for a settlement.
Negotiating With Insurance Companies
California is an at-fault state. That means you will file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. This involves giving your statement to an insurance adjuster. You can also produce the evidence that supports your case. Additionally, you will inform the insurance adjuster about your damages (like car repairs, medical bills, and lost wages).
The insurance company will conduct an independent investigation into the cause of the accident. If they determine that you are not at fault, they will offer you a settlement. The settlement offer is usually less than what you are asking for. Insurance companies do this because they want to get out of paying the full amount.
You can reject lowball offers and request the full amount. If the insurance company agrees, then you accept the settlement and sign away your rights to file a personal injury lawsuit or ask for more money. If you cannot agree with the insurance company, then you will need to file a personal injury lawsuit.
When you are speaking with the insurance company, you must avoid making statements suggesting you are at fault for the accident. This includes apologizing. Insurance companies are always looking for ways to blame you entirely for the accident.
California follows a pure comparative fault law. That means that if you are found to be at fault for an accident, you can still recover damages. This is true even if you are 99% responsible. However, the damages are reduced by the percentage that you are responsible for the accident. If you are 99% responsible, you can only recover 1% of your damages.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit if Necessary
If you don’t get a fair settlement offer from the insurance company, or they won’t agree to pay for your damages, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit. This can be difficult without a lawyer. You can take a look at the LA Courts website to get information on how and where to file the lawsuit.
Set Up a Free Consultation With a Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer
While you can technically settle your claim without hiring an attorney, that course of action might not be in your best interest. Since most car accident lawyers in LA offer free consultations, it is likely worth your time to reach out and determine whether you need their assistance. Attorneys in this area of the law work on contingency, so they can only take on your case if it also makes sense for them.
Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in Los Angeles, CA
If you were injured in an accident in Los Angeles, CA or you lost a loved one and you need legal assistance, please contact us to schedule a free consultation. One of our Los Angeles car accident lawyers at M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers will get in touch with you soon.