Do I need a lawyer after a car accident? This is a common question that many motorists ask themselves after being involved in a collision. Some may wish to avoid the stigma associated with seeking a claim after minor accidents, even if they were injured. Others may simply be unsure of their rights or if they have any recourse after a collision. An accident lawyer in Chicago sees many additional situations in which accident victims are unsure if their accident warrants a visit to an attorney. In most cases, the answer to this very important question is yes. Consider the following reasons why:
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Legal knowledge is key
While many laws in U.S. states are similar, there can be some very big differences from state to state. An attorney who works in North Dakota but who was injured in a collision in Illinois will often find an accident lawyer in Chicago to represent them. The attorney from North Dakota obviously has a good understanding of law, but they often know that their best chance at receiving a full settlement is to have representation from someone who works with Illinois laws on a daily basis.
Personal injury lawsuits are usually subject to statute of limitation laws. These laws state that an injured party has a certain amount of time in which to file their claim. In Illinois, motorists have two years from the date of an accident in which to file a claim against the offending party or insurer. Filing of a claim is different and separate from sending a demand letter asking for settlement.
Additional requirements must often be met as well prior to filing a lawsuit. If unrepresented victims do not adhere to these rules, they may miss the opportunity to sue those who are responsible for their injuries.
Experience handling insurers
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 2,362,000 individuals injured in motor vehicle accidents in 2012. Another 3,950,000 crashes caused only property damage that year. With these high rates of accidents, insurers and attorneys must often interact and over time that interaction breeds familiarity. There is power in familiarity, and both insurance companies and attorneys know this. After years of experience, attorneys see patterns and learn the policies and practices of many insurance companies. This is valuable information that they can use to benefit their clients. On the other hand, when insurers work with attorneys, they often drop many of their tactics used on unrepresented accident victims and instead quickly begin business.
No more hassling
Insurance companies will often do their best to railroad unrepresented individuals into giving up their rights and signing settlement docs almost immediately following a crash. When accident victims let insurers know that they have representation, this tactic immediately ceases and insurers must legally go through the attorney for all contact.
For those who are dealing with debilitating injuries and the necessary doctors appointments, physical therapy, and chiropractic care, handling the medical bills and negotiations with the insurance company is a lot to bear. In many cases, it is too much and accident victims simply give in to the demands that are placed on them and settle their claims for far less than they are truly worth. Premature settlement can be devastating for someone with accident-related chronic pain or other lifelong injuries that require years of treatment.
An attorney takes this pressure off of the injured. In many cases, accident victims can request that all communications regarding the accident go through their attorney, including inquiries from the victims own health insurance and medical providers. Lawyers often monitor medical insurance payments, pay medical bills, negotiate lower medical costs, and other general tasks associated with managing life and treatment following an accident. When this occurs, the patient’s main focus turns to healing, not to unpaid medical bills and frequent calls regarding settlement.
Ready for court
If an accident victim and insurance company fail to reach a settlement, the injured motorist has two options: drop the claim or file a lawsuit in civil court. This is an intense process that can be confusing and overwhelming for individuals to face on their own. While the court will do everything it can to help those representing themselves, they cannot slow down the lawsuit or give much extra time to unrepresented individuals because of the large number of cases the courts must oversee as well as fairness to those being sued.
When an accident lawyer in Chicago is involved, court is a familiar place which they attend on a regular basis. Their staff know the often confusing and tedious administrative rules about filing documents, court form requirements, and other issues that can make even filing one document in the court a long, drawn out process. They are also familiar with judges and their preferences. When accident victims choose to go to court with an attorney representing their interests, they have an inside player who knows what needs to be done and when, as well as how to do it to reap the best possible results.
Who really needs an attorney?
Those who have been injured in an accident should immediately seek the advice of an accident lawyer in Chicago. Additionally, anyone whose property was damaged in a crash should also contact an attorney to ensure that they understand the law, their rights and responsibilities, and what they should expect from the situation. Even though many individuals feel that this may not be necessary, it is the only way for motorists to know they have been fairly treated and fully reimbursed for their lost property and injuries.