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Can You Represent Yourself in a Car Accident Case?

No matter what kind of driver you consider yourself to be, you cannot control everyone else’s actions behind the wheel. If you get into a minor accident, you could drown in unexpected costs. Professionals report that a car accident with a non-fatal disabling injury costs roughly $78,900. Even with insurance, you could run into trouble covering all resulting costs. To receive fair compensation, should you represent yourself in a car accident case?

Considerations Before Tackling Your Car Accident Case

While you do not always need legal representation after a car accident, you deserve to know the most essential factors affecting your decision. You must first consider how much time and effort goes into representing yourself. Legal professionals note that it usually takes months to settle a clear-cut car accident case. Cases that require lawsuits or the threat of a suit to move forward may take years. Do you have months or years to devote to your claim?

You must also consider whether you have the time and mental reserves to learn how personal injury cases work. According to Nolo, you may learn enough about car accident settlements in about six to eight hours to represent yourself. Are you thinking about taking the matter to small claims court or mediation? If so, add roughly three to five more hours of work. Your case could go to a traditional court, which involves a steeper learning curve. Note that these are time estimates for preparing your case. They do not include putting what you learned into action on your claim.

If the at-fault driver’s insurance provider takes full responsibility for the accident, you may not need legal representation. Even then, you must still gather viable evidence of the harm you suffered, which means medical bills, car repair bills and lost wages. You must also negotiate with the insurance company for a fair settlement.

Reasons To Reconsider Handling Your Car Accident Case

Maybe one of the main reasons you want to handle your own personal injury case is to eliminate attorney fees. While understandable, you must think about what you risk losing by sidestepping the cost of legal representation. Here are several reasons to think twice before taking legal matters into your own hands.

Missing Deadlines

You must make sure you file your case within the statute of limitations, usually two years from the accident. It may take time for you to connect injuries to the accident, or you may not realize the extent of what seemed like a minor injury until months later. If you miss the deadline, you may never have the chance to seek fair compensation from the at-fault party.

Lack of Knowledge About Evidence

Do you know all the evidence you must gather to build your legal case? For personal injuries, the evidence you need depends on the harm you suffered. Sometimes, gathering paperwork that shows you sustained an injury may not suffice to establish fault.

Determining Damages

Before receiving full compensation for your car accident, you must know what damages apply to your case. While you may have doctor bills, receipts for pain medication and car repair bills, you could qualify for non-monetary damages. If you suffered mental anguish because of your injuries, you may qualify for pain and suffering compensation. Experienced legal professionals have the training and background to calculate all your damages.

Settlement Negotiation

Most car accident cases settle before going to court. Even if insurance providers settle, that does not mean they offer a fair settlement. Legal representatives know the tricks and tactics insurance companies use to take advantage of unknowing accident victims. By agreeing to the first settlement negotiation offer, you could hurt yourself and your financial health more than you realize.

How Legal Representatives Help With Your Car Accident Case

While you may realize legal representatives have training, experience and resources you lack, you may not fully understand the many ways they help with personal injury cases. Think about these points while deciding whether to represent yourself.

Talking With the Other Driver’s Insurance Provider

Not only do insurance companies usually not pay fair settlement amounts, but they also take steps to undermine claims. Sometimes, they weaponize a car accident victim’s words. Rather than risk saying the wrong thing, your attorney can communicate with the adjuster and other insurance company representatives for you.

Gathering Evidence That Establishes Fault

While it’s a good idea to take images at the scene of the accident, your attorney may want to revisit the scene. It’s one thing to look at images of the accident scene, but physically visiting the scene could uncover more proof and strengthen your claim.

Attorneys also use police reports, accident reports, witness statements and more to build a case. You may not know all the questions you should ask witnesses, and you may not know which professionals to speak with to gather evidence. Rather than miss risking an essential piece of information, leave gathering evidence to your legal representative.

Collecting Evidence of Damages

If you suffered severe injuries during your accident, you could have extensive medical costs to explore and inventory. While you may reach out to medical facilities for your records, it may take time before you get them. Small medical offices may not have the staff to devote to gathering and sending paperwork. You may need to follow specific procedures to get a large medical facility to send your requested documents. In the meantime, you still have unpaid medical bills to address.

Say a medical facility fulfills your request promptly. Even then, you could have incomplete records, putting you back at square one. Many legal professionals have staff to help them follow up on medical records requests. Meanwhile, you put all your focus on recovering from your injuries and returning to your routine as much as possible.

Also, your doctor may not mention the cause of your injuries, only your diagnosis. To stand a better chance at winning a personal injury suit, you must use medical evidence to prove your specific disability, injury or physical limitation. Your medical evidence must also prove the defendant’s negligence caused your limitation, disability or injury.

Negotiating With the Other Side

It takes skill to negotiate with personal injury defendants and insurance companies. Experienced attorneys know how to determine a car accident claim’s worth and negotiate on their client’s behalf. If they must negotiate with the defendant, they know which tactics help them protect their client’s most favorable interests.

Negotiating With Lienholders

After your accident, your health or disability insurance provider may cover your health care costs while you wait for your legal case’s outcome. If so, your coverage company may put a lien on your claim, so it gets paid before you do. Attorneys know how to negotiate with lienholders to reduce their claim to your settlement. The lower the lien, the more money you get.

Trust Your Case to Dedicated Auto Accident Attorneys

No matter how clear-cut or minor your car accident case may seem, you should not have to represent yourself and risk your claim to fair compensation. The attorneys of Fielding Law are here to protect your rights and make sure you get every penny you rightfully deserve. You don’t pay a fee unless you win, and you get direct access to your attorney. To learn more, call 877-880-4090.