A car accident lawyer provides many services in the course of an injury claim. You will need to battle an insurance company, defense lawyers, and the at-fault driver to get fair compensation. A lawyer by your side could make the difference between winning and losing.
When you get injured in a car accident in Los Angeles, you have limited options for covering your losses. Without an injury claim, you might face mountains of medical bills with no way to pay them.
How Car Insurance Works in California
California uses fault-based car insurance. Under this system, vehicle owners must have proof of financial responsibility to register their vehicles. In order to meet this requirement, most people buy liability insurance.
Liability insurance is a contract between an insurer and a policyholder. If the policyholder incurs a liability within the scope of the policy, the insurer pays it. In the case of bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage, the insurer agrees to pay for any injuries caused by the policyholder while driving the insured vehicle.
California requires car owners to buy BIL coverage in the amount of $15,000 for injuries to a single person or $30,000 for injuries to multiple people in a single accident. If the at-fault driver’s BIL coverage does not cover your losses, the at-fault driver becomes liable for the excess.
Suppose that you won a $45,000 judgment after a car accident and the at-fault driver had the minimum coverage. The insurance company would pay you $15,000, and the driver would bear liability for the remaining $30,000.
How Much You Can Get for Your Injuries
After you get injured in a car accident, you will file an insurance claim against the other driver’s BIL coverage. Your claim will include documentation of your losses, including:
You can also pursue compensation for your non-economic losses due to the effects of your injuries on your quality of life. These losses include:
- Physical pain
- Mental suffering
- Inability to participate in activities
- Reduced enjoyment of life
You prove your damages by presenting documentation about the severity and duration of your injuries.
When To Hire a Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer
Ideally, you will hire a car accident lawyer at the beginning of your case. A lawyer almost always prefers to take total control over your claim from the start. Most injury lawyers charge a contingency fee, which means you will pay the lawyer the same fee whether you hire them from the start or go to the lawyer after running into problems.
Depending on when you decide you need help, your lawyer can perform several necessary services for you, including:
Preparing and Filing Your Insurance Claim
A lawyer prepares your insurance claim by collecting the documents that prove either liability or damages.
You will prove liability by using any documents showing the at-fault driver caused the accident. The accident report and witness statements can be useful in proving liability. You will prove your damages by documenting your medical expenses and lost income.
Lawyers and their legal staff can collect the documents needed to support your claim. They will keep your file organized so that your claim gets filed with everything the insurer needs to investigate your situation.
You could perform these tasks yourself. But if you suffered a serious injury, you probably cannot take the time or expend the effort to file your own claim. Instead, you need to focus on recovering from your injuries.
Responding to Claim Denials
Insurers can deny claims for many reasons. Some denials are purely technical. An insurer can deny a claim if you forgot to include a document or filled out a form incorrectly.
An insurer can also deny claims on substantive grounds. Some reasons for denying claims include:
- The insured did not cause your accident
- The accident did not cause your injuries
- Your injuries did not justify the treatment you received
A lawyer can review claim denials and present the evidence and arguments to overcome them.
Overcoming Assertions That You Caused the Accident
The other driver’s insurer could escape liability if you caused the accident. If this assertion sticks, you lose your right to claim injury compensation. You could also become liable for the other driver’s losses.
A lawyer can investigate the cause of the accident and provide evidence and legal arguments to prove you did not cause your accident.
Negotiating a Settlement
If the insurer accepts your claim, it will offer a settlement. This offer will probably be low, and you will need to negotiate a fair amount.
At the beginning of your work together, your lawyer will evaluate your case. This evaluation will help you understand when you have received an adequate offer. It will also give you and your lawyer a target for your negotiations.
Law schools train lawyers to negotiate. Additionally, injury lawyers have experience negotiating with insurance companies. This training and experience will help your lawyer negotiate the best deal possible.
Filing a Lawsuit
If you cannot settle your case, you will need to file a lawsuit. Insurance companies have legions of insurance defense lawyers working on their behalf, so this is an instance where you will definitely need an attorney.
A lawyer can prepare the pleadings and litigate your case. If your case reaches trial, your lawyer can present your case to a jury and advocate for your preferred outcome.
Choosing a Car Accident Lawyer
If you decide to hire a car accident lawyer, you should speak to a few in order to make the best decision. Most injury lawyers provide free consultations to prospective clients. You should use your free consultations to interview lawyers about how they can help you overcome the challenges you will face during your injury claim.
To discuss how a skilled Los Angeles car accident lawyer can help you with your injury claim, contact or call M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers at (877) 300-4535.