Avoidable accidents happen every single day. An accident can result in severe, life-altering injuries—in just one year, car accidents caused 4.8 million medically-consulted injuries.
After an accident, you face recovering from your injuries and financial trouble. You likely feel lost and unsure of what to do next. Fortunately, an accident attorney understands your situation and knows how to help.
When presenting your case to a lawyer, you must give details regarding your accident, injuries, and losses. While your attorney will take your word for it, they’ll also rely on other sources of information, like evidence and documentation, to better understand your case and the severity of your injuries.
If you’ve sustained injuries in an accident, you might feel alone, but know that you are not. An accident lawyer will approach your case with the kindness and compassion you deserve while navigating your situation to help get you the most favorable outcome.
Types of Accidents Lawyers Handle
Accident lawyers are well equipped to handle cases arising from various types of accidents.
The most common kinds of accidents attorneys deal with include the following:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Ridesharing accidents
- Boating accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Dog bite accidents
Accident cases fall under the personal injury umbrella. Personal injury law protects individuals who suffer injuries due to another party’s negligent or intentional actions. When you file a personal injury lawsuit, you are holding the liable party accountable for their wrongdoing and seeking financial compensation for your injuries and other losses.
Additionally, accident lawyers handle cases involving accidents that lead to the victim’s death. Accidents ending in death are called wrongful death cases.
You may pursue monetary recovery if you experience an accident and suffer injuries. Consult with an accident lawyer as soon as possible after your case to discuss your situation and receive legal advice.
Finding a Qualified Accident Attorney
After receiving your initial medical treatment, you’ll want to find an accident lawyer to begin working on your case. However, finding the right one can seem daunting if you’ve never had to hire a lawyer.
Generally, you’ll want to look for an attorney with essential qualities and traits.
Your accident lawyer should:
- Have experience practicing accident and personal injury law
- Have favorable past case results
- Have positive testimonials from previous clients
- Be reasonably available and communicative
- Update you regularly regarding your case
- Have a good support staff
During your initial meeting, you should feel comfortable with your lawyer and confident in your decision to hire them to work on your case.
Once you’ve hired an attorney, they can proceed with working on your case.
How Does a Lawyer Know You Were in an Accident?
When you schedule your first meeting with your accident lawyer, you can expect them to ask many questions to understand your situation better. However, their investigation does not end there. Once hired, your attorney will gather as much information and documentation as possible as proof of your injuries.
Your lawyer may believe you were genuinely in an accident and sustained injuries, but proving it to an attorney is only part of the journey—you must also confirm your damages and losses to the insurance company and opposing party.
Questions Your Accident Attorney May Ask
The first meeting with an accident lawyer lets them get to know you and your situation.
To better understand the details of your case, they will ask various relevant questions, including:
- What kind of accident did you experience?
- When did your accident occur?
- How did the accident happen?
- Was law enforcement called to the scene? Did they create a report?
- Did you receive medical treatment? What type of treatment?
- What kinds of injuries did you sustain?
- Has the other party admitted fault?
- Did your actions contribute to the accident?
- Were there any witnesses to the accident?
Depending on your situation and the type of accident, you can expect your accident lawyer to ask these and many other questions.
Asking questions addresses many of an accident attorney’s concerns, including:
- Whether you have a valid claim
- How strong your case is
- The value of your claim
- The likelihood of a successful outcome
An experienced accident lawyer knows what to ask to answer their questions and address your most pressing concerns.
Evidence Your Accident Lawyer Will Use
Your case is only as good as the evidence available, and your accident attorney will do everything in their power to gather every piece of evidence possible to strengthen your case.
Substantial evidence can help prove you were in an accident and establish many of the critical parts of an accident case, like:
- The cause of your accident
- Liability for your accident
- The value of your case
Your accident attorney can use:
- Photos and videos
- Surveillance footage
- Police reports
- Medical records
- Witness statements
- Expert testimony
- Black box data
Accident cases require solid proof, and your accident lawyer has the skills and resources to get what they need to prove you were in an accident and suffered losses.
Proving Liability for an Accident
While proving you were in an accident is essential, an equally important component to your case is proving who caused your accident.
Many accidents and personal injury cases stem from negligence. Negligence results from a failure to act responsibly and with due care.
To prove the other party was negligent, you must establish the required elements, including:
- The party owed you a duty of care
- They breached their duty of care
- The breach was the cause of your accident
- You suffered injuries and other losses from the accident
For example, if you experienced a trucking accident and wanted to prove the truck driver was at fault, you’d have to establish their negligence.
You would need to demonstrate:
- The truck driver owed you and other drivers a duty to drive responsibly
- The driver breached their duty by engaging in distracted driving
- Their wrongful actions caused your accident
- Your accident resulted in tangible and intangible losses
Your accident lawyer can use evidence and documentation to establish that the other party caused your accident and is therefore responsible for your damages.
The Legal Process After an Accident
Once your lawyer has determined you did experience an accident and also suffered losses, they may advise you to proceed with legal action.
Your attorney tailors your legal plan to your accident, your needs, and the intended final result. Generally, you can expect your lawyer to handle the following tasks.
Pre-Lawsuit Settlement Demand
Depending on the type of accident you experience, your lawyer may reach out to the insurance company to demand a settlement before initiating a legal proceeding.
Upon gathering the necessary details and investigating your accident, your accident attorney can send the insurance company a demand letter.
The demand letter often includes:
- Information regarding your accident
- Reasoning explaining why the defendant is responsible
- Details of your injuries
- Damages you incurred and may incur in the future as a result of the accident
Your lawyer will then demand settlement for the figure included in the letter. The figure is the fair value of your case as calculated by your attorney.
If the insurance company agrees to settle, there is no need to file a lawsuit, as you will receive compensation. However, if the insurance company does not want to settle fairly or refuses to pay at all, your lawyer can proceed with initiating a lawsuit.
Filing a Lawsuit
Your accident attorney can complete the tasks necessary to initiate your court claim, including drafting and filing a petition and other required documents.
After filing the appropriate forms with the court, your lawyer can serve the opposing party. Service of process gives the other party notice of the lawsuit.
Generally, after receiving service of process, the defense has 30 days to file a response with the court. In their response, they can deny either all or specific allegations stated in the petition and raise defenses.
Once the lawsuit is underway, both parties enter the discovery phase. During this phase, both sides are allowed the opportunity to request and exchange information and gather evidence to help their argument.
During discovery, either side and their attorneys can use discovery tools, including:
- Requests for admission
- Requests for production
Once the parties have what they need, the discovery phase can conclude.
Once again, your accident attorney will attempt to settle with the defense by engaging in pre-trial settlement negotiations. Because both parties have the necessary information, the insurance company and defense feel better equipped to enter these negotiations.
Approximately 95 percent of personal injury cases end in pre-trial settlements, meaning most cases do not go to trial.
A small percentage of cases see the inside of a courtroom. If the defense is not willing to negotiate and the claim must go to trial, it’s usually because:
- The defense does not think your requested settlement is fair
- The defense thinks they can win at trial
- The defense believes that you will win less at trial than your requested settlement amount
Also, if your lawyer decides to take your case to trial, it may be because:
- Your attorney believes you have a strong chance of winning
- Your attorney feels you may get a better result at trial than you would in a pre-trial settlement
Whether your case goes to trial or not, you can trust your accident lawyer to make the right decisions for your case. They will always do everything for your best interests and work hard to get you the best possible outcome.
Time Restrictions for Accident Cases
If your lawyer needs to file a lawsuit for your accident case, the law allows a limited timeframe.
The statute of limitations for accident cases in California is two years from the date of the accident. California also allows two years to file if the accident results in death, leaving loved ones to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
An exception to the statute may exist in your case, so it is best to discuss this with your accident lawyer.
Knowing the statute of limitations is critical to your ability to recover damages for an accident. While you may still have the opportunity to file your lawsuit after the prescribed time has passed, the judge can dismiss your case entirely upon noticing the expiration of the statute of limitations.
Therefore, discuss your case with an accident attorney as soon as you can. Starting right away allows your attorney more time to make a legal plan and do what is necessary to promptly and correctly handle your case.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Handle My Accident Case?
Having an accident lawyer on your side significantly increases your chances of achieving a more favorable result for your case. If you’re unfamiliar with accident cases and how they work, you’ll have a difficult time managing your case independently.
A lawyer with extensive experience handling accident cases is familiar with the law and procedures associated with your type of case.
They can also efficiently handle the most critical parts of your case, including:
- Investigating your claim
- Gathering important details and information
- Addressing your questions and concerns
- Calculating the value of your case
- Obtaining necessary evidence and documentation
- Drafting and filing court documents
- Communicating with the defense
- Engaging in negotiations to settle your case
- Representing you in court
While the accident claim process can seem scary and confusing, your accident attorney will take over and do the heavy lifting for you, giving you peace of mind.
Consult a Qualified Accident Attorney
Time is of the essence in accident cases. Contact a skilled accident lawyer regarding your case as soon as possible.
Having an attorney on your case allows you to focus exclusively on recovering from your injuries. You can feel confident knowing your lawyer will do everything in their power to pursue the fairest possible compensation for your injuries.