Auto accidents are among the most common sources of serious injury in the United States. The risk of crashes and injuries is high enough, in fact, that every state legally requires drivers to carry auto insurance. California drivers must have liability coverage of at least $15,000 for the injuries/death of one person in an accident, at least $30,000 for the injuries/death of two or more people and at least $5,000 to cover property damage.
If you were hurt in a car accident, you’ll likely need medical care and money to help repair or replace a damaged vehicle. You may also need to cover additional expenses like lost wages from time spent unable to work. Assuming that the other driver was at fault for the crash, you have several options for how to pursue the compensation you need and deserve. After reading about those options in this post, it will become clear that one course of action is the obvious choice.
You can try to negotiate with insurers directly
If the at-fault driver was insured in accordance with California law, their insurance company will be financially responsible for compensating your medical costs and property damage. Ideally, the insurance company would accept this responsibility and agree to pay you a fair settlement up to policy limits. Practically, however, this rarely ever happens.
Insurance companies make a profit by denying claims or settling for as little money as possible. If you accept the insurance company’s initial settlement offer, it will almost certainly be far less than you need and far less than your claim is worth. If you try to personally negotiate a better settlement, you are unlikely to be successful. Insurers have entire legal teams devoted to protecting the company’s interests. They are not interested in negotiation unless they fear losing more money through litigation.
You can try to file a lawsuit on your own
If the insurance company refuses to offer a fair settlement or falsely claims that you were primarily or largely to blame for the crash, you have the option of filing a lawsuit on your own behalf. You could name the insurance company and the at-fault driver as defendants. Pursuing litigation without the help of an attorney is called filing pro se.
On paper, this may seem like a good idea because it saves you money on attorney fees. In practice, however, your chances of winning your case are dramatically reduced. As mentioned above, insurance companies have entire legal departments skilled in defending against legal challenges. You would be trying to litigate with virtually no legal knowledge while also trying to recover from your car accident injuries.
Even if you were to successfully recover money in the lawsuit, it could be substantially less than what a lawyer could help you obtain. This is typically true even after deducting attorney fees from your overall compensation.
You can entrust your case to an experienced injury attorney
The clear choice after a car accident is to seek the help of a skilled and experienced personal injury attorney. Here’s why:
- An attorney can talk to insurers for you as soon as they are hired, ensuring that you don’t accidentally say something that could hurt your case
- At the negotiation stage, your attorney will know what your case is worth and will advocate aggressively to maximize your settlement
- Insurance companies are typically more willing to negotiate if plaintiffs have a lawyer because the threat of litigation is more immediate
- If the insurance company doesn’t make a reasonable offer, your attorney can proceed to litigation and will personally handle all the investigation, research and paperwork required
- Personal injury attorneys in California typically work on contingency, meaning that you pay no legal fees until and unless the attorney helps you recover money in a settlement or trial
- By hiring an attorney, you can focus on medical treatment and rest while your case proceeds in skilled hands
The advantages of working with an attorney are so strong that it doesn’t make sense to take any other approach after a crash.
Reach out to our firm for highly skilled injury representation
At Woods Williford, P.C., we are ready to take the legal and practical burdens off of you and your family after a serious car accident. You can trust that our experienced attorneys will always fight for your best interests and seek to maximize your compensation. To learn more about your legal options during a free initial consultation, call us or reach out online today.