Whether to hire a lawyer after a car accident is a big decision. The choice you make could have a big impact on your experience during the months ahead, as well as how much money you might recover from the insurance company.
As an accident victim, you have certain rights. That includes the right to talk to a New York car accident lawyer before you talk to an insurance company or consider accepting their settlement offer. At Lever & Ecker, PLLC, we offer free consultations to accident victims in Manhattan, White Plains, and beyond.
Of course, you also have the right to fight the insurance company on your own, without a lawyer’s help. But there are some things you should know before you make that call.
Very minor accidents (with no injuries and no significant property damage) can often be resolved satisfactorily without a lawyer’s help. But if your accident involves any kind of injury, a lawyer may be able to make a meaningful difference in the outcome of your claim.
Here are seven reasons why you should hire a lawyer after a car accident:
1. To Deal with Insurance Companies
Insurance companies are for-profit corporations. Many people mistakenly assume that insurers are “advocates” for their policy holders and/or accident victims. On the contrary, insurance adjustors will do everything they can to protect their company’s financial interests. If they can find a way to pay you less money, they’ll take it.
Indeed, insurance adjustors can be extremely strategic and aggressive. They have a great deal of experience, not to mention extensive financial resources and a team of attorneys behind them. In other words, they’re at an advantage over you. By hiring a New York car accident lawyer, you can level that playing field.
From the moment you hire a lawyer, your attorney takes the reins and begins to fight the insurance battle for you.
Your attorney’s job is to represent you, advocate for your best interests, and protect you from the various tricks and traps that insurance companies are so notorious for.
2. To Investigate Your Accident & Research Your Claim
The police report doesn’t always tell the whole story. Evidence can be very important when persuading an insurance company to bring more money to the table. Should your claim go to trial (more on that later), evidence will be critical there as well.
The right law firm will have ready access to resources that you don’t necessarily have as an individual. This includes legal research databases and established relationships with expert witnesses and investigators. For example, at our firm, we often work with accident reconstruction specialists to get to the bottom of exactly what happened in a crash. We also look for New York legal precedent that might be relevant to your claim.
Drivers are liable for their negligence behind the wheel. This includes common carelessness, such as:
- Texting while driving
- Driving while drowsy
- Driving under the influence of prescription or over-the-counter medications that impair judgment
- Horsing around in the car while driving
- Aggressive driving
- Inadequate vehicle maintenance
- Other kinds of negligence
Police officers aren’t always aware of these behaviors when they arrive at the scene. But an attorney can work diligently to get to the bottom of your crash whenever possible.
Among other things, as Manhattan & White Plains car accident lawyer, we might look for the following kinds of evidence in New York (depending on the circumstances of the crash):
- Video surveillance
- Eyewitness testimony
- Expert testimony
- Vehicle computer data
- Police reports / citations
- Driver statements
- Other relevant types of evidence or testimony
3. To Give You Crucial Legal Advice
Dealing with an insurance company on your own can be a real challenge. Adjustors are trained to seem friendly, but in reality, they’re working against you. If they can, they will use your statements and actions against you.
In fact, many insurance adjustors are trained to coax accident victims into “admissions of fault,” statements against their interest, contradictory statements, and making “recorded statements” that hurt their own case. In many cases, they may even go sleuthing through your social media. They have even been known to contact a claimant’s friends, neighbors, or relatives to try to gain evidence that the victim isn’t truly injured.
When you hire a lawyer after a car accident, you can get the advice you need to stay one step ahead of these tactics.
On your own, it’s all too easy to say the wrong thing, make the wrong kind of post on social media, or agree to something seemingly innocent that ends up costing you.
An experienced Manhattan & White Pains auto accident lawyer can help you make strategic choices and avoid common pitfalls.
4. To Negotiate a Settlement for as Much Money as Possible
It isn’t uncommon for insurance companies to make a settlement offer soon after a car accident. If you’ve received such an offer, you might be wondering whether to take it rather than hire a lawyer. Before making that decision, you should know that initial settlement offers frequently represent far less than the victim is owed.
After all, insurance companies don’t make settlement offers because they feel it’s “the right thing to do.” They arrive at those settlement numbers through careful calculations, and those calculations are designed to save them money. Their goal is to get rid of your claim as quickly as possible (and for the smallest amount of money possible).
The insurance company might, for example, claim that some of your medical bills “don’t count.” Alternatively, they might agree to your medical bills but fail to tell you that you might be entitled to lost wages, pain and suffering, and various other damages (depending on the facts and circumstances of your claim).
They might argue that your injuries were caused by something other than the accident, or that they aren’t the liable party.
They might try to take something you said at the accident scene — a polite statement like “I’m so sorry” or “Don’t worry, it wasn’t your fault” — and spin it against you.
They might delay your claim unfairly, or even deny it outright.
Your attorney can take a stand against these tactics, skillfully negotiating toward a more favorable settlement whenever possible.
Studies have shown that accident victims who hire a personal injury lawyer tend to recover more money than those who do not.
5. To Help You Understand How Much Money You Might Be Entitled To (and Who’s Liable)
Sometimes, car accident victims overestimate how much money they are entitled to. But in other cases, we have found that our clients are actually entitled to more money than they realized. This happens, in part, because insurance companies will often mislead victims — or downplay how much liability the insurance company really has.
On your own, it’s easy to feel “steamrolled” by the insurance company. A lawyer can help you arrive at a very clear understanding of what you’re entitled to and who is liable.
In some cases, there may be multiple liable parties, and you may have a claim for financial compensation against each of them. In other cases, you may even have an additional claim against the insurance company if they handle your case in bad faith.
At Lever & Ecker, PLLC, we understand how important it is for our clients to have a sense of what they’re owed. While we cannot promise specific results, we can help you understand the value of your damages, your rights under the law, and how much money victims with similar claims have recovered in New York in the recent past.
6. To Give You Peace of Mind
Auto accidents can be extremely stressful, taxing, and time-consuming. Simply by hiring an experienced Manhattan & White Plains car accident lawyer, you can take a huge weight off your shoulders.
A good lawyer will assume those burdens for you, fighting for your rights while you focus on moving on.
7. To Prepare Your Case for Trial
While we have been successful in resolving the majority of our clients’ claims through private settlements outside of court, occasionally, it may be in your best interest to take your claim to trial.
In fact, at Lever & Ecker, PLLC, we prepare every case for trial, even if we believe a favorable settlement is within reach. Why? It’s critical that the insurance adjustor believes that you are willing to go to court. Trials can be very costly for insurance companies, and they know there’s always the risk they could lose. Often, the insurer will negotiate more reasonably if it is apparent that your claim could go to trial.
Hiring a Lawyer After a Car Accident Doesn’t Have to Cost You Anything Up Front. Call Lever & Ecker, PLLC.
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed in a New York auto accident, you may be entitled to a greater amount of monetary compensation than you realize.
Please call the Manhattan & White Plains car accident lawyers at Lever & Ecker, PLLC to learn more about your rights and options under the law.
Get started with a free and confidential claim review today. We will not charge a fee for our services unless and until we get you money. Call 914-288-9191 or simply contact us online right away.