How An Auto Attorney Can Help You Through The Accident Claims Process

In a single year, over 4.8 million people may get treatment for car crash injuries. If you have recently been involved in an auto accident, you likely are entitled to compensation if the other driver was at fault for the collision.

To get your due damages, you’ll need to undergo the auto accident claims process. Read on to learn how an attorney can help you at any stage of filing claims so that you can get money to pay off your accident-related expenses.

Understanding the Law

Arizona attorneys aren’t one size fits all. There are many different types of legal cases even within the personal injury umbrella.

Someone who’s an expert in medical malpractice or product liability cases are personal injury attorneys, but they won’t know much about car crashes. The same applies to workers’ compensation or slip-and-fall lawyers.

However, those that specialize in auto accident law will truly be experts in their area. They’ll have spent all their time in law school acquiring specialized knowledge about car accident cases, proving fault, and how to best succeed during the specific auto accident claims process. They will have focused all their time on these matters so they can best help those looking to process injury claims after car accidents.

This means that they’ll have a full and thorough understanding of what needs to happen during the claims process. Combine that with the fact that they’ll have years of experience specializing in this subsection of tort law, and you’ll be talking with someone extremely knowledgeable.

Filing With Your Insurance

The process of filing a car accident claim is generally simple. You call your insurance company and they’ll listen to your account of the car crash. Once you file the claim, a representative will contact you to discuss the next steps.

This representative will go over what you have to say and evaluate your claim. They’ll assess the possible outcome of the claim and try to complete it ASAP.

This process aims to get you compensation from your own insurance company. What’s covered is going to depend heavily on the policy that you pay for.

There will be a claims process with the other driver’s insurance adjuster later. You’re filing with your own insurance company for faster compensation. Assuming you and your lawyer can prove that the other driver was at fault, you’ll be able to get money from them.

Helping You Understand the Accident Claims Process

However, there are a few problems here, the first being that individuals don’t know how to talk to their insurance companies the right way. It’s hard to discuss your claim with an agent when you don’t know the ways that they try to get you to admit some fault. After all, they want to pay you as little as possible, so they’re going to try to trip you up.

An attorney can talk to your insurance company for you. They’ll answer questions about your claim and help you file it the right way. This will ensure that you don’t get tripped up.

This is especially important because they can walk you through the claims process as well. You won’t need to stumble along blindly and call agents that have nothing to do with your claim. You’ll save time because an attorney knows exactly who to talk to (and has likely done so hundreds of times before).

The lawyer will keep you in the know about what stage of the process you’re on. They’ll discuss the details of your accident with you and let you know what to expect. They’ll also inform you about how the discussions are going and what the outcome of your claim might look like.

Proving Fault

Arizona is an at-fault state. This means that each driver’s insurance company and an attorney will come together and assign an adjuster to see who was at fault. The at-fault driver will be responsible for paying the accident-related expenses of the other driver.

After talking to your insurance agent, your attorney will begin the process of proving that the other driver was at fault for the accident. To be at fault simply means to be responsible for the accident.

This is the first step toward getting compensation from their insurance company to cover further expenses that your insurance did not cover.

If you were not at fault, you and your lawyer will then file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company. This will help you pay for out-of-pocket expenses. It may also pay for the claim that you filed earlier with your own insurance company.

It’s important to note that Arizona has a “pure comparative negligence” system. This means that one driver isn’t often going to be 100% at fault. The fault is usually split between both parties.

In some cases, the at-fault party may be only 60% responsible for the collision while you’re 40% responsible. In other cases, they may be 95% at fault while you’re only at 5%. The more at-fault the other party is, the more compensation you’ll be able to get from the other driver.

Gathering Evidence

Your attorney’s job is to help you prove that the other party was more at fault than you. The first step to this is gathering evidence.

Some of this evidence will consist of information you gathered at the crime scene, such as:

  • Photos of your car and the other driver’s car
  • Both license plate numbers
  • Both driver’s license numbers
  • Auto insurance information
  • Photos of your injuries and, if allowed, the other driver’s injuries
  • Photos of the accident site (showcasing other hazards, weather conditions, street signs, stoplights, etc)
  • The name and contact information of the other driver

However, other things will be challenging for you to obtain on your own.

You’ll need medical records to determine how much you can get in damages. Unfortunately, hospitals don’t have the time or staff to give out medical records right away whenever someone asks. A skilled lawyer can figure out their procedures, ask questions, and get the records much more quickly than you could alone.

They also can request police reports filed by both you and the other driver. This will give them an on-site account of the accident. The attorney can assess every viewpoint to figure out who’s more at fault and by how much.

Lawyers can also request security footage that individuals can’t. They can help find eyewitnesses and take accounts. An attorney is there to ensure that you get all relevant information needed to properly determine fault.

Figuring Out Possible Damages

Once they have an idea of the fault in the accident, your lawyer can help you understand the damages you can recover from the claims process. “Damages” refers to the compensation you can get after the auto accident. Some common damages include:

  • Compensation for medical bills (visits, treatments, medication, medical devices, rehabilitation, therapy)
  • Payment for ambulance rides
  • Money to make up for lost wages (to be determined by pay stubs and employer testimony)
  • Temporary or permanent disability
  • Property damage (to your vehicle)
  • Nonfinancial compensation for pain and suffering, including physical pain or mental anguish
  • Punitive damages if the at-fault party was grossly negligent

Your attorney understands the law well enough to help you decide what you’re entitled to. They’ll convey this information to you and give you a ballpark range for the sum you can collect.

This will let you know what to expect. It will also give you an idea of how much the case will settle for so you can budget and plan accordingly.

Communicating With Other Parties

Attorneys will also help you communicate with other people involved in the compensation process. This doesn’t just mean the insurance company or attorney of the other driver.

It also means, for example, communicating with the hospital you got treatment at for medical bills. Attorneys will talk with your employer and workplace HR representative to get information about how the accident has impacted your work performance. They’ll talk to rehabilitation or physical therapy professionals about the severity of your injuries and your progress.

Law enforcement can also be especially intimidating for civilians to interact with. A lawyer will talk to them about the accident so you don’t have to, and they can request police reports and accident footage.

The goal of a lawyer is to get information from all sources. You won’t need to worry about talking to new people and trying to get information about your case while you’re in recovery. The role of an attorney is to make a stressful and traumatic time easier for you.

Negotiating With Insurance Agents

Negotiation of a settlement is the next step in the claims process. This is when your attorney talks to the other driver’s insurance company about getting compensation. The other driver also may have an attorney present.

Like your insurance company, the opposing party’s insurance will want to give you the smallest possible settlement. After all, paying money to you means that they’ll lose it. It’s the job of your lawyer to overcome this obstacle and get you the highest possible sum.

In certain cases, the attorney may have even spoken with the other party’s insurance before. This makes it easier for them to come to an agreement.

Even if they haven’t, attorneys have experience with other insurance agents before. They’ll know all the traps and pitfalls that they try to create and understand how to avoid saying the wrong thing. This means that you’ll get top-notch representation without worrying about causing detriment to your own case.

After a while, your lawyer will get a settlement offer from the insurance agent. Usually, you’re not going to take the first offer. They’ll try to lowball you, so more negotiations will be necessary.

However, you must take your attorney’s advice when it comes to settlements.

The role of the lawyer is to let you know when they reach the best offer they think you’re going to get. Understand that they’re there to help you and will receive payment depending on how much they get for you. It’s in the lawyer’s personal interest to take the highest settlement they can, too.

Once you settle, you’ll get the compensation you deserve after the accident. You can use it to pay off your debts and basic needs until you’re back on your feet.

Taking Your Case to Court

Most car crash claims are settled outside of the courtroom. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, only 4%-5% of auto accident cases ever go to court. However, if your case is one of these unlikely situations, you’ll need someone to go to bat for you in court.

Experienced accident lawyers who guided you through the claims process will know all the ins and outs of your case. They’ll be able to defend you in front of a judge with all the facts.

These attorneys will also have presented cases in front of a judge before. In fact, in many cases, your Arizona accident lawyer will have worked with the same judge multiple times. They’ll know how to best talk to them so that you can obtain fair compensation.

Get Started With the Accident Claims Process

While the accident claims process can be a challenge for those recently involved in a traumatic event, an attorney can help make it easier. Now that you know how, it’s time to reach out to a car accident lawyer so you can start the claims process the right way.

Sweet Lawyers’ team is committed to providing you with expert legal help in a wide range of situations. Our 98% success rate means that we’ll be able to help you reach a fair settlement and get as much compensation as possible. Reach out to our experts to schedule a free consultation ASAP.

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