In the United States alone, there are over 6.5 million reported auto accidents each year, which equates to more than 18,000 car accidents per day. While many of these accidents may be minor fender benders, over one-third of those accidents reported an injury or fatality. After any car accident, no matter how serious, you may be curious about your options and if you should seek compensation.
Hiring a car accident attorney can help you to make sense of a stressful, potentially life-altering situation. But what exactly does a car accident lawyer do, and how do you make sense of all the results when you search for “auto accident lawyer near me?” We’ve compiled answers to all these questions and more to help you take the best path forward.
What Does a Car Accident Lawyer Do?
If you’ve been in an auto accident where you were not at fault, you may be wondering what a car accident lawyer actually does. At a high level, an auto accident attorney works with people who were in car accidents to build a case to get money following their crash, which may be needed for things like medical bills, vehicle repair or replacement, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
However, the responsibilities and details of what a car accident lawyer does varies based upon the complexity of the case they are working. Typically, car accident lawyers handle the following:
Help You Understand Your Rights
One of the first things a car accident lawyer does is help you understand your rights. The fact is, most people are not knowledgeable when it comes to auto accident laws, so a good attorney will walk through all the relevant laws that pertain to you and your case. They’ll listen to your story, explain your rights, and inform you of the options you have to file a claim to get money. This is a complex process, which is why many auto accident lawyers offer free consultations to help you understand your path forward. If you’d like to have a free consultation with one of Broadwing Legal’s auto accident lawyers in Indianapolis, reach out to us today. Our specialists are available anytime, day or night, to start the consultation process.
Communicate with Necessary Parties
In a car accident case, there are a lot of parties to communicate with. Auto accident lawyers are by your side and can completely manage discussions with the other party’s insurance company. Additionally, they can guide you through the process of communicating with your own insurance company or communicating with any healthcare providers to expedite the process of collecting medical records and bills.
Gather and Organize Evidence
In a car accident case, you and your lawyer are responsible for demonstrating the other driver’s fault and that you suffered damages as a result of the accident. To prove these things, you need evidence. A car accident attorney can help you gather the following kinds of documents:
- Medical records, information, and bills
- Proof of damages
- Pictures or videos of the scene of the accident
- Copies of accident reports
- Witness statements
- Documents for lost wages like pay stubs, schedule, or doctor’s note
Negotiate a Settlement
Negotiating a settlement is the final step in most auto accident cases. A car accident attorney is tasked with building a strong case and fighting for your legal rights. They do this by gathering and presenting all the evidence collected, filing a personal injury claim, and negotiating a fair settlement with the other party’s insurance company. They may also negotiate with lien holders to potentially reduce the dollar amount of those liens. In the event that a settlement cannot be reached, they can file a lawsuit and represent you in court.
Represent You in Court
Fortunately, most auto accident cases settle before going to court. However, there are instances where the parties involved simply cannot come to an agreement. When this is the case, a trial may be necessary. A car accident attorney will be by your side through the entire process of the trial. When this happens, it is important to have a lawyer at your side who is experienced and who will fight for your rights in court.
Is it Worth Getting a Lawyer for a Car Accident?
In many cases, it is worth the time and investment to seek out a car accident attorney. Car accident lawyers are skilled in communicating with insurance companies, filing and negotiating claims, and helping you understand the very complex processes involved with seeking compensation. However, what are the scenarios when it does and doesn’t make sense to seek legal assistance? We’ve compiled answers to a few common questions about this topic.
When Should I Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
Here are some of the most common situations where it may make sense to seek legal assistance following an auto accident.
- Injury: According to the National Law Review, the most common injuries following an auto accident include bruising, whiplash, neck and back injuries, concussions, traumatic brain injuries, post-traumatic stress disorder, broken bones, and internal bleeding. How long after a car accident can an injury show up? While a lot of injuries are clearly visible immediately, some hidden injuries can take days or weeks to appear, which is why seeking medical attention following any car accident is so important.
- Costly medical bills: Bills associated with car accidents can be steep. Over $23 billion a year is spent on injuries associated with non-fatal car accidents in the United States alone, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A car accident attorney can help you recoup these costs.
- Lost wages: In serious accidents, you may require time off from work to recover. In the worst case scenarios, loss of employment is possible as well. In either case, seeking compensation is well within your rights.
- Death: In 2019, there were 800 fatalities as a result of car accidents, according to the Indiana University Public Policy Institute. If these fatalities were the result of negligence on the part of the other party, an auto accident attorney can help you seek compensation for costs associated with end-of-life expenses, trauma, and therapy.
- Property damage: In most car accidents, property damage occurs—and it can be quite expensive. Even in the event of an accident with no injuries, you may want to seek legal assistance if the property damage was extensive or you’re having issues with the other party’s insurance. Most people know that property damage includes your vehicle, but you can also include other items in a vehicle like a laptop, cell phone, or tablet.
- Location of accident: When an accident occurs in an area like a construction zone, for example, it may be possible that the construction company or the government could be found negligent.
- Disputes over fault: Fault is tricky, especially in a modified comparative fault state like Indiana. If the police report says you are at fault, then you may think you are not able to seek any money at all. However, an auto accident lawyer may be able to find instances of negligence or environmental issues that were not accounted for in the original report.
- Issues with insurance company: If you’re having any issues with navigating communication with the other party’s insurance company, an attorney can assist with these discussions and your overall case.
This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but rather as a place for you to start considering whether or not an attorney is necessary. If any of the above apply to you, it is worth it to seek out a consultation from an auto accident lawyer who can help.
When Do I Not Need an Auto Accident Lawyer?
There are a few instances where it simply doesn’t make sense to seek out legal assistance. Of course, individual cases vary, so if you feel at all concerned that you may need an attorney, you can have a free consultation to get your case reviewed. Here are some examples of times when you may not need an attorney.
- There were no injuries. If you did not sustain any injuries from your auto accident, you may not need the services of an attorney. However, before deciding on this, it is important to see medical attention following an accident to rule out potential medical injuries or complications. In the event of no injuries, insurance companies can typically handle payouts for property damage without the need for legal assistance.
- The numbers don’t add up. There are times where it simply doesn’t make good financial sense to hire an attorney. If there were no injuries and the vehicle’s Bluebook value is low, compensation is likely to be low. While you are certainly well within your rights to seek compensation, even in this circumstance, the legal fees associated with an attorney may outweigh the benefits.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for a Minor Car Accident?
When it comes to whether or not you should hire a lawyer after a minor accident, it depends upon the situation. Car accidents can be complex, with several factors at play. What may be categorized as a minor accident may still cause long-term injuries, issues with insurance companies, or other issues. Review the lists above to see if any of the situations match yours. And, when it doubt, seek out a free consultation
What Is the Normal Settlement for a Car Accident?
While there may be average dollar amounts, the truth is that there is no “normal” settlement for a car accident, because the settlement amount varies based on each case’s unique situation. When considering a settlement amount, it is important to take the following considerations into account:
- How severe the injuries are. The amount of a settlement can vary based on the severity of the injuries, the type of medical care that was needed (such as in-home care, physical therapy, or hospital stays), and more.
- How steep the financial losses are. A settlement offer partially depends upon the amount of lost wages, medical bills, auto repair bills, and more.
- What the state laws are. Each state has its own laws for auto accidents. Indiana is a modified comparative fault state. If reports conclude that you are more at fault, you can seek compensation only up to the amount of your own fault.
- The other driver’s negligence. If the other driver is found to be negligent due to distracted or drunk driving, you may be able to seek a higher settlement.
- Insurance policies and their limits. Insurance policies have caps on the amount it will pay toward a claim, and these may limit the settlement offer you receive. This is further complicated by the fact that, in some accidents, you may be dealing with another party who is unisured or underinsured. If that’s the case, you may need to seek money from your own policy. A car accident lawyer understands the ins and outs of auto insurance and can help you make sense of this process.
How Do I Choose an Attorney for My Car Accident?
If you’re searching online for “auto accident lawyer near me,” you may be wondering what kinds of qualities you should look for when deciding who to work with. We’ve laid out a list of what to look for to help you select the best car accident attorney for your case.
Do They Specialize in Car Accidents?
Lawyers and firms specialize in specific types of cases. When seeking an auto accident lawyer, it is important to find a firm that specializes in things like car accidents, truck accidents, personal injury, or wrongful death.
Have They Handled Similar Cases?
It’s true that no two cases are alike, but it’s important to find a lawyer who has experience handling cases similar to yours. During your initial call, ask about how they’d handle your case and what kinds of strategies or tactics they’d recommend.
Do You Feel Comfortable With Them?
It is important to feel comfortable with your lawyer and have a good professional relationship. Ensure the attorney you chose makes you feel at ease, understands your story, and can explain all the components of your case in a way you understand.
Do You Understand the Proposed Fee Agreements?
Fortunately, attorneys are required by law to disclose the extent of their fees, so there should not be any surprises when it comes to car accident lawyer fees. Most auto accident lawyers work on a contingency fee, which means they will take a certain percentage of the amount that is won in a settlement or case—typically around 25-40%. At Broadwing Legal, our flat fee is 32%. You should also keep in mind that there are other expenses, like expert witnesses or depositions, that may need to be accounted for. While some lawyers will charge you for these expenses even if you do not receive a settlement, at Broadwing Legal you only pay if you receive a settlement.
Broadwing Legal: An Auto Accident Lawyer You Can Trust
If you’re looking for a trusted auto accident lawyer in Indianapolis, look no further than Broadwing Legal. With expertise in auto accidents, personal injury, and trucking accidents, our team of lawyers are dedicated to representing you and your case. With compassion and care, our attorneys will listen to your case, share their opinions, and empower you to make the best decisions possible. If you’ve been in an auto accident and would like to learn more about our services and how we can help you, give us a call for a free consultation today.