Most car accidents happen in an instant, but they can have serious consequences for everyone involved. Even though the insurance company will tell you that they want to help and that a lawyer’s not worth the time and money, this advice is often self-serving. While you need help paying your medical bills and rebuilding your life, the insurer just wants a fast, cheap settlement.
In this blog, the team at Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys outlines three ways a personal injury attorney can help after a negligent driver injures you or someone you love.
The Essentials of Car Accident Law
Car accidents in Alabama and Mississippi are relatively common. However, most accident victims don’t understand the basics of our injury laws and how they may impact their claims. First, both Alabama and Mississippi are fault-based states. When someone injures you in a car accident, you typically will file a claim with their insurance company, demanding compensation.
Depending on your personal car insurance policy, you may also be able to file uninsured/underinsured and Med Pay claims with your own insurer. If you’re not sure what your options are, it’s best to contact an injury lawyer.
Second, filing an insurance claim is just the first step in the claims process. An insurance adjuster will investigate your claim and determine whether the other driver was negligent or at fault. Sometimes, this analysis is relatively clear; if a drunk driver is driving the wrong way and hits you head-on, they’re most likely to blame. However, other cases are more complicated.
For example, Alabama applies a strict standard of contributory negligence. If you helped cause the crash, even by 1%, you cannot recover compensation. Suppose you were speeding when a drunk driver runs a stop sign, t-boning your vehicle. In this case, it’s likely that the insurance company will try to assign at least some blame to you—even if it’s not warranted.
(If you were injured in Mississippi, you don’t have to worry about contributory negligence. The state uses a more reasonable standard, where the court will reduce your damages by your percentage of fault.)
Regardless, the adjuster will scour your case, looking for reasons to deny your claim or reduce its value.
3 Ways a Car Accident Lawyer Can Strengthen Your Claim
1. Your Lawyer Will Investigate Your Car Accident and Preserve Important Evidence
Your word is not enough in a car accident claim. Instead, you’ll need evidence that documents the crash, explains your injuries, and outlines your damages. Depending on your circumstances, your evidence may include:
- Medical records and bills
- Paystubs and information about your lost income
- Police reports and witness statements
- Video footage and photographs from the crash scene
- Electronic data from a commercial vehicle’s black box or logbooks
- Cell phone records and texting data
- Long-term care recommendations from your doctors
- Insight from expert witnesses
While you can gather some of these items, such as photos of your injuries or a copy of the police report, a seasoned attorney can help you identify and compile harder-to-get evidence.
Cell phone records, for instance, can serve as a critical piece of evidence in a distracted driving car accident. Many times the driver will resist giving you their text and phone records. However, a skilled and experienced attorney can issue a formal request, called a subpoena, to access them. If the driver ignores a subpoena, they may face additional penalties.
2. Compiling Witnesses’ Testimony Under Oath
Over time, witnesses’ memories may fade or change. That’s why lawyers take depositions, where a witness testifies under oath while a court reporter records their statements. Typically, a deposition involves:
- Swearing-in of the witness, who may be an eyewitness or an expert
- The lawyer that scheduled the deposition asks the witness questions
- The other side’s lawyer then asks a series of questions, sometimes called a “cross-examination”
These statements can help you understand all the factors that contributed to your crash and how much your case is worth.
An experienced trial lawyer can make a significant impact during a deposition. For example, a well-prepared attorney can sometimes get a witness to make admissions that strengthen your case. Your lawyer will also prepare you to testify during a deposition, educating you about the process and common tactics used by defense lawyers.
3. Fighting For Fair Compensation for Your Injuries
Before you accept a settlement, you need to know your claim’s full value. You and your lawyer will need to consider your medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other factors in your calculations. While it can be difficult to calculate a fair settlement value, it’s almost certain that the insurance company’s first offer will be too low.
Negotiating a fair injury settlement is an art. Your lawyer will consider a variety of factors, including the:
- Severity of your injuries
- Likelihood of making a full recovery
- Current and future medical needs
- Strength of your legal arguments and your chances of winning at trial
A skilled personal injury attorney can help present an accurate picture of the crash and negotiate a fair settlement.
While many cases settle out of court, it’s not always your best option. At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we are not afraid of trying cases when the insurance company is being unreasonable.
Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys: Tenacious Alabama and Mississippi Car Accident Lawyers
At Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys, we’ve been fighting for car accident victims in Alabama, Mississippi, and the Gulf Coast for over 30 years. We understand the impact a car crash can have on you and your loved ones and want to help. Please contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation. During our discussion, we will listen to your story, ask relevant questions, and offer our suggestions regarding your best course of action.
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.