What Does A Car Accident Lawyer Actually Do?


    What is the benefit of a top-ranked car accident attorney?

    "Is it worth it to hire a car accident attorney", is a question I hear quite often as an Alabama personal injury attorney. To answer that question, I want to give you some insight into what a quality car accident litigation attorney can and should be doing for you. After a car accident, you have a lot on your plate, including getting your car fixed or the purchase of a new vehicle, healing from your injuries, missing time from work, and how you are going to get the bills paid. If you are handling the whole thing on your own, then you are also going to need to collect evidence, negotiate with the insurance adjuster, and try to learn about the laws affecting your particular car accident as you go. This can be overwhelming, time consuming, frustrating, and can result in money being left on the table.

    This is where a top-ranked car accident lawyer can really change the landscape of the case for you. As a car accident lawyer, it is my job to take on most of those responsibilities for you, so that you can focus on healing and getting back to your normal life. It is my job to assist you in negotiating your property damage claim, collecting evidence for the case, collect your medical treatment records and bills, to negotiate your bodily injury claim with the insurance company, and if necessary, file your lawsuit in Court and take the case to a jury trial. I also particularly like when attorneys/lawyers are referred to as Counselor, I like this because, I believe it is an attorney’s job to not only counsel you on the legal issues in your case, but to also be there as emotional counsel. If you need to vent, need help processing the aftermath of the accident, or just want to feel like someone cares about what happens to you, then a top-ranked personal injury attorney should be meeting those needs as well.

    How does an Attorney help you negotiate your property damage?

    In many cases, the client is fully capable of handling in their own property damage claim, but in some instances, they may need my help or guidance. It is still the attorney's job to help in gauging the value of your property, negotiating for the client if they request, or in pushing for the vehicle to be totaled rather than repaired in instances where the values are close. A good car accident attorney will also discuss the opportunity to make a diminished value claim after your vehicle has been repaired. We all know that a vehicle goes down in value after an accident, regardless of how good the repair is. A diminished value claim helps you recoup some of that lost value.

    How to collect evidence necessary to pursue your claim?

    The collection of evidence in a disputed liability case can completely alter the trajectory of the case. The sooner you hire an attorney the more likely it is that he can collect all of the available evidence. This includes medical treatment records, medical bills, pictures of your vehicle, pictures of the defendants vehicle, the repair estimate for you'r vehicle, the police report, pictures of your injuries, and anything else that may influence the jury to side with you in the event of a trial.

    How do you obtain video evidence for your personal injury claim?

    Video evidence is extremely time sensitive. This is because most people and businesses recording video do so on a loop and after a period of time, the video is recorded over if it is not extracted and saved elsewhere through some manual process. This means that the sooner you hire an attorney, the more likely they can collect video evidence. If you believe video evidence of your car accident exists, you should advise your attorney. If you have a dash-cam then bring it to your attorney for them to download the video. If you notice someone else involved in the accident has a dash cam, then make a note of it and tell your attorney. He can send what is known as a spoliation letter to make sure that information is preserved and can be collected during the discovery process. If you see cameras on the outside of buildings that look to be facing the scene of the accident, then you should make note of those locations and advise your attorney, so that he can contact them individually in hopes of collecting video before it is lost. Finally, another common location for video is intersection cameras, these records can be collected via a freedom of information request (FOIA).

    What are the benefits of video evidence in a personal injury case?

    If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth millions. Juries naturally want to be entertained, and video makes them feel like they are part of the event. Words on a page often bore a jury, live witness testimony is better, but doesn't touch the level of engagement you can get from a jury with a video. Your top-ranked personal injury lawyer should be trying to locate and collect evidence that proves your case. In a recent example from my practice, a client was hit when he was making a turn and another driver tried to pass him by crossing double yellow lines. The insurance company for the at-fault driver denied the claim stating that my client was partially to blame for the collision. Luckily, we located a ring doorbell camera on one of the houses on that street. The camera caught the entire accident and showed that my client initiated a turn right as the at-fault driver attempted to execute an unlawful pass. I sent this video to the insurance claims adjuster, and they immediately accepted liability for the collision. Why you need to collect your medical treatment records and bills? As you treat your attorney should be communicating with you to see how you are healing. They should also be keeping up with what providers you are treating and when you complete treatment with that provider. As you complete treatment the car accident attorney will collect all of your records and bills from the providers you saw. Collecting records can be an arduous task since many of these providers have sight medical records and billing departments. In some cases, it can take weeks or even months to get all of the records in after a client completes treatment. These records and bills will be used to create a demand letter that will be sent to the insurance company to initiate settlement negotiations.

    Why having a top-ranked personal injury lawyer negotiating with the insurance companies matters?

    I know a lot of people think, I don't need an attorney to negotiate for me. While that may be true, there are a lot of factors that come into play when negotiating a car accident settlement.  These factors may include delays in treatment, complex legal doctrines, compensatory vs punitive damages calculations, and the intangible threat of a lawsuit once an attorney is involved. In Alabama, there are several complex legal doctrines that can kill a car accident case and if you are not familiar with them it could result in a zero recovery. Without going into too much detail, most States have comparative fault; however, in Alabama the rule of contributory negligence is still controlling. Contributory negligence means that if you are found to be even 1% at fault, then you are barred from recovery for the damages you suffered in the accident. Having an experienced Alabama Car Accident Attorney on your side plays a critical role in maximizing recovery in your negotiations. I read recently that it is estimated that clients who hire an attorney receive three times more than those who don't. Another attorney in an interview I watched  estimated that it was not three times, but ten times more. While no attorney can, or should, promise you a result, it does appear that hiring an attorney makes a significant difference in settlement negotiations.

    Will your car accident attorney file a lawsuit and litigate it to a trial if necessary?

    The big one is, as a top-ranked car accident attorneys need to be willing to file a lawsuit if a settlement can't be reached by negotiation. There are some companies that just won't negotiate in good faith until they see you are willing to file the lawsuit. You need to ask your attorney if they are willing to take your case to trial. I am aware of at least one attorney that had it in his contract that he would not take a case to trial.

    The personal injury attorney you hire should be ready to draft a Complaint, file the lawsuit, find the defendant, get the defendant served with the lawsuit, notify the insurance company of the lawsuit, and issue the appropriate discovery to the opposing parties. This pushes the case forward and lets the insurance company know that you are serious about pursuing a fair recovery in your case. Pushing the case forward is the key. Lawsuits create pressure and pressure brings people to the table to negotiate. Your attorney should always have an eye towards a trial, that way even if negotiations still fail, he is ready to present the evidence to a jury and have them determine the outcome of your case. The insurance adjuster and opposing counsel are much more likely to settle with an attorney and client they know are serious about going before a jury.

    How does an accident lawyer assist you in getting reductions on your treatment bills?

    Finally, once the money is collected from the insurance company for the at-fault party the attorney's job doesn't end. Car Accident attorneys are often able to negotiate with your healthcare providers and health insurance to reduce your bills that are related to the accident. The amount of the reductions, or if they can get one at all, varies greatly between providers, but as a general rule, most will reduce the bills by some percentage. Many of these providers will reduce by at least the percentage of the attorney's fees since his work is the reason for there is money available to cover the bills. Beyond that, some providers will reduce further, depending on the facts of the case and the amount of the recovery. A skilled personal injury lawyer will know which providers to ask for reductions and what amount he is likely to be able to get reduced. Getting these reductions is just another way that your attorney can help put more money into your pocket. Ask your attorney about the possibility of getting bills reduced.

    About Nelson:

    Nelson Johnson is an experienced Alabama Personal Injury Attorney. He represents clients that have suffered injuries due to the negligent or reckless conduct of another. The primary focus of his practice is on auto-accident litigation, including car accidents, motorcycle accidents, and commercial trucking collisions. If you would like to learn more about Alabama Personal Injury Law visit his website for more information.

    You can also find Nelson on Adidem.  Adidem helps you connect with injury lawyers so you can obtain information about your claim and see if you'd like to hire a personal injury lawyer. 


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