Earning a car accident settlement is a long legal process with many moving parts. To answer the question bluntly, you can always represent yourself in fighting for a settlement. But your chances of getting the compensation you deserve are slim to none. Even after paying the attorney fee, most plaintiffs make significantly more in a settlement than if they represent themselves.
Your primary goal after a car accident should be recovering from your injuries and getting your life back in order. The road to recovery involves medical appointments, rehabilitation, procedures, and of course, lots of bills.
The goal in car accident lawsuits is to recover all the financial damages you incurred. Unfortunately, the at-fault party isn’t going to simply cut you a check and be on their way. The legal process to getting compensation for damages includes (but is not limited to):
- Gathering evidence
- Filing the claim
- Building the case
- Negotiating with insurance companies
- Preparing for trial (if applicable)
Navigating the legal protocol takes a professional. In this post, we dive into why hiring a specialized car accident attorney is the better option than taking matters into your own hands.
Earning a Car Accident Settlement is Never a Guarantee
There are very, very few guarantees in the legal field – especially with settlement results. Even if the other party is clearly at fault in the car accident, their insurance company will fight tooth and nail to shift the blame.
General rule: if a car accident lawyer makes bold guarantees about compensation for car accident injuries, it’s a red flag.
The Legal System May Not be on Your Side
Insurance companies have one goal when their client gets in a car accident: minimize liability. These companies invest a significant amount of time and resources to skew the law in their favor. They have no problem resorting to tricky tactics to accomplish this.
Car accident attorneys know the common tricks insurance companies use – and how to negotiate for the highest car accident settlement. It doesn’t matter if the other party was completely at-fault – trying to win compensation against large insurance companies will almost always leave you with the short end of the stick.
What Happens if You Represent Yourself?
You are not required to hire a car accident attorney to represent you. But it’s highly recommended if you want to earn the maximum settlement. If you choose to represent yourself, you should be aware of the challenges that come with the decision.
Here are four of the big ones.
1. Proving Fault Will Not Be Clear Cut
Attributing liability is the most important component in a car accident settlement. If you can prove that someone else caused the accident, you are entitled to compensation. Even if the other party is to blame, there is a big difference between what actually happened and what you can prove in court.
Car accidents commonly come down to your word against theirs. Your word alone will not equate to financial compensation for injuries. Earning a car accident settlement boils down to your ability to show the accident was caused by the other driver’s negligence. If you can’t do this, you will not receive compensation.
If you aren’t experienced in the legal field, attributing fault will be a big challenge. You can rest assured insurance companies won’t make any payments they don’t have to. The choice to hire a car accident lawyer will be the most important in attributing liability – and earning a settlement.
2. Valuing the Claim will be Extremely Difficult
Your goal in a car accident settlement is to recover compensation for every damage you suffered. Damages in car accident claims are generally grouped into two categories: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are recoupable damages with clear values attached. These would include (but are not limited to):
- Medical bills
- Future medical treatment costs
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Damage to earning potential
Non-economic damages refer to damages that don’t have price tags or invoices. These include (but are not limited to):
- Pain and suffering
- Lost companionship
- Decreased enjoyment of life
Adding up all these damages and building the car accident claim is not as simple as it might seem. When you hire an attorney for a car accident, they will request documentation and add everything up. From here, they will manage the legal process of earning this amount in the settlement.
3. Negotiations Won’t Likely Be Favorable
Imagine you’re going into a boxing match with zero experience – and your opponent is a professional with hundreds of matches under their belt. This is what negotiating with insurance companies on your own will be like.
To reiterate, insurance companies have plenty of tactics to shift blame onto victims of car accidents. They know how to ask deceiving questions to divert liability away from their clients. Experienced car accident attorneys will see these tricks coming from a mile away. They’ll advise you on how to conduct yourself – and how to avoid compromising your claim.
4. Car Accident Settlement Payouts Will Be Low
Every car accident settlement comes with a price. When it comes down to the settlement offer, the insurance companies will put the lowest one in front of you. There is a lot you can recoup in a car accident claim – and not having adequate legal assistance might make you blind to some of this.
Accepting a low ball offer will sign away your legal rights to seek additional compensation. The last thing you want to do is leave money on the table. The settlement offer without an attorney will almost always be lower than what you deserve.
Why Hire a Car Accident Attorney?
Simply put: navigating the legal process for car accidents will be nearly impossible without a skilled car accident injury lawyer. Your attorney will fight to earn the maximum car accident settlement – and make sure you don’t get taken advantage of by insurance companies.
Now, many people believe the decision to hire a car accident lawyer will be too costly. Car accident attorneys work on a contingency fee agreement. This means they make a percentage of the total car accident settlement AFTER they win it. Most importantly, it means you don’t pay anything upfront for their services. In other words, anyone can afford a skilled car accident lawyer.
Recovering from car accident injuries is stressful enough as it is. You don’t need the extra challenge of navigating the legal process. Your ability to win a fair car accident settlement comes down to the legal assistance you hire.
If you’re wondering how to settle a car accident claim without a lawyer, you should understand that having an attorney gives you a great deal of power. Insurance companies likely won’t take you seriously without one. When you have a credible lawyer on your side, it motivates insurance companies to be reasonable in negotiations.
The worst thing that can happen is you end up paying for damages caused by someone else. Hiring a car accident lawyer is the best way to avoid this.
If you’ve got questions about car accidents or personal injury cases, the team at Midwest Injury Lawyers is here to answer them. Even if you don’t have a valid claim, we’re happy to point you in the right direction. Call our office at (312) 786-5881 or send us a message to get started.