What Can a Lawyer Do for You After a Car Accident?

December 28, 2023 | By DJC Law Attorneys
What Can a Lawyer Do for You After a Car Accident?

A lawyer can handle a wide range of responsibilities after a car accident. They will try to secure a financial settlement or verdict covering all your accident-related damages. To achieve this goal, a lawyer must generally calculate damages, gather evidence of negligence, and succeed in settlement negotiations.

If your attorney does not secure a fair settlement from liable parties, they should take the case to trial. Going to trial requires time, significant effort, and money. Your car accident attorney will shoulder these responsibilities while you focus on recovery.

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Primary Responsibilities a Car Accident Lawyer Will Handle for You​

Your car accident lawyer will handle every duty required to complete your case, which will likely include:

  • Dealing with insurers: Insurance companies can threaten your complete financial recovery. When you hire a car accident lawyer, they handle all dealings with insurance companies. This will protect your rights and free you to focus on recovery.
  • Determining the cause of the car accident: Your attorney will gather the facts about your accident, determining who you can hold responsible for the collision. This process will help your lawyer establish liability for your accident-related damages.
  • Securing evidence of negligence: Your car accident lawyer will seek evidence showing that someone’s negligence caused your accident. Examples of such evidence include Eyewitness testimony about a motorist speeding or video footage showing a rear-end accident.
  • Documenting your damages: Your lawyer will identify how your car accident has affected you. They will obtain medical records, invoices for vehicle repairs, and all other proof of your accident-related damages.
  • Calculating a settlement value: Lawyers know how to calculate damages, including those that don’t have an obvious cost. Your attorney will account for current, future, economic, and non-economic damages as they calculate a fair settlement value.
  • Negotiating a fair settlement: Car accident lawyers most often negotiate settlements for their clients, rendering a trial unnecessary. However, settlement talks can vary in their degree of difficulty. Liable parties must agree to pay you fairly, or else your lawyer may have no choice but to go to trial.
  • Going to trial, if need be: One benefit of hiring a lawyer is that they can take your case to court if necessary. Law firms have the experience and resources to complete a trial, so your attorney may negotiate a settlement from a position of strength.​
  • Your attorney will oversee every other detail of your case: From fact-checking to arranging negotiations, making legal appearances, and completing all paperwork, your attorney will handle your case from start to finish.

Who Should Hire a Lawyer After a Car Accident?​

Everyone should consult an attorney following a collision.

People who generally wind up hiring car accident lawyers include:

  • Those who suffer injuries during a traffic accident
  • Those whose loved one suffers a debilitating injury (like a severe spinal cord or brain injury) and cannot retain a lawyer for themselves
  • Those whose loved one passes away from injuries suffered during a car accident​

If you or a loved one suffered an injury (including a fatal injury), hire a car accident lawyer.

What Are the Primary Perks of Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer?​

There is no single reason why car accident victims hire lawyers.

Some common reasons include:

  • Their injuries and psychological stress (and need to recover): Those who experience a car accident often need time to decompress and recover. This means they may not be in a state to handle the stress of an insurance claim or lawsuit.
  • Their inexperience handling lawsuits and insurance claims: The typical car accident victim may also lack experience leading insurance claims or lawsuits. Most traffic accident survivors are not lawyers. Therefore, they may turn to a lawyer who knows the ins and outs of claims and lawsuits well.
  • A lawyer’s extensive experience leading car accident cases: There is no substitute for experience leading insurance claims and lawsuits. A lawyer who has handled many such cases can anticipate the challenges your case may bring and overcome them.
  • A law firm’s total financial support: Car accident lawyers cover the cost of their clients’ cases. Accident victims under great financial strain need this financial support. ​

Many clients decide that a car accident lawyer is better suited to win their case. A lawyer places you in the best position for your case’s success.

What Should a Financial Settlement From a Car Accident Case Cover?​

What Should a Financial Settlement From a Car Accident Case Cover

Car accidents that cause severe injuries can cost hundreds of thousands in economic damages alone, on average. Whether your case involves a fatal or non-fatal accident, your damages can be far more expensive than average.

Your lawyer will create a detailed record of your damages and fight for coverage of each. Those damages may include:

Healthcare Expenses​

Medical bills are a unifying theme among car accident victims. Your attorney will calculate the cost of all your accident-related medical care, from ambulance transport through your last day of rehabilitation.

Each auto accident victim has different healthcare needs, and your attorney will consult your doctors to determine the cost of your care.

Disabling injuries can be especially costly. For instance, a spinal cord injury can cost more than $1 million in care expenses in the first year alone.

Someone with a disabling injury may need:

  • Around-the-clock care
  • A wheelchair or other assistive medical equipment
  • Handrails, ramps, lifts, and other home updates
  • A vehicle that accommodates a wheelchair
  • Rest-of-life medical care
  • Replacement income through retirement age​

Your attorney will work with medical experts to identify the individual and total cost of disability-related damages.

Pain and Suffering​

Auto accidents come with non-economic costs, and pain and suffering are the most common.

This category of damage can include:

  • Injury-related pain
  • Psychological distress
  • Emotional anguish
  • Diagnosed conditions like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Loss of physical abilities
  • Loss of cognitive abilities
  • Change in mood or personality
  • Lost quality of life
  • Sleep problems​

Mental health experts can diagnose, treat, and value your pain and suffering. These damages do not have an obvious financial cost, but a lawyer will use an accepted method to calculate their value.

Professional Harm​

When accident-related injuries interfere with a victim’s ability to work, resulting damages can include:

  • Lost income
  • Lost bonuses
  • Lost promotions
  • Diminished earning power
  • Lost fulfillment from your job
  • Lost benefits​

If your injuries prevent you from working well into the future, your lawyer will project the value of future professional damages. If you are disabled, your attorney will project the damages through retirement age.

Your settlement target will include the cost of repairing or replacing:

  • Your vehicle
  • Clothing
  • Accessories
  • Cell phones
  • Media components in your vehicle
  • Any other property damaged during the accident​

While property damage may not be your most pressing concern, your lawyer will factor it into your settlement.

A Wrongful Death​

Tens of thousands of people in America die each year from injuries suffered during motor vehicle accidents. If your loved one lost their life because of a car accident, an attorney can lead a wrongful death lawsuit on your behalf.

Losing a loved one has intense and long-ranging consequences, including the loss of:

  • The decedent’s income and other forms of financial support
  • The decedent’s contribution to their household, which may include help with chores, handiwork, financial services, and home security
  • A partner’s intimacy and support (for a spouse)
  • A parent’s guidance and support (for a child)​

Of course, you also grieve and experience other forms of pain and suffering when a loved one suddenly passes away. Your lawyer will worry about these details so you can work through your loss.

What Happens if I Don’t Hire a Car Accident Lawyer​?

If you choose not to hire a car accident lawyer, your case will move forward with you (presumably) leading the charge. This will mean that:

You Deal Directly With Insurance Companies​

Insurance companies are not necessarily working in your favor after a car accident. Yet, you will have to deal with insurers directly if you do not have a lawyer.

This may mean:

  • Making direct statements that can work against your case
  • Having to negotiate with insurance companies for a fair settlement
  • Facing lowball settlement offers (and pressure to accept them)
  • Having to engage in a drawn-out back-and-forth with one or more insurers​

Insurance representatives, including the company’s lawyers, will likely have extensive experience handling claims. They will outmatch you if you do not hire a lawyer.

You Will Need to Invest Time and Effort Into Your Case​

Winning car accident claims and lawsuits require time and effort. Lawyers generally require their clients to prioritize their health. However, your health may fall by the wayside if you try to handle your case.

You Must Negotiate Your Settlement​

If you are without a car accident attorney, you must serve as your own negotiator.

You may find it difficult to:

  • Account for all of your accident-related damages
  • Determine the accurate value of your damages (especially pain and suffering, which likely has an unclear value)
  • Negotiate against insurance companies’ seasoned negotiators
  • Push back against claims that you deserve less money than you are demanding​

Liable parties may also refuse to believe you will file a lawsuit without a lawyer. This may cost you leverage during negotiations, as you may need a credible threat of taking your case to court.

You May Risk Your Health and Recovery​

The time you spend on your case is when you are not resting and recovering. Because our time is finite, you may have to decide between your health and the strength of your case.

When you hire a car accident lawyer, the share of responsibilities is clear:

  • You focus on your physical and psychological recovery
  • Your car accident attorney focuses on securing the compensation you deserve​

Let a car accident lawyer do what they do best, and let them do it for you.

You May Lose​

Considering all the challenges of leading your own case, you must consider that you can fail to prepare a winning case. Even after investing your time, energy, and money, you may not get the financial recovery you seek.

Hiring a car accident lawyer does not guarantee a positive outcome for your case. However, common sense may tell you that having an attorney lead your case can lead to the outcome you are aiming for. They have the time, resources, and experience that car accident victims often seek in a legal counselor.

Can I Afford a Car Accident Lawyer’s Fees?​

Yes, you can afford a car accident lawyer. Most car accident attorneys use contingency fees, which allow them to cast a wide net when attracting potential clients.

A contingency fee means:

  • You don’t pay the law firm any upfront fee
  • The law firm pays to complete your case
  • If the law firm wins, it receives a portion of your recovery
  • If the law firm does not succeed, it does not receive a fee​

This arrangement places all the financial pressure on the law firm, which has an immense financial incentive to secure compensation for you.

Hire a Car Accident Lawyer as Soon as Possible​

Dan Christensen, Austin Car Accident Lawyer
Dan Christensen, Car Accident Lawyer in Austin

Your attorney will likely face a deadline for filing your case, so do not wait to research firms that may be suitable to handle your insurance claim or lawsuit. Call them as soon as you can for your free consultation.

A skilled Austin personal injury lawyer can assess your best legal options and advise you what to expect from the process.