If you were in an auto wreck in Pennsylvania, you may wonder, “Do I need an attorney to handle my claim? What does a car accident lawyer do, anyway? ” Pennsylvania law doesn’t require you to hire a lawyer for your car accident claim, but hiring one may be in your best interest. A lawyer can give recommendations and conduct investigations into the reason for the accident and potential avenues for recovery. They also serve as your advocate and fight for your best interests. An attorney can also safeguard you against tactics that insurance companies use to persuade injury victims to accept low settlement offers.
Kalikhman & Rayz, LLC is a Pennsylvania personal injury law firm that champions the rights of car accident victims. Our team knows the ups and downs someone goes through after an auto wreck. Filing insurance claims and standing firm when pressured to accept an unfair settlement offer can be overwhelming for victims to do on their own. Our Philadelphia personal injury attorneys leverage our decades of experience successfully fighting for car crash victims’ rights to help them overcome the challenges they might face.
Can I Represent Myself in a Car Accident Case in Civil Court?
Pennsylvania law doesn’t force people to hire attorneys to represent them in a motor vehicle wreck lawsuit. But not having an attorney may put you at a disadvantage. After all, you have other matters to take care of, like getting medical help, healing from your injuries, and handling your day-to-day obligations. If you add unfamiliar and complicated legal issues to your plate, you may miss deadlines or reflexively accept an offer that’s much lower than what you’re entitled to.
Moreover, without a legal education to guide you, you might overlook laws that can help you. Pennsylvania law contains many exceptions and nuances that people often miss if they don’t have special legal training. If this happens to you, it might unnecessarily delay when your car accident settlement comes in. Or you might sign away your rights because you didn’t understand the fine print of the legal form the insurance company sent you. You can limit these potential pitfalls by hiring a seasoned and effective advocate to represent you throughout the case.
What Does a Car Accident Lawyer Do?
Before you jump in and hire an attorney, you probably want to know what a car accident lawyer does, anyway. After all, you’ll be paying them to help you, so you want to know what your money is going towards. Motor vehicle accident lawyers perform many vital services, such as:
- Conducting an investigation into the cause of the crash
- Performing legal research
- Seeking compensation for you
- Communicating with third parties on your behalf
Car accident attorneys also guide victims through the claims process to help victims feel in control of what happens during their case without feeling overburdened.
Conducts an Investigation
Lawyers conduct extensive investigations into the cause of the crash and the fallout. When necessary, they call on the help of an accident reconstructionist to help rewind the tape and find out what happened. Evidence that attorneys look for to help them build a case includes medical documents, police reports, photographs, video footage (if available), and eyewitness testimony.
The lawyers get the bulk of the evidence in the case during the discovery phase. For example, they might send written questions to the other party to get information about what they say occurred. Or they might question witnesses or experts in person through a process called a deposition. The attorneys use these materials to determine if getting compensation is possible and, if so, the best way to make that happen.
Performs Legal Research
Car accident lawyers spend a great deal of time researching Pennsylvania’s negligence laws and other statutes. The attorney uses the law to decide how to shape their legal arguments in court or at the negotiation table. Pennsylvania law also tells the lawyer how long the injured victim has to file a lawsuit against the liable driver. For example, Pennsylvania law typically requires victims to file court claims within two years. But minors and those who are incapacitated (e.g., because of a mental disability) may have more time. On the other hand, claims against the government usually need to be brought in less time and have additional requirements (like extended notice). Lawyers can identify these deadlines and other applicable laws to create an effective legal strategy.
Maximizes Your Chance of Receiving Compensation
At the heart of every liability claim is a request for compensation. Often, this, along with the need to be heard and secure justice, is the primary reason the victim decides to sue. Understanding Pennsylvania’s laws around compensation can be challenging for victims without legal training. Furthermore, they may not know how to appropriately respond to pressure from the insurance company to accept quick-fix settlement offers. Seasoned attorneys help their clients by identifying all possible avenues for recovery to maximize the chance that the victim wins their claim.
Communicates With Third Parties on Your Behalf
Another essential job that a car accident lawyer does for you is to communicate with third parties on your behalf. Answering calls and responding to emails or letters from those involved in a car crash can be disorienting. You may receive competing requests for information from the insurance company and at-fault party or their lawyers. All the while, you are trying to focus on recovering from the crash and resuming your life as best you can.
An attorney swoops in and takes the lead on the legal aspects of the case. They communicate with third parties on your behalf while keeping you up-to-date on the case status. If they need information from you before they can proceed, they’ll reach out to you. But you usually won’t have to talk to the insurance company or at-fault party if you have an attorney. This frees up your time and energy to focus on what matters to you.
What Are the Benefits of Hiring an Attorney for Your Car Accident Case?
Having a car accident attorney represent you during your case can provide you with immense value. They explain the law so you understand the legal jargon the insurance company might throw around. They advocate for you during negotiations to keep the greedy at-fault parties and insurance companies at bay. Finally, they represent you during the trial by presenting legal arguments and evidence that work in your favor.
Explains the Law So You Can Make Informed Decisions
Muddling through legal terms in insurance contracts, settlement offers, court papers, and online articles can be a tremendous undertaking. But the trenches of the law are where the victim will find an effective path to help them win their case. If you’re an accident victim, your lawyer can help you understand the law and explain it to you in a way that makes sense. Doing this ensures that you truly know your options and can decide what to do next.
Advocates for You During Negotiations
Despite what the insurance companies may tell you, they’re in it for the money, not for your best interests. Most decisions they make are to protect their bottom line rather than get you the compensation you need to move forward.
If you hire an attorney, they serve as your legal advocate throughout the case. By law, they must fight for your best interests. They can act as a buffer against tactics the insurance company may use to wear your patience thin. Your lawyer can champion your case and empower you throughout the process of fighting to get the compensation you deserve. They’ll also tell you if a settlement offer is a good deal or if you’re better off asking for more money.
Provides Legal Representation at Trial
Another benefit of having an attorney at your side is that they can represent you at trial. If settlement negotiations are unsuccessful, taking the case to trial may be necessary. The trial gives you the chance to tell your story and ask for compensation, using the evidence and the law to support your claim. During the trial, you (or your attorney) might call witnesses to testify and present legal arguments to the judge or jury. When the trial ends, the judge or jury makes a final decision.
Car accident lawyers understand how to prepare for trial adequately. They might also know what arguments tend to work and what ones do not. If you have an attorney, they can do the heavy lifting during the trial to help showcase the strengths of your case and the weaknesses of the opposing party’s arguments.
Kalikhman & Rayz, LLC: Car Accident Attorneys With Over 30 Years of Combined Experience
Experiencing a motor vehicle accident can be life-altering, causing you to experience devastating losses. But you don’t have to go through the claims process alone. With the help of an attorney, you can understand what your rights are and increase your chances of winning your case.
At Kalikhman & Rayz, LLC, we provide outstanding, award-winning legal services to victims of car accidents. Our attorneys are leaders in their fields and have helped many crash victims seek compensation for their injuries. In 2016, the American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys selected Lawrence Agunsday as one of the 10 best lawyers in Pennsylvania. Clients appreciate our professional, attentive, and caring approach to handling their cases.
If you were in a car accident in Pennsylvania, contact us today by calling 267-435-2426 to talk about your case.