Thousands of traffic accidents are reported in California each year. Like most other states, California follows a fault-based system for on-road mishaps. This means that you would seek compensation from the at-fault party for your losses, typically through an insurance claim. If the insurance company denies your claim or the settlement offer is unexpectedly low, you may need to pursue further legal action. Filing a civil lawsuit may be necessary for some circumstances. Given the impact of such accidents, it is best to get legal advice from an attorney.
You need the right lawyer
While personal injury lawyers often deal with a wide range of accident cases, few have experience handling car accident claims. Before you work with an attorney, ask them if they have worked on such cases in the past. It is essential to know whether an attorney can handle the curveballs along the way. If the case ends up in court, the lawyer should have prior trial exposure to argue on your behalf.
Know the role of your lawyer
An attorney does more than just the paperwork to process your car accident claim. They can do the following for you –
Evaluate the value of your claim in dollars
Investigate the car accident to find liability and fault
Gather evidence, including pictures, recordings, and other details
Talk to witnesses and other people who matter
Get help from accident reconstruction experts if the case demands
Consult medical experts to understand your injuries
Handle the paperwork related to the case
Argue the lawsuit in court
Working with an attorney
If you are meeting a lawyer to discuss the car accident claim, make sure that you are transparent and honest from day one. For instance, if you were at fault for the crash to an extent, your lawyer should be aware of that fact. Also, being upfront with the attorney about their fee and other expenses is a good idea. The client must pay investigating and court-related costs, while the attorney’s fee is usually contingent on the outcome. The lawyer will take a share (typically between 25% and 40%) of the final settlement as their fee. Knowing the expenses related to the case allows you to decide whether the legal battle is worth pursuing in the first place.
Contacting an attorney soon after the car accident is always better, as it allows them time to work on the case without losing time.