A car accident is never anticipated, but just about everyone will be involved in one at some point. According to a 2011 Forbes news story, the average American files a car insurance claim every 17.9 years. This means for most people, a lifetime will include three or four accidents. Fortunately, most of these are not much more than a parking lot fender bender. The National Safety Council estimates the gamut to include approximately 10 million accidents annually, while only three out of every 1,000 will result in a fatality. Even if you walk away without a scratch, your vehicle might not fare as well. In some circumstances, a car accident attorney may be valuable in helping process the accident insurance claim.
When to Hire a Car Accident Attorney
Even if the accident was straightforward and the other driver is to blame, you might want an attorney to help with the insurance claim. Insurance companies exist to provide protection, but do not make a profit by paying out at the top dollar. Ideally, a customer is paying a low annual fee that will cover any accidents that happen over a longer period of time. The insurance company will, in the long run, collect more in premiums than it pays out in benefits. When an accident victim might need a larger compensation amount, negotiating with an insurance company is rarely pleasant.
A car accident attorney will be familiar with the appropriate rate for varying degrees of accidents. He or she will be equipped to negotiate these figures to get you the maximum payout. When your car is totaled and you need to get to work, this can be a huge benefit. Likewise, the attorney you hire will be more knowledgeable about the laws – federal, state, and local – and may be able to use this to your advantage.
Shopping around for an attorney can be difficult if you have never had need of one. Ask friends and colleagues for recommendations. Browse advertisements, but be wary of claims that promise too much. You want someone with a balance of education and reputation. Narrow the selection down to a few and call for a consultation. Most offer a free evaluation of your case, but be sure to ask before you make an appointment.
A consultation gives the attorney a chance to evaluate your case to determine whether you have a valid claim and make an estimate on the compensation amount. Use this as an opportunity to evaluate the attorney as well. Find out about fees, the legal process, and any concerns you might have. When medical expenses are involved, particularly if long-term disability was a result of the accident, it is especially important to work with someone who can help.