Five Common Misconceptions About Car Accident Litigation
For most people, the idea of getting involved in litigation is a frightening scenario. Especially if you are not sure you can afford a good legal team.
The legal world can be not only confusing and unfamiliar, but also intimidating. If you have been injured in an automobile accident, then you are likely dealing with insurance companies, adjusters, and in some cases, attorneys for other parties. If your wreck was minor, and did not involve any injuries, you could probably just as easily take care of it without the help of an experienced lawyer.
But what if you have been injured? What if you are facing stacks of medical bills? What if you are too hurt to look into your finances and negotiate with your insurance company or the other party’s insurance carrier?
All too often people make ill-advised assumptions that can put their accident cases in serious jeopardy. The five most common errors in this regard are:
1. “The insurance company will cover everything.”
Wrong. Your insurance company is not your friend. They are a business. Their goal is to minimize your payment and maximize their profit. Working with an attorney and filing a lawsuit may be your only hope of receiving compensation for your injuries, lost earnings and medical expenses. You do not have to accept the settlement offer made by your insurance company. There is no final offer until you sign an agreement. Discuss your case with an experienced lawyer first. If you settle prematurely, there’s little an attorney can help you to do after the fact.
2. “I cannot afford a lawyer.”
Many injured victims accept an unfair settlement from an insurance company because they don’t think they can afford a lawyer. The fact of the matter is, trusting your insurance company to protect your rights puts you at risk of being misled.
Insurance companies focus on profits. They are not in the business of offering you a fair compensation.
More often than not, insurance companies try to get you to sign off on an offer immediately after the accident. If you were injured in a car accident, any seasoned personal injury attorney will say, you should not accept any settlement offers until you have consulted with a professional. Thankfully, the lawyer’s fee is contingent upon his or her success with your claim in these cases.
After the case is settled or tried and the lawyer has helped you to recover what you’re owed, the attorney’s fees are usually a fraction of the amount awarded during litigation. Victims who choose to be represented by experienced auto accident lawyers or reputed law firms often receive much more compensation than those who opt to represent themselves. The best law firms will always offer a free consultation and comprehensive evaluation of your potential claim.
3. “If I’m partially at fault for the accident, I cannot get any compensation.”
If you were partly responsible for an accident, you still have a claim. The state of Washington follows the system of “comparative negligence.” This means that even if you played a role in causing the crash that led to your personal injury, you still can collect compensation.
Thanks to this legal model, you will be compensated depending on what your part or contribution was to the accident. For example, if it is determined that you were responsible for 30 percent of the accident damages, you can claim the total amount of damage minus 30 percent. In other words, if the damages are $20,000 total, you could recover a total of $14,000.
If you were injured in a car accident in Seattle and you believe your actions may have contributed to the collision, consider contacting an attorney and talking to him or her about protecting your rights. Once you have chosen a professional, let your attorney take over. Ask questions and make sure you understand what is going on through every step of the way, but allow a complete and impartial investigation to uncover all the facts. During this process, you might want to stay off social media and avoid discussing the accident online.
4. “I have all the time in the world to file a claim or lawsuit.”
You would be ill-advised to wait too long to file a car accident lawsuit. The statute of limitations in Washington is three years from the date of the accident. In some cases, especially if your claim is against a governmental entity, the time limit to file may be even shorter. Additionally, when you wait too long to pursue your rights, evidence that is critical to the case could be lost or destroyed.
5. “Litigation is a long battle.”
If you have an experienced lawyer, litigation does not have to be a drawn-out battle. A majority of the cases our firm handles are settled out of court. And while all cases are unique and seasoned attorneys know all the ins and outs of the legal system, a knowledgeable attorney also understand that a successful resolution can be achieved through negotiation. Unless your case is extremely complicated, most cases we handle are negotiated and settled within a year.
Do not let the waiting period scare you away from having your rights upheld.
If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, please contact the Bernard Law Group to find out more information about your legal rights and options. We know the ins and outs of the litigation process and have extensive experience dealing with insurance companies. We have what it takes to obtain the compensation you deserve.