A car accident can happen to you at any time. Even if you’re an extremely safe driver, you can’t control the actions of others on Georgia roads. Car accidents can leave you with thousands of dollars in medical bills, costly car repairs, lost work time (and wages), and emotional damages that may last for years. But you should not have to bear the costs of another driver’s mistakes.
If you were not fully at fault for your accident, it’s time to seek the opinion of a Georgia car accident lawyer. The experienced lawyers at John Foy & Associates can help you build a strong insurance claim to seek compensation for your damages. We have 20 plus years of firsthand experience to guide you through the best steps in protecting your legal rights as a car accident victim. Call us at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online for a FREE, no-risk consultation today.
What Should I Do at the Scene of a Car Accident?
At the scene of a car accident, you will need to take steps to protect your legal rights. If you weren’t at fault for the accident, the other driver is liable for your damages. You will need to file a personal injury claim with their insurance company to seek compensation—and what you do at the scene of the accident can help strengthen your claim.
Before the accident even happens, it’s a good idea to be prepared by:
- Keeping your driver’s license with you at all times when driving
- Making sure proof of your insurance and registration is in your car
- Keeping emergency tools like flares and orange cones in your car
- Carrying recording supplies like a camera (or your phone) and pen and paper
- Making sure your hazard lights work
It’s also important to make sure you stay current on your insurance coverage and carry Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage in case an uninsured driver hits you.
At the actual scene of the accident, you should:
Pull Over and Render Assistance
Always stop when you get into a car accident—no matter who was at fault. Try to pull over to a safe space and put on your hazard lights to avoid further accidents.
If anyone involved in the accident is seriously injured, check on them and call 911 for emergency medical attention. If you are the one with severe injuries, get treatment for yourself or have someone else call right away.
Call the Police
Call the local police and tell them you were in an accident. If the other driver tries to settle things at the scene and doesn’t want to call the police, it’s a red flag. Call them anyway. Reporting the accident protects your rights and creates the first proof that the crash happened.
When officers arrive, they will get this information from each driver and passenger involved in the accident, but it’s a good idea to ask for it yourself as you wait for the police. Get the other driver’s full name, contact information, insurance information, and driver’s license number. If there is more than one driver involved, get their information too.
Just Give the Facts
When the arriving officers ask about the details of the accident, don’t try to guess. Tell them exactly what happened, but don’t admit any blame. Also, if they ask whether you’re injured and you don’t feel any pain yet, don’t say “no.” Instead, say you “aren’t sure.” Some injuries may manifest later as your adrenaline wears off.
Use your phone or a camera to take pictures of your injuries, damage to your vehicle, and the whole accident scene. These pictures will be crucial for your injury claim.
Talk to a Car Accident Lawyer
After you leave the scene, the best thing you can do is contact a Georgia car accident lawyer. You can discuss the details of the accident with them and get their opinion on what to do next. Then, they can help you take the next steps towards the fullest compensation possible.
What You Should Do After a Car Accident in Georgia
You can begin building your car accident claim as soon as the collision happens. Things you can do to legally protect yourself after the accident include:
- Calling the police to report the accident
- Exchanging names, phone numbers, and insurance information with the other driver
- Taking pictures (and possibly video) of the accident scene, vehicle damage, and your injuries
- Getting the names and contact information of any witnesses
- Seeing a doctor as soon as possible
- Scheduling a consultation with a Georgia car accident lawyer
What Can I Do to Protect My Rights After a Car Accident?
To legally protect yourself after a car accident, you will need to document the accident, gather evidence, get your injuries treated as soon as possible, and seek legal help.
Documenting the Scene
After the accident happens, you will need to:
- Call the police to report the accident and tell responding officers what happened
- Take pictures of the accident scene, your injuries, and vehicle damage to your car
- Avoid admitting any blame or apologizing to the other driver until you have all the facts
- Talk to witnesses and get their names and contact information
Each of these steps can help create a record of the car accident, which is crucial for your insurance claim.
Getting Your Injuries Checked Out
After you’ve left the scene, see a doctor as soon as you can to have your injuries checked out. Some car accident injuries take time to fully show up, so you should see a doctor even if your pain is minor. The sooner you can get treatment and create a record that you saw someone for your injuries, the better it is for your case.
Also, keep track of all medical bills, doctor notes, and other records of your injuries and medical expenses.
Taking Notes On the Accident
Keep a record of what happened before, during, and after the car accident. Write down how the accident made you feel and how your injuries have impacted your day-to-day life. Also, record any names and contact information of people you’ve communicated with about your accident.
Getting a Car Inspection
Assess how much your vehicle damage will cost to repair (or replace, if your car was totaled). You might see a few different inspectors for an average estimate of how much your vehicle damage is worth before the other driver’s insurance company steps in.
Documenting Your Damages
Keep track of all costs associated with your car accident. Use a file or folder to save documents and notes in one place. This should include:
- Your claim number
- The insurance adjuster’s name
- All medical bills and records
- Quotes for vehicle damage repairs
- Full names, phone numbers, and addresses for all relevant contacts
Calling a Car Accident Lawyer
Schedule a consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer who can make sure you are doing everything to protect your rights after the accident. It’s easy to get taken advantage of if you don’t know how to handle the insurance company, so a lawyer can make sure that doesn’t happen. They can also help fight for the fair settlement you deserve.
If the insurance company or other driver fights against your claim, your lawyer will be there every step of the way—even if you need to take the driver to trial.
Basically, be cautious in everything you do or say after a car accident. Avoid admitting blame, apologizing, or downplaying your damages—and get a trusted lawyer on your side who can help you take the right actions for your case. The goal is to protect your legal rights to full compensation for all the damages you face because of the other driver’s negligence that led to your accident.
What Should I Do in the Days Following a Car Accident?
After a car accident, you will need to spend time gathering evidence for your car accident claim, getting your injuries treated, and advocating for your rights to compensation from the accident. This can be a lot to handle if you are dealing with a lot of stress and pain from the crash.
A car accident lawyer can help make the process easier—so you can focus on healing from your injuries and recovering. However, there are some things you can do for yourself, as well, to help protect your rights.
Here are six things you can do in the days after a car accident:
1. Stay at the Scene
Never leave the scene of a car accident with injuries and/or property damage. You should stop and make sure you are in a safe location away from traffic. Leaving the scene is a serious offense in Georgia and most other states.
2. Exchange Information
Get the other driver’s full name, contact information, license plate number, and insurance information, and give them the same information. You should also note the make, model, and color of their vehicle.
3. Report the Accident to Police
In Georgia, you must also report a car accident to the police if there are injuries and/or $500 or more in property damage. Even if your accident is minor or the other driver doesn’t want to report it, you should call the police anyway.
4. Take Pictures
Picture evidence can be very useful in a car accident case, as they preserve what the accident and your damages looked like right after it occurred.
Use your phone to take pictures of:
- The accident scene
- Your injuries
- Any vehicle damage
5. Talk to Any Witnesses
Talk to anyone who may have seen your accident happen and get their contact information. Their testimony can be really helpful for your case.
6. Be Careful What You Say to the Other Driver
What you say to the at-fault driver or their insurance company may be used against you, so avoid apologizing or admitting any blame. Even if you feel like some of the accident is your fault, wait to speak to a lawyer first.
Then, in the days following the car accident, you should carefully document everything related to your injuries and other damages. That includes:
- Seeing a doctor for your injuries, even if they seem minor
- Keeping records like your doctor’s notes, medical bills, and receipts from all expenses
- Schedule a consultation with an experienced car accident lawyer for legal advice
- Telling your insurance company about the basic facts of the accident
- Getting ready to file a personal injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company
Keep in mind that you must file a claim within two years from the date of your accident. That time goes quickly, so it’s best to act now. Contact a trusted Georgia car accident lawyer who can help you with each step of the process. They can make sure your rights are protected and you are doing everything you can to build a strong insurance claim for your damages.
Is It Worth Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer?
In many situations, if you suffered injuries during the crash, hiring a car accident lawyer is absolutely worth it.
Since insurance companies work with whole teams of adjusters and attorneys, they know how to find ways to convince you your claim is worth much less than it actually is. If you accept a settlement without thinking about the full extent of your damages—current and future—you could be leaving a lot of money on the table. That means you’ll be left paying for a lot of the cost of your accident, even though have a right to recover more.
How a Car Accident Lawyer Helps
Hiring a car accident lawyer can help you with various aspects of your claim, including:
- Investigating the scene of your car accident (and reviewing pictures taken at the scene)
- Getting a copy of the police report, medical records, and other important documents
- Talking to witnesses who were at the scene
- Determining all of your damages, including medical treatment, lost wages, vehicle damage, and pain and suffering damages that are near impossible to calculate accurately alone
- Talking to the insurance company and negotiating a fair settlement on your behalf
It’s common for the insurance company to offer you a small settlement right after your accident. They may try to call you or send something by mail. This might be tempting as you are stressing about your bills after the accident, but it’s rarely enough to cover even a fraction of your damages. A car accident lawyer can make sure you don’t get taken advantage of.
Situations Where Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer Is Worth It
A car accident lawyer can help you seek the compensation you deserve in any situation. However, here are four instances where you should definitely schedule a consultation with one.
1. You Don’t Know Personal Injury Law Well
It’s completely normal for you to not know much (if anything) about an insurance claim after a car accident. Most drivers don’t because it’s their first accident—or first serious accident.
A car accident lawyer, on the other hand, has spent years of school and experience helping clients with these exact types of situations. They can take on your case and begin fighting for your right to full compensation immediately.
2. You Have Many Damages
Even minor car accidents can become really expensive. Your damages include losses like:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Vehicle damage costs
- Pain and suffering
Injuries can take time to manifest, so you may not realize how serious they are at first. Plus, pain and suffering damages are difficult to calculate and identify. A lawyer can look at the whole picture—including how the accident has impacted you—and help demonstrate the full scope of your damages to the insurance company.
3. The Insurance Company Denies Your Claim
If your claim gets denied or the insurance company sends you a very small offer, it’s time to call a car accident lawyer. They can help you appeal the denial or negotiate for a settlement that will actually cover your costs.
What Lawyer Deals with Car Accidents?
Personal injury lawyers deal with car accidents where you are injured by the driver who caused the accident. They offer legal services that include building and filing an insurance claim against the other driver and negotiating for a fair settlement. If you have been hurt in a car accident that you did not cause, a personal injury lawyer can help you seek compensation for the losses you’ve experienced.
Personal injury lawyers who focus on car accident cases are also called car accident lawyers. Car accident lawyers will fight for your fights to seek damages for what you’ve suffered. In a state like Georgia, you are entitled to seek recovery for all costs of the accident caused by someone else.
Getting full compensation for your damages is easier said than done. Insurance companies do not like to pay much on injury claims, so they will look for ways to deny your claim or offer you much less than you deserve, such as placing the blame on you, trying to get you to accept a lowball settlement, or making your injuries seem less severe than they actually are.
When to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer
A car accident lawyer can communicate and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. They can make sure your rights as an injury victim are protected. Your lawyer can also help you build the strongest insurance claim possible to seek compensation for the costs of your injuries, vehicle damage, lost wages, and more.
Almost every accident claim can be improved by working with a car accident lawyer. Many injury victims attempt to take on their case alone and represent themselves. This is possible, but it’s generally a bad idea. A car accident lawyer has the training and expertise to take on insurance companies who have their own teams of adjusters and lawyers at-the-ready.
Increasing Your Compensation Chances
Research shows those who have a lawyer get a much higher settlement, on average, than those who try to represent themselves. It’s clear having an experienced lawyer on your team gives you the best chance at the full settlement you deserve in order to recover your current and future costs.
Scheduling a Consultation
To find the best lawyer who deals with car accidents, you should schedule a consultation with a well-known and respected firm. Most car accident lawyers (like John Foy & Associates) offer the consultation for free, so there is no risk to you. During the consultation, you can tell them about your case and ask any questions.
The best lawyer for your car accident case will have years of experience handling situations like yours, the financial resources to take on your case, a strong track record of success, and good chemistry with you.
It’s important to feel comfortable and confident with any car accident lawyer you choose to handle your case. They should have your best interests in mind, listen to what you say, and keep you informed about the details and progress on your car accident claim.
What Does a Car Accident Lawyer Do?
A car accident lawyer ultimately fights for an injury victim’s right to compensation. If you were hurt in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you are entitled to seek damages for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. A car accident lawyer helps you do this—and that includes handling the insurance company responsible for your damages.
Car accident lawyers help you in the following ways:
- Understanding your rights: Most injury victims don’t fully understand what they have a right to claim after an accident. A lawyer can explain the full spectrum of your rights and answer any questions you have about filing an insurance claim.
- Expert legal advice: You might get a lot of opinions from different sources after your car accident, but the one that matters most is advice from an experienced car accident lawyer. They can help you make the best decisions towards financial recovery based on the details of your specific case.
- Negotiating your settlement: Most of the time, the insurance company will try to offer you a settlement that covers a fraction of your full damages. Never accept the first offer. Call a car accident lawyer who can negotiate on your behalf for a settlement that accounts for all your costs.
- Represent you in court: Most car accident cases are resolved during the first negotiation phase—but sometimes, the insurance company won’t budge. Your lawyer can help you decide whether or not you should file a lawsuit to try and get all the damages you deserve. If you do, they’ll represent our rights through every step.
Other Things a Car Accident Lawyer Does
A car accident lawyer will also help you in the following ways.
Investigating Your Case Completely
Your lawyer may call on certain experts to help with your case. An experienced lawyer with many years in personal injury law will have made various connections that can be used to help support your rights.
Your lawyer will also fully investigate all aspects of your case, including gathering evidence like witness statements, medical records, and pictures from the accident scene. This might include having experts help them recreate the accident scene and much more.
Assess All Your Damages
Without a good lawyer, it’s easy to leave a lot of money on the table. Many car accident damages happen after the accident—such as medical bills from injuries that need months or years of treatment. You don’t want to be left paying for costs from the accident just because they weren’t accounted for in your insurance claim.
Car accident lawyers are used to thinking outside of the box. They will consider all of the ways the accident has impacted your life—now and in the future. That includes emotional damages, loss of earning potential if your injuries affect the type of work you can do, and everything else that goes into your total damages.
Utilizing Medical Professionals
Experienced car accident lawyers will also develop strong professional relationships with certain doctors or other medical providers. This can help when assessing your physical damages from the accident and how they will affect your life going forward.
When Should You Get a Lawyer for a Car Accident?
Most of the time, it’s a good idea to get a lawyer for a car accident. Having an experienced car accident lawyer on your side gives you the best chance at full compensation for your damages like medical bills, vehicle repair costs, and lost wages.
You should get a lawyer for your car accident if you are worried the insurance company won’t pay for the full amount of your costs—which is an incredibly common problem in a car accident claim. An experienced lawyer will know how to help you build a strong case and negotiate for a fair settlement, so it’s best to reach out to them as soon as possible.
A Lawyer Has Expert Legal Knowledge
Car accident lawyers have the education and training needed to help you get the money you need. Insurance companies rarely make it easy to get the compensation you deserve—and it’s unlikely you’ll know the best course of action without having a legal eye on your case.
If the at-fault driver or the insurance company makes it hard for you to get the money you need to cover your costs, a car accident lawyer can help fight for your rights. When you have a lawyer, it evens the playing field and gives you the best chance at a fair settlement offer.
Calculating Your Damages
A lawyer will help you determine exactly how many damages you have from the accident. You likely have damages like:
- Medical costs
- Vehicle damage
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages, in some situations, such as drunk driving accidents
Most car accident victims don’t consider just how many costs they will have from an accident. You will need to include all damages from the accident—both current and future—in your claim. Your lawyer can make sure all of them are accounted for so you don’t get left paying for expenses you didn’t cause.
If you are worried about not getting compensation for all costs from your accident, you should get a lawyer immediately.
Doing the Work for You
A lot of investigation and research must happen to build a successful injury claim from a car accident. Your lawyer can help you compile evidence of the actual accident, the other driver’s fault, your damages, and more. They will know also know how to handle pushback from the insurance company, and they can communicate with them on your behalf.
Negotiating Your Settlement
The other driver’s insurance company often offers a lowball settlement right after you file your claim—and sometimes before. You should get a lawyer as soon as this happens because they will be able to negotiate for a settlement that is actually fair to you.
Advocating for You
As an injury victim, it’s important to advocate for your own rights to compensation. This is hard to do alone, however. A car accident lawyer can be your legal advocate by helping you make the best decisions for your case and communicating with all parties on your behalf.
From a minor to a major accident, you should get a lawyer if you feel like you will need help getting the money you need—and that includes almost all car accident cases.
How Do I Find a Good Car Accident Lawyer?
After getting into a car accident caused by another driver, you will need to file an injury claim for compensation. Most of the time, you will have the best chance of getting full compensation if you hire a lawyer. The right lawyer can greatly improve your insurance claim and uphold your rights as an accident victim.
You can find a good car accident lawyer by understanding what you need and focusing on the most important traits in the right lawyer. Here are six traits of a good car accident lawyer to look for.
Focus on Personal Injury Law
Any lawyer can take on a personal injury case from a car accident, but it doesn’t mean they will fully know what they’re doing. You will need to work with a car accident lawyer who focuses solely on personal injury cases. They are most likely to be up to date on current laws and an expert in accident claims.
Many Years of Practice
Your lawyer should have many years of experiencing working on car accident cases like yours. At John Foy & Associates, we are proud to have 20 plus years of experience helping injury victims win the money they need.
Proven History of Success
A good car accident lawyer should have a proven track record of winning settlements for injury victims, including cases with serious injuries and other damages. You want to know your lawyer has been there, done that with accidents similar to yours.
Has Enough Resources
It takes a lot of time, money, and resources to work on a car accident case. The right lawyer should be fully equipped to handle your case in every aspect, including financial resources and connections.
Would Take a Case to Trial
Most car accident cases never make it to trial. A good lawyer can typically negotiate with the insurance company for a fair settlement. However, there are times where the insurer won’t agree to a settlement amount no matter what you do. If that happens, you might need to file a lawsuit to seek the damages you deserve.
A good car accident lawyer should be ready to go with you to trial. They should be with you every step of the way and have the resources to prepare for the court case.
You should feel at ease when talking to the car accident lawyer you hire. You want to feel confident they have your best interests at heart and are seeking the best compensation possible. Pay attention to how you feel when you communicate with your lawyer and how attentive they are to what you say.
Finding a Good Car Accident Lawyer
There are several ways you can find a good car accident lawyer. Maybe you have heard good things about certain lawyers in your area. Research their credentials and reach out to them for a free consultation.
You might ask friends and family members if they have anyone to recommend based on past experience. If you know other lawyers who work in other legal areas, ask if they know any car accident lawyer to refer you to. Find out what it is about these lawyers that makes them worthy of such a referral.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit After a Car Accident?
For most car accident cases, you have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. In Georgia, the statute of limitations is two years, but it may vary depending on the state. If you try to file a lawsuit outside of the statute of limitations, you will probably lose all chances of seeking compensation from your accident.
You will need to take action as soon as you can after your car accident. There are many steps involved in the legal process, so two years can go quickly. Thankfully, you may not have to file a lawsuit at all. Most car accident cases are resolved far before you need to consider bringing a lawsuit for damages.
That being said, if you do end up needing to take the other driver to court, you will need the help of an experienced car accident lawyer who can represent you and give you the best chance at winning.
How to Build a Strong Case
You can increase your chances of settling before the need to file a lawsuit by doing the following:
- Documenting everything, including reporting the accident, taking pictures at the scene, and keeping track of all medical bills and other costs
- Talking to witnesses
- Exchanging information from the other driver
- Seeing a doctor for your injuries as soon as possible
- Not admitting any blame or apologizing to the other driver or the insurance company
- Contacting a car accident lawyer very soon after the accident
Thankfully, most car accident lawyers work on a contingency fee, so you won’t have to pay anything upfront—and only if your lawyer wins you money. This is the case whether you are able to win a settlement or you have to file a lawsuit for damages.
Comparative Fault in a Car Accident
It’s not uncommon for the at-fault driver or their insurance company to blame you for some (or all) of the accident. This is a common tactic to try to reduce their liability for your damages. In states like Georgia, you can still recover damages if you are less than 50% at fault—but it will be a reduced portion.
Chances are, you are not to blame for your accident. Don’t let the insurance company make you think you are. Talk to a car accident lawyer about your options. If it turns out the insurer won’t negotiate or offer what you deserve, your lawyer can help you file a lawsuit.
Bring a Lawsuit is a Big Decision
Before you file a lawsuit in a car accident case, you will need to go over the pros and cons of your lawyer. If it turns out a lawsuit gives you the best chance of getting the money you deserve, you will need to file it within the two-year statute of limitations.
That means the time is now to take action by contacting an experienced car accident lawyer in your area. You want to ensure you have plenty of time to get your ducks in a row and prepare for the complicated legal process.
Should I Hire a Car Accident Lawyer for a Minor Accident?
It’s easy to feel like you don’t need any legal help after a minor car accident. While there are some situations where you might not need a lawyer, there are many situations where a lawyer can improve your outcome after an accident.
You might need a car accident lawyer for a minor accident if:
- You have serious injuries and/or your other costs are high
- The other driver is fully blaming you for the accident
- The other driver’s insurance company denies your claim or offers you a lowball settlement
- You need to file a lawsuit against the other driver
- The thought of handling your own claim is too stressful or you aren’t sure where to start
Car Accident Injuries Can Get Worse
You might think a minor accident always means minor injuries or other damages—but that’s not the case. For example, rear-end collisions can seem fairly minor, but they can leave the victim with severe whiplash injuries that get worse with time.
Many car accident injuries might not show up completely until hours or days later. That’s because your body is in “fight or flight” mode right after an accident. Your body releases hormones that help suppress pain and push you through the stressful moments of the accident. Once those hormones wear off, the pain may appear full-force.
So, if you suffer any injuries after a seemingly minor accident, you should always 1) see a doctor and then 2) schedule a consultation with a car accident lawyer—just in case. A lawyer can give you an idea of how much your injuries and other damages will truly cost over time. You’d be surprised how much bigger that number is than it initially seems.
Insurance Companies Don’t Make It Easy
Another reason you may need a car accident lawyer—even after a minor accident—is the insurance claims process. Insurance companies often fight any personal injury claim, either by denying it or offering a lowball settlement. This can make it very hard to get the compensation you actually deserve.
Even if your damages aren’t huge, you deserve to receive the money needed to cover the costs of an accident you didn’t cause. Hiring a car accident lawyer will mean you have a legal professional on your team to stand up to the insurance company. That’s hard to be on your own.
You Can Schedule a Free Consultation
A big concern for car accident victims after the crash is cost. You may worry about hiring a lawyer because you’re already stressed about paying for your medical bills, missed work time, and more. Thankfully, most car accident lawyers (like John Foy & Associates) work on a contingency fee basis.
A contingency fee is not “paid” until after a case has been resolved—and only after the lawyer wins you a settlement from your injury claim or an award in court. If they don’t win your case, you don’t have to pay them any fees. When the lawyer does win, the fee is simply taken as a percentage of what they win for you.
You don’t have to worry about any upfront costs—plus, most car accident lawyers also offer a free consultation. That means you can discuss your case with them at no cost, and you don’t have to worry about any expenses until after your case is won and you have money coming in.
Can I Sue Someone Personally After a Car Accident?
If someone else caused your car accident, you can sue them personally—but you probably won’t have to. Most of the time, you will seek compensation for your damages through a personal injury claim. You will need to file this with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. However, there may be some situations where suing the other driver is the best option.
Reasons You Might Sue Someone Personally
You might end up needing to sue the at-fault driver if you are unable to get the compensation you need from a regular injury claim. This can happen if:
- The driver’s company refuses to pay a fair settlement OR
- The at-fault driver does not have sufficient insurance to cover your damages
Insurance companies are known for finding ways to pay out less on a claim. They might offer you a lowball settlement, try to blame you for the accident, or reject your claim. Most of the time, working with a good Georgia car accident lawyer can help you seek the settlement you deserve. But if that is unsuccessful, your lawyer might advise suing the driver directly.
You might also end up suing the driver is they do not have auto insurance—or they don’t have enough insurance. When you are hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver, your own insurance will usually kick in if you carry an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/IUM) policy. However, this will only cover up to a certain amount.
If your damages greatly exceed what you can get through the other driver’s insurance or your own insurance, the next step may be filing a lawsuit for the remaining costs.
What Happens if You Sue the Other Driver Personally
If you have filed a personal injury claim, negotiating with the auto insurance company is unsuccessful, and you decide to sue the driver for your damages, you’ll need to act quickly. In Georgia, you have two years from the date of your accident to bring a case. If you wait too long, you may lose your chance.
You should know that taking the other driver to court is not an easy path. If the problem is with the insurance company not judging on their settlement, you have a higher chance of getting them to settle before you must go all the way to trial. The driver’s insurance company will typically be on their side during the lawsuit, and insurers don’t like getting taken to court.
If you decide to sue the driver personally because they are uninsured and therefore can’t cover your damages, the situation is even trickier. Most uninsured or underinsured drivers do not have the out-of-pocket funds to directly pay you for your damages—which can total tens of thousands or dollars or more.
Work with an Experienced Attorney
You will also need to make sure you work with a car accident attorney who has handled similar cases to yours. Schedule a consultation as soon as possible to discuss your case and your options. If you already have an experienced lawyer, they will help you through every step of the process.
Who Can Be Sued in a Car Accident Case?
In a car accident case, you can sue the other driver for your damages. However, you will not have to do this in most situations.
The main way to seek compensation after your accident is by filing a personal injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. In some cases, you may be able to make a claim with your own insurance company (such as if the at-fault driver is uninsured or underinsured). If either of these is unsuccessful or not an option, then your best option may be to sue the at-fault driver.
Suing the Driver Versus the Insurance Company
Although you would file an injury claim for damages with the driver’s insurance company, you usually cannot sue the insurance company directly. Most states won’t legally allow it. But, if you do sue the at-fault driver, their insurance company is usually involved because they may be responsible for any settlement you win.
Plus, most drivers won’t have the amount of money required to cover damages from an accident—especially if you are trying to get compensation for an accident with an uninsured driver.
Other times, filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver may encourage their insurance company to agree to a fair settlement. If they believe you have strong evidence against the other driver, the chances are higher they will pay up to keep from going to court, which is expensive for both sides.
Your Legal Right to Sue
In Georgia, the victim in a car accident is legally entitled to seek compensation from the at-fault party by filing an insurance claim. This also gives you the legal right to pursue damages by suing the at-fault party.
You can do this even if you hold part of the fault—as long as it’s less than 50%. Your damages would simply be reduced by the percentage of fault you hold in the accident. If your damages are very high, suing the other driver may still be worth it, even if you are partially at fault.
To sue the at-fault driver in a car accident case, you will need proof that:
- They were negligent
- Their negligence led to your car accident
- And that your damages directly resulted from the driver’s fault and the accident
You can do this by gathering evidence from the crash, such as the police report, pictures from the accident, and witness testimonies. You will also need to compile proof of your damages in the form of medical records, pay stubs, doctor notes, and more. A Georgia car accident lawyer can help you do this, then assist you with building a strong insurance claim against the at-fault driver’s insurer. If you are able to demonstrate your damages well enough and your lawyer can negotiate for a fair settlement, you can likely avoid having to sue at all.
Thankfully, suing someone in a car accident case is not required. In most cases, you should be able to reach a settlement agreement with the insurance company and avoid having to
Can You Sue for a Rear-End Collision?
Yes, you can absolutely sue for your damages if you were injured in a rear-end collision that someone else caused. Rear-end accidents are often less serious than other auto accidents, so you’re less likely to need to sue.
However, some rear-end collisions leave you with a lot of medical bills, vehicle damage, and more. If the insurance company will not agree to a settlement that is fair, you may end up needing to sue for compensation.
The Legal Process After a Rear-End Collision
In Georgia and other fault states, the driver who was negligent in the accident is responsible for all costs, or damages. That means, if you were the victim in the accident, you have a legal right to file an injury claim for damages.
The at-fault driver’s insurance company may reach out to you in the days following your accident. They might offer you a lowball settlement—but you should never take the first offer. It’s never enough to cover all your damages. Plus, if you take any money or sign anything from them, you’ll lose any chance of pursuing greater compensation.
Most of the time, working with a Georgia car accident lawyer can help you build a strong insurance claim and negotiate with the insurance company for a fair settlement. If that is unsuccessful, you have the right to sue for your rear-end collision damages. Your lawyer will help you with this, as well.
Suing for a Rear-End Collision Accident
If the insurance company refuses to negotiate or if the at-fault driver does not have insurance, you may want to sue. Filing a lawsuit is a big step, and it requires a lot of work. You will need to begin building your case immediately—and it should start as soon as the accident happens.
Some ways you can gather evidence for your case include:
- Reporting the accident to the police, taking pictures at the scene, exchanging information with the other driver, and taking down the names of witnesses
- Recording everything you can remember about the other driver’s actions before, during, and after the accident
- Keeping clear records of all your damages, including medical bills, lost wages, and vehicle repairs
In Georgia, you will have two years from the date of the accident to file your lawsuit against the other driver. This time goes by quickly, so you should act now.
Filing the Complaint
When you have evidence of the accident, the other driver’s negligence, and your damages, you will need to file a complaint document detailing the accident, how you were hurt, and the damages you are requesting.
A car accident lawyer can help you with this process. After the complaint has been filed, the lawsuit process will begin. At this point, the at-fault driver and their insurance company will understand that you are serious about pursuing compensation for the damages you suffered.
Many times, a rear-end collision accident case still gets settled before it goes all the way to trial. Insurance companies do not like spending the time and money on the trial process, so they will be more likely to offer a fair settlement before it gets to that stage.
What Damages Can I Collect for a Car Accident?
In the state of Georgia, you are legally entitled to seek compensation for all damages resulting from a car accident you didn’t cause. Those damages include any losses you experience like the following.
Medical expenses often make up the largest part of a car accident claim. They include costs like:
- Medical bills
- Doctor visits and hospital stays
- Surgeries and other procedures
- Physical therapy or rehabilitation
- Prescription medications
Your claim will also need to account for any future and ongoing medical costs. You will need to see a doctor as soon as you can after the accident to get an idea of how serious your injuries are and how much treatment they will need.
Lost wages refer to work-related payments that you are missing because of the car accident. Most injured drivers will need to miss at least some work time as they get treated for their accident.
Lost wages can account for regular missed paychecks, based on your regular salary, as well as bonuses or other career advancement opportunities you may have gotten if you hadn’t been injured in your accident.
In a car accident, property damage usually refers to damage to your car. You can claim the costs of repairing (or possibly replacing) your vehicle after the accident. If other personal possessions were damaged during the accident, such as a watch, you can also include those damages in your claim.
Pain and Suffering Damages
Pain and suffering damages fall into a separate category of general damages. General damages do not have a set dollar amount, so you do not have to (and cannot) prove them through bills, paystubs, or receipts like with medical costs or lost wages.
Pain and suffering damages include any physical or mental suffering you experience because of your accident injuries. Any of the following could count as pain and suffering damages:
- Anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Fear or humiliation
- Disfigurement or scarring
If you can demonstrate pain and suffering damages, they can be worth a lot in a car accident claim—often two times or more of your total settlement. It usually takes an experienced car accident lawyer to account for these types of damages.
Wrongful Death Damages
If someone is killed in a car accident, certain family members may be able to collect wrongful death damages on behalf of the deceased. These damages can include medical costs, pain and suffering the loved one experienced before they died, funeral and burial costs, and loss of companionship.
To collect all damages from a car accident, you will need to file a personal injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. From there, they will respond to your claim and hopefully pay you the settlement you deserve.
Unfortunately, most insurance companies will try to lowball you or reject your claim. If that happens, you should call a Georgia car accident lawyer as soon as possible. They can help you negotiate a fair settlement and make any necessary changes to your claim.
How to Get Compensation for Your Damages
To seek the compensation you deserve, you will have to file a personal injury claim with the at-fault driver’s auto insurance company.
Unfortunately, insurance companies do not like to pay out money for car accident claims. They will look for any way to deny your claim or reduce their liability. Insurers may also try to offer you a lowball settlement upfront, hoping you will take it and end your case. But you deserve much more.
To increase your chances of getting the recovery you actually need to cover your costs, you’ll need to build a strong injury claim proving that:
- The at-fault driver was negligent
- Their negligence caused your car accident and your injuries
- Your injuries actually happened (and you have solid evidence of them)
Since personal injury claims can get complicated quickly, many Georgia injury victims turn to an experienced car accident lawyer for help.
How Fault Works After a Georgia Car Accident
Georgia is a fault state, which means the person responsible for an accident that results in injuries is liable for damages. In other words, the at-fault driver is legally responsible for the costs of your accident, which can include:
- Medical bills
- Prescription medications
- Lost wages
- Car repairs or replacement
- Pain and suffering
- Ongoing treatment, such as physical therapy
Under Georgia Code section 51-1-6, when a person or party who has breached their legal duty to act in a way that doesn’t harm others, the injured party can recover for that breach. That at-fault driver caused you harm—whether they meant to or not—which means, as the accident victim, you have the right to seek compensation for your costs.
pursue a lawsuit.
What Happens if the At-Fault Party Doesn’t Have Car Insurance?
If the at-fault driver in your car accident is uninsured, your own insurance may be able to cover some of your damages. If you purchased Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/IUM) coverage with your insurance policy, you should be covered. Most drivers have this, as it’s optional but you must uncheck a box to opt out when you buy your policy.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
UM/UIM coverage helps pay for your damages if the at-fault driver doesn’t have auto insurance—or has less than the legally required insurance coverage. Insurance companies must offer at least the following for this coverage:
- Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury coverage for $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
- Uninsured Motorist Property Damage coverage for $25,000 with a $250, $500, or $1000 deductible
If you carry this coverage and you were not at fault for the accident, your insurance should cover your damages up to the maximum. The same applies if the driver has some but not enough insurance—yours should cover the difference.
After the accident, you will need to file a claim with your own auto insurance company as soon as possible. Your insurance will then look into the accident and hopefully accept the claim. (If you run into problems, call a Georgia car accident lawyer immediately.)
Taking the At-Fault Party to Court
If your damages from the car accident are very severe, your UM/UIM coverage might not come close to making up for them. Your next best option might be to try suing the at-fault driver. You will need to discuss the pros and cons with an experienced car accident lawyer. Lawsuits are lengthy and expensive, and you will want to make sure it’s worth it.
Many uninsured or underinsured drivers didn’t purchase insurance for a reason: they believe they can’t afford it. This means there may be little money or resources to draw from by taking them to court. Also, this assumes you know who the driver is. If they left the scene after the accident, you will need to try investigating to find out their identity.
What to Do After an Uninsured Driver Accident
After an accident with an uninsured driver, you will need to legally protect yourself. You can do that as soon as possible—starting at the scene of the crash.
Here are some things you should do to begin building your car accident case and seeking compensation for damages from the driver:
- Call 911 to report the accident to the police: You must do this in Georgia if there are any injuries and/or over $500 in property damage. If the uninsured driver doesn’t want to call the police, do it anyway. You’ll need to protect your rights.
- Take pictures. Photograph the accident scene, vehicle damage, and your injuries.
- Exchange information with the uninsured driver. Ask for the other driver’s name, contact information, and insurance policy information (if they have any coverage at all.)
- Report the accident to your insurance. You will need to let your insurance company know about your accident, especially if you will need to draw on your UM/UIM coverage.
- See a doctor. You will need to get your injuries looked at as soon as possible, even if they are minor. This is crucial for proving damages in your claim.
- Contact a car accident lawyer to discuss the accident, your damage, and your options.
What Is the Average Settlement for a Car Accident?
It’s hard to give an average of all car accident settlements because they vary so much on a case-by-case basis. However, survey statistics have shown awards ranging anywhere from $3,000 to $75,000 with the average compensation for personal injury claims coming in at $52,900.
To know for sure what your car accident settlement should look like, it’s best to contact a car accident lawyer for help. When calculating a settlement, car accident lawyers look at a variety of factors based on the injured client’s damages and experience.
The Severity of Your Damages
Your damages are the biggest factor in your car accident claim. Since, in the state of Georgia, the person at fault for an injury accident is responsible for all damages, you have a right—as the victim—to seek compensation for all your losses. Your settlement will need to account for the seriousness of each of your damages, including:
- Medical costs from doctor visits, hospital stays, prescription medications, bills, surgeries, tests, and ongoing treatment
- Lost wages from time you’ve had to miss work because of the accident and your injuries
- Vehicle repair costs to fix damage to your vehicle or replace a totaled vehicle
- Pain and suffering damages, such as anxiety, depression, emotional trauma, disfigurement, fear, humiliation, or loss of enjoyment of life
The more serious your injuries and other damages, the more likely you’ll have a higher settlement. However, it’s best to talk to a car accident lawyer regardless, as they can often calculate and anticipate damages you hadn’t accounted for initially.
Pain and suffering damages can greatly increase a car accident settlement—but they are difficult to demonstrate without the help of a car accident lawyer. Your lawyer can help you build a claim that accounts for everything you have suffered because of the other driver’s negligence.
The Insurance Company May Fight Your Claim
Even if you have great evidence of all your damages, the insurance company may not make the process so straightforward—which can affect your total settlement amount.
To seek compensation, you will need to file a personal injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Insurers do not like paying out much for car accident claims, so they might try to:
- Offer you a lowball settlement, hoping you’ll take it out of desperation
- Contact you after the accident and use anything you say against you
- Place some (or all) of the blame for the accident on you
- Deny your claim altogether
To increase your chances of a higher settlement, you should contact a Georgia car accident lawyer for a free consultation if any of the above bullet points happen. If the insurance company is able to take advantage of your situation, you could be leaving hundreds or even thousands of dollars on the table.
To make sure you seek the highest settlement possible for your claim, consult with an attorney who is experienced in working with car accident claims. They can give you an idea of what your average settlement may look like, help you gather strong evidence to support your claim, and negotiate with the insurance company if they try to offer you a much lower settlement than you deserve.
How Much Should You Settle for After a Car Accident?
The amount of your settlement depends on many factors like your damages, the details of your accident, your insurance claim, and the other driver’s actions. The best way to know for sure how much you should settle for is by talking to an experienced car accident lawyer who can look at the details of your specific case.
Here are some of the damages that contribute to your settlement after a car accident:
- Medical bills
- Vehicle damage
- Lost wages from missed work time
- Pain and suffering
You have the right to seek compensation for all your damages if the other driver caused your accident. That includes both special damages and general damages. Special damages have a clear dollar value and must be proved in order to recover them, including lost wages and medical bills. General damages do not have a clear monetary value and refer to physical and emotional pain and suffering caused by your injuries.
You must have special damages to file a personal injury claim, but general damages can also be a part of your claim—and may make up a large portion.
Your Degree of Fault
If you are less than 50% at fault in a Georgia car accident, you may still be able to recover for your damages even if you were partially at fault. This would affect your settlement because it would be reduced by the percentage of fault you hold, and the other driver would be responsible for the rest.
Calculating Your Settlement After a Car Accident
There isn’t one formula for determining your settlement after an accident. Plus, every accident is unique and has varying levels of severity. However, a typical formula for calculating a car accident settlement goes like this:
- Add up all your special damages.
- Multiply the total of your damages by three.
A car accident lawyer can help you calculate what your settlement is worth in the most accurate way.
Other factors like impact your settlement include:
- The serious or your injuries (including whether or not they will be disabling)
- How large your medical bills are—currently and in the future
- How much work time you miss
- The total of your pain and suffering damages (if you have them)
- The other driver’s auto insurance policy limits and maximums
- How soon you see a doctor and get treatment for your injuries
The Insurance Company May Offer Much Less
You should also know that insurance companies don’t like to pay out the full value of car accident claims. They will usually look for ways to reduce your claim or deny it. That could be placing some of the blame on you, offering you a lowball settlement and hoping you’ll accept it, and more.
Don’t let anyone who isn’t a legal professional (and on your side) tell you what you should settle for after your car accident. You deserve to recover for the full value of your damages and what you’ve suffered. Before you accept or sign anything from the insurance company, consult with a trusted car accident lawyer who can help.
How Long Does a Car Accident Claim Take to Settle?
The exact timeline of a car accident claim depends on the details of the case. In general, it can take anywhere from a few months to several years for a car accident claim to settle. Some cases are settled fairly early, while more complex accidents with many damages typically require more time.
Factors that determine how long your specific car accident claim might take, from start to you getting a settlement, include:
- The extent of your total damages
- Proving liability and showing evidence of your damages
- How long it takes the insurance company to respond to your claim
- How long negotiation takes
- Whether or not you work with a car accident lawyer
Proving Your Injuries
To file an injury claim at all, you will need physical injuries. Your injuries and the losses associated with them are known as your damages. You will need to prove these damages in your claim. The better evidence of them you provide, the greater the chance the insurance company will accept them and be willing to settle.
If your injuries are serious, they may require a lot of treatment. This can take time, but you want to make sure you know how much they will cost you—now and going forward—before filing your claim. So, waiting to see how much your injuries will cost can delay the timeline of your car accident claim.
Besides your medical costs, you will need to get an idea of your total damages. This can take time, and it’s best to have a car accident lawyer to help you. The insurance company is more likely to settle your case sooner if you can provide sufficient proof of your damages.
Waiting for the Insurance Company to Respond
Once the insurance company receives your personal injury claim, they will have to respond to it by acknowledging they received it, sending a “Proof of Loss,” and either accepting or denying it. There is a deadline for this in Georgia, but insurance companies may still look for ways to draw out your claim. If this happens, it can, of course, take longer for your case to settle.
Negotiating Your Claim
When you do get an answer from the insurance company, you will need to respond. If they offer you a settlement, you can either accept it or try to negotiate for a higher settlement. If they reject your claim, you will need to fight for your rights.
While a car accident lawyer will help speed up this process, the negotiation phase can still take time. You don’t want to let that keep you from negotiating, though. You deserve to fight for your rights to full compensation of your damages.
Filing a Lawsuit
If the insurance company won’t budge on their decision, your lawyer may advise filing a lawsuit for your damages. This will further increase the time it takes to settle, but if you have a well-known attorney on your team, the insurance company is more likely to agree to a settlement before going all the way to court.
How Much Is a Rear-End Accident Claim Worth?
If you were in a rear-end accident, the value of your claim depends on your damages and other factors from your accident. Since a settlement can be so different from case to case, you will need to consider the details of your own accident.
Georgia Law Regarding Rear-End Accidents
In Georgia and most other states, the driver who was negligent or “at fault” in the accident is responsible for covering all costs from the accident. In reality, their insurance company typically covers these costs.
You will need to file an insurance claim against the at-fault driver for your damages. This claim will need to include proof of the accident, the other driver’s negligence, and all your damages resulting from the accident.
Special and General Damages
You may have both special damages and general damages from your rear-end accident. Special damages, also known as economic damages, can be easily calculated. They include:
- Medical bills, doctor visits, hospital stays, prescription medications, etc
- Lost wages
- Vehicle repair costs
- Travel to and from medical appointments
- Future treatment for your injuries
You will need to provide proof of these damages in your claim through your bills, pay stubs, receipts, and more. Your damages help determine how much your claim will be worth. If you have serious injuries, you will need to demonstrate future costs for ongoing treatment.
You may also have general damages, which refer to how the accident has affected your emotional health and quality of life. General damage can include:
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Anxiety or depression
- Loss of enjoyment of life
General damages happen as a direct result of your physical injuries from the accident.
The severity of all your damages also plays a part in how much your rear-end accident claim is worth. Although rear-end accidents tend to be less serious than other types of car accidents, that’s not always the case. Plus, some injuries from rear-end accidents can worsen with time—so you should closely monitor yours and see a doctor as soon as you can.
Calculating Your Costs
It can be hard to know how much your total damages are worth in your claim. Most of the time, you can get an idea of your settlement value by multiplying the sum of your special damages by a number between 1.5 and four. A Georgia car accident lawyer can help you determine what number is most accurate based on the severity of your damages and your accident.
Degree of Fault in the Rear-End Accident
The rear driver is usually at fault for a rear-end accident—although, there are exceptions. It’s best to look at the details of your accident and whose negligence led to the crash. If both drivers share a degree of fault, you and the other driver may be responsible for a portion of the damages, but you can still pursue a settlement if you are less than 50% at fault.
If you need help figuring out how much your rear-end accident claim is worth, schedule a free consultation with a Georgia car accident lawyer.
Will My Car Accident Lawyer Deal with the Insurance Companies for Me?
Yes, absolutely. In fact, having a car accident lawyer on your side during the insurance claim process is the best way to seek full compensation for your damages. An experienced lawyer can communicate with the insurance company for you and ensure you don’t get taken advantage of.
Why You Might Need a Lawyer
Right after the accident, the at-fault driver’s insurance company may try reaching out to you. They might ask how you are, feigning concern, and use what you say against you. Insurers also often offer a lowball settlement immediately and hope you’ll take it out of desperation. If you’re unsure how to handle these situations—as most car accident victims are—it’s best to have a lawyer who can help.
You probably also need a car accident lawyer if you have a lot of damages—and you may have more damages than you think. A good lawyer can help you calculate your total losses and prove them in your claim. This is hard to do alone, as it’s easy to leave money on the table.
A car accident lawyer is your safeguard against insurance companies who know you are vulnerable after an accident. Having legal protection means you don’t have to worry about what to say or how to approach communications from the other driver’s insurance company. They can help you in the following ways.
Speaking to the Insurance Company on Your Behalf
As soon as you hire your lawyer, they can talk to the insurance company for you. There’s no risk of the insurer getting you to say something that could be taken out of context or used against you. A lawyer who understands car accident claims will know exactly what—and what not—to say in communication with the insurance company.
Negotiating for a Fair Settlement
Most insurance companies aren’t quick to accept the settlement amount outlined in your injury claim. They may try to counter with a lowball offer or deny your claim altogether.
Your lawyer will not let the insurance company deny you what you’re owed from the accident. They will help you build a strong claim and then, if the insurance company doesn’t accept it, negotiate on your behalf for compensation that actually helps cover your damages.
Gathering Evidence of Fault and Liability
To file a successful insurance claim, you will need to prove the accident happened, the other driver was negligent in the accident, and that all your damages actually happened. This involves a lot of investigation, gathering of evidence, and compiling proof of your expenses. A lawyer can make sure you account for all of this.
Proving Your Damages
To prove some damages, you will need to request copies of documents like police reports and medical records. In addition, some damages like pain and suffering are very hard to demonstrate. A lawyer will know what you need to prove the full extent of your damages to the insurance company.
Instead of stressing about how to communicate with the insurance company on your own, you can work with an experienced car accident lawyer—starting immediately after the accident.
Do You Have to Go to Court for a Car Accident?
Most of the time, you will not have to go all the way to court after a car accident. A car accident lawyer can usually help you negotiate a settlement amount that is fair to you and helps cover your damages. The thought of going to court is scary for most people—and thankfully, most cases won’t get anywhere near a court.
There are some situations where you may need to go to court, though.
1. If the Insurance Company Won’t Settle
There are some cases where the insurance company may not budge on the settlement they offer you. You will have to decide what is best: accepting a lower settlement that doesn’t cover all your damages or taking the at-fault driver to court to try and get the compensation you deserve.
If the insurance company won’t settle, you and your car accident lawyer can file a lawsuit. This may mean you end up going to court, but even then, there are several steps along the way. A settlement is often negotiated in the stages before you actually get to court.
2. The Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance
In a normal car accident claim, you would file with the at-fault driver’s insurance company for your damages. However, some drivers, unfortunately, break the law by not carrying auto insurance. If the other driver does not have sufficient coverage, you may go to court in an effort to get paid for the damages they caused.
The problem here is that most uninsured drivers do not have many funds or assets to draw upon—so you will need to weigh the pros and cons of taking them to court with your car accident lawyer. Lawsuits are lengthy and expensive, so it’s best to only pursue them if you know there’s a good chance of winning what you deserve.
If you’re not sure whether or not your car accident claim may need to proceed to court, consult with an experienced Georgia car accident lawyer. They can advise you on the best next steps based on the details of your accident, the at-fault driver’s situation, and your damages.
How to Avoid Going to Court
There are things you can do to increase your chances of receiving a settlement before needing to go to court. Right after the accident happens, you should report the accident to the police, take pictures of the scene and your damages, and exchanging information with the other driver.
Also, make sure you do not apologize or admit any blame in the accident. Even if you think you might be partially at fault, wait until you have a chance to gather all the facts and talk to an attorney. You may still be able to file a claim for your damages.
After the accident, you should see a doctor as soon as possible for your injuries—even if they seem minor. Keep track of all damages you face, such as your medical expenses, lost wages, vehicle damage, and pain and suffering damages. Also, schedule a free consultation with a car accident lawyer so you can talk about your case with a professional and discuss a plan of action.
How Much Will It Cost to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
There isn’t one answer to this question that is true for everyone. That’s because every car accident case can vary so much. Most accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means their fee is a percentage of what they win you—if they are successful in your case.
You won’t have to worry about paying a car accident lawyer until after your case is closed, and only if they win you money. This is generally much better than an hourly wage or upfront flat fee, as it allows you to get legal help immediately without worrying about the cost. Then, when your case is done (and hopefully won), the lawyer’s fee is simply taken as a portion of your settlement before you receive the rest.
Average Car Accident Lawyer Contingency Costs
The industry standard for car accident lawyers is 33%—or one-third—of your settlement. Not every lawyer follows this exact structure, but most of them are very close to this amount. It depends on the state where the lawyer practices, how long your case will take to settle, and how complex your accident and damages were.
If your case goes all the way to trial (which is rare), the lawyer may take a larger percentage to account for the time and resources required. You can find out a lawyer’s fee for sure by scheduling a free consultation and discussing the details of working with them.
There are other costs often associated with a car accident case, including expenses for:
- Medical record copies
- Expert witness fees
- Court costs
- Transcript copies
- Deposition costs
- Legal research, postage, trial exhibits, and more
A car accident lawyer will usually pay for these costs at the time, then include them in the total fees taken out of your settlement at the end of your case (if they win you a settlement, of course).
When you schedule a consultation, you’ll need to ask your lawyer about how their fees work. You should also give them the details of your case and ask how they anticipate the outcome. Having an experienced lawyer can generally bring you a much better outcome than if you try to take on your case alone—especially if it is complex.
Other Fee Options
Besides the contingency fee, other lawyers sometimes charge on an hourly or flat fee basis. In these situations, the lawyer would have a set hourly fee or come up with a onetime fee based on the complexity and time they think will be required for your cases.
These fee structures are very uncommon for car accident lawyers. The only time they may use a flat fee is for one-off tasks like sending a demand letter. However, that’s not likely if you are looking for a lawyer to help with many aspects of your car accident claim.
The cost of hiring most car accident lawyers is nothing upfront. You don’t need to worry about paying anything unless your lawyer wins your money. Then, the cost is taken out of what your lawyer wins you—not straight out-of-pocket.
How Much Do Lawyers Charge for Accident Claims?
While there is no one cost for every lawyer who works on accident claims, most of them follow a similar fee structure. Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee, which means there is no upfront cost to start working with them—and they only take a fee if they win you money. This makes it basically “risk-free” to hire a lawyer to work on your accident claim.
A contingency fee would either be taken from:
- The settlement you win from an insurance claim after your accident
- An award you are given in court from a judge or jury
Since the lawyer only receives a portion if they are able to win money for you, it helps ensure they have your best interests at heart. A good outcome for you is good for them, too. It also means you don’t need to worry about paying anything out-of-pocket. You can focus on recovering from your injuries and handling the details of your case.
Average Contingency Fee Accident Lawyers Charge
The average percentage taken as a contingency fee for an accident claim is 33% (or one-third) of your settlement. However, depending on the lawyer, this can range from 25% to 40% for the contingency fee.
In addition, some lawyers may use a “sliding scale” structure where they take a smaller percentage if your case is resolved before you need to go to file a lawsuit and higher if your case goes to trial.
Flat Fees and Retainers
There are some situations where a personal injury lawyer may work on a retainer or flat fee, but this is rare. A retainer would be a certain amount of money requested upfront, sometimes in addition to the contingency fee taken at the end.
Other types of lawyers typically work on flat fee structures, but not usually those who handle accident claims. The only time a personal injury lawyer may use a flat fee is if they are performing a specific action for you where there’s not a whole case involved.
Other Accident Claims Costs
Besides the attorney fee often taken at the end, there are other costs your lawyer will face while working on your case. Most attorneys will absorb these fees and then collect them from your settlement:
- Filing fees
- Expert witness fees
- Photocopying and postage fees
- Medical record copies
- Depositions, transcripts, and trial exhibit fees
The longer your case goes on and the more complex its details, the higher your additional costs may be. You can talk to your lawyer about these fees beforehand during a free consultation.
After your case has closed, and if your lawyer wins you money, they will typically receive the settlement check directly. They will deduct their contingency fee and any other costs before paying you the rest of your settlement. This way, you don’t need to worry about directly paying for any of the lawyer’s costs.
When you first connect with a lawyer to work on your accident claim, ask them about how they charge you and how their fee structure looks.
What Percentage Do Accident Lawyers Take?
Each accident lawyer is different, but most follow a similar structure when charging for their services. Thankfully, most accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means they don’t charge a fee unless they win you money in your case. Then, the fee is taken as a percentage of your settlement amount.
The standard contingency fee percentage for most accident lawyers is 33% or one-third of the settlement. However, fees can range anywhere from around 25-40%, so it’s important to ask your lawyer about their fees during the consultation.
Some accident lawyers also work on a “sliding scale” basis, which means they might take a smaller percentage if you settle before going to court and a higher percentage if your case goes to trial. A lawsuit typically requires a lot more time and resources, so it makes more sense to take a higher percentage if you go to trial. Plus, if you win at trial, you’re likely to be awarded a lot more.
Other Fees and Percentages
Besides the percentage that accident lawyers take, there may be other potential fees involved. There are costs associated with injury cases like:
- Getting medical records
- Filing fees
- Expert witness, deposition, and court reporter fees
- Payment to experts or investigators
- Trial exhibits
- And more
Your lawyer will usually absorb these fees and take them out of your settlement—only if they win your case. They will usually take these fees out first, then deduce their contingency fee percentage.
While any accident case will have fees associated with work on the case, most lawyers will look for ways to reduce costs while still doing what is necessary to give you the best chance at a successful case.
You’ll want to schedule a consultation and ask questions about how each specific lawyer handles fees. You can also ask about when fees are due. Most lawyers do not require to you pay fees as they come, but it’s important to get clear on that beforehand.
Getting the Settlement Check
When your lawyer wins a settlement for you, they typically receive the settlement check directly. Then, they will deduce their fees for the services they provided before sending you the rest of your settlement. A good lawyer will keep you in-the-know about when they receive your check, will give you a list of all costs and what is deducted, and tell you when to expect your final settlement payment.
Many accident victims wonder if working with an accident lawyer (and their associated fee) is worth it. This is an understandable concern, but the truth is, hiring an experienced accident lawyer can make a huge difference in your case.
Insurance companies have entire teams of their own lawyers and insurance adjusters ready to fight your case. You can help even the playing field when you have a legal professional on your side to guide you. That will give you the best chance at the compensation you actually need and deserve to cover your total damages from the accident.