Can You Settle a Car Accident Claim Without a Lawyer?
Individuals involved in car accidents often find themselves inundated with lots of extra work following a collision resulting in property damage and especially injuries. Calls from insurance companies tend to be more frequent as adjusters try to determine if a motorist suffered any injuries in the crash and, if so, how potentially catastrophic (and costly) they are.
It perhaps would seem pretty natural to keep a line of communication between you and an adjuster open as you seek property damage repairs and treatment for any injuries you suffered in the crash. Many Baltimore drivers who become entangled in Maryland crashes do this. However, despite it being possible to settle a car accident claim without a lawyer, there are various reasons why it’s not ideal.
Below, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of handling a car crash claim on your own so that you can make a more informed choice about whether this option is right for you in your Maryland motor vehicle accident case.
Why Injured Motorists Often Handle Their Car Accident Claims on Their Own
Drivers, passengers, and others involved in car accidents often opt to handle insurance claims independently. Prospective plaintiffs do so because they:
- Weren’t physically injured, but instead, just their vehicle was damaged
- Don’t think their injuries are serious enough to warrant getting a car accident attorney involved
While not working with a lawyer to file a claim may make sense if there’s only property damage and an insurance company is willing to reimburse repair costs fairly, few accidents just leave cars damaged. Many crashes instead leave vehicle occupants injured.
Adrenaline often races through a motorist’s veins after a car accident. This burst of energy can make it challenging for someone to determine if and how badly injured they are. That adrenaline wanes with every passing hour following a crash. The presence or extent of injuries may become more apparent during the days following the wreck.
You may realize that you need to see a doctor for an assessment and discover that you require testing and further treatment. You should proceed with caution if it becomes apparent that you require additional medical care.
Admissions you make regarding your physical or mental health to insurance adjusters can adversely impact your ability to have a successful car accident claim in the future. While you may think that the cost of having an attorney help you navigate the claims process is unnecessary, it may make the difference in how much of a settlement you can secure in your case.
Benefits Associated With Having an Attorney Handle Your Car Accident Claim
While it may seem like it would be best to handle your car accident claim on your own, doing so can affect the outcome of your case. Attorneys can generally secure better results because of the following factors:
Taking Advantage of Self-Represented Claimants
Insurance companies are big businesses in the sense that while it seems their focus is on being there for you when you need them to help foot the bill for auto repairs or medical costs post-crash, they’re also for-profit enterprises. They look for every opportunity to deny auto insurance claims. They do so because they’re aware that the less they pay out on claims, the more their annual revenue grows.
Insurers are particularly keen on taking advantage of pro se claimants, terminology which refers to motorists or other injured parties who represent themselves. They know that the average vehicle occupant or another injured party is often unaware of their rights following a car accident. Insurance adjusters capitalize on this naivety and try to box in claimants into making certain admissions that may make it challenging to prove their Baltimore car accident case.
Car accident attorneys generally know all the tactics insurance companies use to get injured parties to settle cases early or to allow them to deny liability down the road. Experienced lawyers like ours at Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC generally don’t get tripped up by adjusters because they’re prepared and know what to expect. On the other hand, individuals who handle their own claims may fall prey to insurance companies’ unscrupulous tactics, causing them not to receive justice for what they’ve been through.
Acumen To Build Strong Cases
Someone who has never built a car accident case may not completely understand what goes into doing so.
First, there’s knowing what types of driving behaviors violate existing laws. For example, truckers must abide by hours of service rules, perform pre-trip inspections, and follow other regulations established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or Department of Transportation. If a commercial carrier violates these rules, then proving liability becomes a lot easier in a truck accident case.
As another example, a passenger vehicle operator who engages in certain reckless driving behaviors such as operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol may leave you with an ability to request punitive in addition to economic and non-monetary damages in your case.
Then, there’s knowing what medical records to request, how to secure them, and what to expect them to show. It’s also critical to have a command of current medical expenses and future costs a patient may incur. Knowing this information is key to minimizing the chances of an injured party requiring care in the future and not being able to afford it.
Building a strong case may also involve introducing an expert witness, such as a medical professional or a road design engineer, to establish causation for a crash or injuries alleged to have stemmed from it. A vocational counselor may be called in to establish how much of a loss in potential earnings an injured party may have because of how their impairments make them unable to work. An actuary may be called in to document how much a loved one’s wrongful death deprives surviving family members of a more comfortable well-being.
An attorney knows what records and expert testimony may be needed to build a strong case capable of commanding maximum compensation.
Playing Hardball When Negotiating
Aside from proving liability, another benefit that you may derive from having an attorney help you with your claim instead of handling it on your own is when it comes to negotiating a settlement in your car accident case.
Again, insurance adjusters tend to play hardball more often with self-represented claimants. They do so because they believe you’ll be easier to bargain with and know that you likely won’t escalate your case to a trial if they give you a low-ball offer when working just with you.
Insurance adjusters, on the other hand, are often threatened by the prospect of a car accident attorney’s involvement in a case. Insurance companies worry that a claimant backed by an attorney will dig deeper or press harder to build a more airtight case that warrants a larger settlement.
An attorney’s involvement in a car accident case often gives way to more sizeable compensation because they typically clearly document everything that’s happened and don’t hesitate to ask for fair settlements reflective of what a claimant has been through.
What Should You Do if You Realize Handling Your Car Accident Claim Is Too Big of a Task To Handle?
If you decide to handle and try to settle your car accident claim on your own and later realize the process is a bit more involved than you anticipated, then you should reach out to an attorney right away. While you’ve often read on lawyers’ websites that it’s ideal to have legal counsel involved in your case from the get-go, now is better than never.
The best-case scenario is that exchanges between you and insurance adjusters won’t have reached the point where they can deny liability for your injuries. However, even if certain sentiments have been shared, there may be a chance to perform some type of damage control necessary to achieve a positive outcome in your Baltimore car accident case.
An attorney at Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC will want to learn more about conversations you might have had with adjusters before advising you of legal options available to you in your Maryland auto accident case.
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