When someone injures you in a car accident due to their negligence while driving, you have rights to consider. After all, you don’t want to end up paying for an accident you didn’t cause. Essentially you have two choices – settle with the insurance company out of court or take them to court and force them to pay for your damages. Either way, it can be a long road, filled with pitfalls and traps that can seriously impact the amount of money you ultimately receive. It’s important to know when to call in an expert to help you obtain compensation. Here, we’ve assembled 9 of the most frequently asked questions regarding hiring a Sacramento car accident lawyer after you’ve been the victim of a car accident.
In the state of California (and in fact, in most states), you must file your lawsuit within the two years following the date the accident occurred. If you do not file suit within that time, you forfeit your right to a lawsuit entirely.
There are a vast number of rules and procedures that must be followed when filing a lawsuit. An experienced California personal injury attorney will be familiar with the procedures and laws that govern filing suit against the defendant. They’ll also tell you what to avoid doing so that you do not endanger your right to sue.
After an accident, you’ll be relying on the insurance company for compensation for your property damages and your injuries. While the insurance company is required to protect those that purchase policies, they are also in the business of making money. What you’re thinking you should receive as compensation, and what they think you should receive are very likely two totally different figures. When you hire a qualified attorney, you don’t have to negotiate with the insurance companies at all - the attorney will advocate for you, on your behalf, saving you time, energy, and stress.
There are a wide array of damages that are available to anyone injured in a car crash. Of course, you’ll be eligible for compensation for medical bills including your ER visit and ambulance transport, if any, but you may also be eligible for compensation due to lost wages due to recovery, future lost wages, emotional stress, and/or pain and suffering. If you are unable to be a companion to your loved ones, in the same manner, you were before your accident, you may be eligible to receive those damages as well. But unless you have an attorney on your side, you won’t know what potential damages you are entitled to.
Being able to prove liability in an accident is of utmost importance if you are to recover damages. But it’s a complex process. Even if there were witnesses present stating that the other driver was at fault, and the police report from the accident agrees, it can still be difficult. An attorney who deals with proving negligence as part of their job will understand the law and be able to research similar cases that will support your position. Dealing with the collection of evidence isn’t something that anyone other than a qualified attorney should attempt.
Most car accident claims do settle out of court. It’s likely that the other driver’s insurance company will make you an offer of settlement. It’s also likely that the offer will be much lower than the financial losses you’ve suffered due to the accident. Here is where an attorney can really help you, by evaluating the offer with you to decide if it is in your best interest to accept the offer. If you do accept the offer, you will forfeit your right to sue the defendant, so you need to be 100% sure it’s the right decision.
In a word, no. Filing a lawsuit isn’t as easy as it looks on TV. There are very specific procedures to follow, and rules on everything from the size of the font on your legal brief to deciding what evidence you can submit to the court. Filing a lawsuit is a very complicated process that, if not followed exactly, will get your case thrown out. And you will not receive any special treatment simply because you are representing yourself. You will be treated exactly the same as an experienced, knowledgeable attorney. Therefore, it’s best to have an attorney file the suit on your behalf while representing you.
Legally representing yourself in front of a judge is a harrowing experience best left to a licensed attorney. Just as there are specific procedures and policies regarding filing your lawsuit, there are even more restrictive rules regarding what you are allowed to say and ask, what witnesses you can call, what evidence you can present, even the phrasing of the questions you will ask in front of the courtroom. You will need to provide extensive legal research to prove your innocence and the defendant’s guilt and convince a jury to decide in your favor.
The worst-case scenario is you decide to deal with the insurance company yourself and they completely reject your claim. This will leave you with zero compensation with which to pay for medical bills, repair or replace your vehicle, and pay for lost wages. If you decide not to settle out of court, it is highly unlikely that you would win a court case and be able to adequately convince a judge or jury that you were not at fault and that the defendant was at fault. The best thing that you can do to secure your future and that of your family is to hire a qualified, experienced California personal injury attorney.