If a negligent driver injured you in a serious traffic accident, there’s a good chance that you have incurred significant accident-related expenses. Between vehicle repairs, medical expenses, and lost income from missed work, the economic costs of a serious car crash can easily rise well into the tens of thousands of dollars, if not more. And this is to say nothing of your non-economic losses, such as your substantial physical and emotional pain and suffering or lost quality of life.
Facing these expenses, the idea of an expensive personal injury attorney to represent you may seem ill-advised, especially if the insurance company has indicated that it would like to settle your case. You, however, can retain an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you at no up-front expense, and you will only have to pay for legal representation if your lawyer successfully obtains compensation on your behalf. If your lawyer does not obtain a settlement or award for you, you will owe nothing for legal fees. This is called a contingency fee arrangement and it provides injured victims access to legal representation regardless of their ability to pay up front.
Why Do I Need an Attorney to Represent Me?
You may wonder why you should retain a lawyer if the insurance company is willing to write you a check. Keep in mind that insurance companies make money by collecting premiums each month and paying out as little as possible. They are under no legal obligation to settle your case for a fair amount and will do everything they can to settle your case for less than what your injuries actually cost you. Here are some of the ways that insurance companies minimize settlement payouts:
- Making unreasonably low initial offers, making subsequent (but still inadequate) offers seem more attractive
- Misrepresenting victims’ legal rights during negotiations (for example, telling them that they are not entitled to compensation for their pain and suffering)
- Advising victims that they will obtain less compensation by retaining an attorney
- Waiting to make an offer until medical bills and other expenses have started piling up, putting victims under significant financial strain
- Pressuring victims to provide a recorded statement about their accident when the law requires no such statement
When you have an attorney on your side, he or she will communicate with the insurance company for you and present evidence that demonstrates your damages. If the insurance company still refuses to make a reasonable settlement offer, your lawyer may file a lawsuit to ensure that you recover the compensation to which you are entitled under California law.