Choosing the finest attorney is important if you want the greatest result for your car accident claim.
You might be wondering how an attorney might assist you if you were hurt in a vehicle accident. What a car accident attorney brings to the table will be discussed in this article, including:
- A network of investigators and specialists who can support your case, organization and analysis of crucial data and documents, and savvy negotiating techniques will all help your car accident claim succeed.
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What Steps Will My Car Accident Attorney Take?
Although a lot will rely on the particulars and intricacy of your car accident claim, generally speaking, a lawyer can:
- Organize your medical bills and documents, speak with the other driver's insurance company, and gather the required evidence to prove who was responsible for the collision.
- Organize and present the evidence to demonstrate culpability and damages. Communicate with your healthcare providers to collect missing data. Work with your physicians to ensure they deliver the medical information you require.
- Negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance adjuster or defense attorney, as well as with lien holders on your claim (such as health, disability, or workers' compensation insurers) to perhaps lessen the amount of those liens.
Let's take a closer look at a few of these issues.
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Will your car insurance company provide an attorney?
When another driver sues you after a car accident, your car insurance company usually has a "duty to defend" you.
When you are accused of causing a car accident, and someone else sues you for personal injury, your auto insurance company will usually hire an attorney to defend your case in court, but there are major exceptions.
- If the accident was your fault, as long as it was caused by plain negligence (negligence), your insurance company's "duty to defend" includes having an attorney defend any claim brought against you because of the accident.
- The insurance company may rightly refuse to provide an attorney to defend a lawsuit against you against a motor car accident if you fail to provide proper notice of the accident, or if the accident was caused by your intentional action, among other reasons.
- If you are in a car accident and want to file a claim against another driver for injuries or damage to the car, your insurance company will not intervene; You will need to hire a car accident attorney on your own.
Defining Your Insurer's Duty to Defend and Duty to Indemnify
Most car insurance contracts include wording stating that in the event, the policyholder is involved in an automobile accident and is sued for damages resulting from the accident, the insurance company will provide legal representation for the policyholder. This is a requirement of the insurer's "duty to defend" under the terms of the policy, which applies to all forms of liability insurance. After all, customers purchase liability insurance to guarantee that they won't face personal financial hardship in the event of an accident involving their vehicle, small company, or property (homeowner's insurance) (auto insurance).
But the majority of vehicle insurance contracts, if not all of them, have explicit exclusions to the insurer's responsibility to defend. In other words, these contracts outline situations that would render the insurance company's responsibility to defend the policyholder essentially unenforceable, including the duty to provide legal representation for the insured to defend them against a civil lawsuit launched by the other motorist.
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When Your Insurance Company Might NOT Provide a Lawyer
The need to defend is not absolute, as is true of most legal "laws." Let's examine a few scenarios when your vehicle insurance provider might not be compelled to represent you in a dispute involving a car accident.
You Didn't Provide Notice of the Accident/Claim
The duty to defend may be invalid if the insured policyholder fails to notify the insurer of the accident, at the very least within the time frames stated in the insurance contract. This is particularly true if the delay has compromised the insurance company's ability to conduct an adequate investigation into the collision and/or reduce its losses related to the other driver's claim.
The phrase in your policy stating that you must notify the insurer of any accident that potentially results in a claim or coverage must be carefully reviewed. The time frame might be as short as five or ten days. The insurance provider may be able to decline to offer coverage for the accident if you fail to notify them of the accident within that time frame and you don't have a reasonable reason for not calling an agent. In addition, if you are sued for the accident, they can decline to give you legal representation.
What is a valid justification for failing to notify the insurance within the specified time frame? Generally, an extenuating factor justifying your failure to provide sufficient notice will be met if you were gravely hurt, in the hospital, or otherwise unable of notifying the insurer of the accident due to physical or mental incapacity.
Take no chances. If you can tell the insurance after a car accident, do it immediately, or at the latest the next day. Learn more about getting in touch with your insurance provider following a car accident.
An Intentional Act Caused the Car Accident
When damages previously paid out by the insurer reach the policy's coverage limitations, a third significant exemption to the insurer's need to give counsel may be applicable. Once the policy limits have been paid, the insurer generally has no further obligations toward the insured, including no additional obligations to pay money to settle claims or to continue to provide the insured with legal counsel.
Let's imagine you had $100,000 in liability insurance, but you caused a vehicle accident and caused the other driver to have catastrophic injuries, costing her far more than $100,000 in damages. In that situation, the insurer will attempt to settle the lawsuit for the $100,000 policy limits, but if it is unable to do so, it may be forced to pay the injured party the policy limits outright. The injured party is now free to sue you for the remaining amount of her damages (not the $100,000 already paid, of course). In addition, since your insurer is generally no longer required by law to do so, it is possible that it won't offer you legal representation if the injured party decides to sue you.
It's vital to keep in mind that each state may have different laws governing an insurance company's obligations in this case. So, if you find yourself in this predicament, it could be wise to speak with a personal injury attorney on your own.
What Happens If I'm Sued After a Car Accident?
If you are in a car accident and the other motorist (and maybe even your own insurance company) blame you, you may be subject to legal action. If your insurance company additionally argues that there is no coverage for the collision (for whatever reason), whatever money the other driver wins in court will be paid by you. It's one thing for your insurance company to refuse to pay a lawyer to represent you in court.
Consider a scenario in which the other motorist sues you in Texas' small claims court, where the plaintiff can ask for up to $20,000 from the defendant. The other driver requests the maximum small claims settlement, arguing that the sum of their medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering (all of which are referred to as "damages" in the legal jargon) equals that much. The judge determines that you are accountable for the entire $20,000 after considering the evidence of how the collision occurred and the kind and scope of the plaintiff's alleged losses. At that moment, you will be subject to an enforceable litigation "judgment." and you'll have to use your own funds to reimburse the other driver $20,000 as per the law. If you don't have enough cash on hand, you risk having your salary withheld or dealing with various forms of collection.
Of course, if there were significant injuries as a consequence of the collision, the other motorist could decide to sue you in civil court, where there is often no limit on the amount of money they might demand. You may be required to pay a judgment of six figures or more if a trial occurs and the judge or jury deems you responsible for the vehicle accident. Find out more about what happens if you cause a car accident.
There are some concerns that overlap between having a car insurance company refuse to defend you and being in a car accident without insurance, even though they are not the same situations. In both cases, personal financial responsibility for the crash's damages may arise. Find out what happens if you don't have insurance and are involved in a car accident.