Navigating the legal system is complicated, especially if you have been injured in a car crash. While the insurance company might proceed as though they can process your claim by communicating with you directly, it is always in your best interests to hire an accident lawyer in Houston, TX. Many people are worried that getting a lawyer will necessitate a time-consuming court battle, but in reality, having legal representation can often lead to a favorable settlement outside of court.
If I Get an Accident Lawyer, Will I Have to Go to Court?
Hiring a lawyer to provide legal services after you have been injured in a car accident does not necessarily mean you will need to go to court. In fact, most car accident cases end in a settlement rather than a trial. A settlement is an agreement between you and the insurance company that is liable to pay for your damages. If the other driver was at fault for the accident, his or her insurance company would be the liable party.
When you accept a settlement offer from an insurance company, you relinquish your right to take the matter to court in exchange for a sum of money. The amount of money you receive from the settlement might be more or less than the amount you could receive from a jury verdict. If you hire a lawyer, his or her goal will be to explain the process and maximize the amount of money you receive.
How Can Working With a Lawyer Increase My Settlement Offer?
Representing Your Interests
Insurance companies are for-profit businesses that increase their profits by minimizing the amount of money they pay to settle their claims. Regardless of how cordial their representatives seem, they are not acting in your interests and will encourage you to accept the least amount of money possible. Having your own lawyer will put pressure on the insurance company to pay you an amount that is reasonable given the severity of the accident.
The insurance company will not take the time to look into the details of your accident to make sure that all of your damages were included in the settlement. It is in their interests to overlook some of the allowable damages, thereby decreasing the value of the claim. Your lawyer, on the other hand, will use his or her knowledge of personal injury law to make sure the insurance company is fully aware of the extent of your losses.
When you meet with your lawyer, he or she will ask you questions about your medical bills, your lost wages, and how the accident affected your life. The questions might be very specific. For example, your lawyer might ask if you were eligible for any commissions or bonuses before you were forced to take time away from work to recover. All of the questions are intended to elicit information that can make your claim more valuable.
The insurance company will only be incentivized to pay you a reasonable amount of money if they believe your case will hold up in court. Therefore, your lawyer will help you gather evidence to show that you were not at fault for the accident and that you actually experienced the damages you list on your claim. Acceptable evidence can include:
- Medical records
- Videos and pictures from the accident
- Surveillance footage
- Physical damage to the vehicles
- Witness statements
- Your financial records
Issuing a Demand Letter
Your lawyer might begin the process of pursuing compensation by issuing a demand letter to the other driver’s insurance company. First, the demand letter will outline all of the damages you and your lawyer identified. Then, it will state that the insurance company is responsible for paying you an amount of money equal to the value of the losses. Upon receiving the letter, the insurance company can respond with a settlement offer.
Negotiating With the Insurance Company
Your lawyer will help you review the settlement offer before you accept it. If the amount is too little, he or she will go back to the insurance company to negotiate for an increase.
During the negotiations, your lawyer will point to the evidence in your favor, telling the insurance company that if they do not pay you a fair settlement, a court will likely obligate them to meet your demands. Insurance companies often respond to this type of pressure by increasing their settlement offer in order to avoid a costly court battle.
When Is It in Your Best Interests to Go to Court?
When the Insurance Company Won’t Pay
Sometimes, even the most persuasive lawyers may be unable to compel a stubborn insurance company to honor a claimant’s right to receive fair compensation. In that case, your lawyer might advise you to take your claim to trial. If the jury issues a verdict in your favor, the insurance company will be legally obligated to pay the amount specified by the court.
The insurance company will only feel pressured by the full negotiating power of your lawyer if they sense that he or she is willing to litigate on your behalf. Therefore, you should choose a lawyer who has a track record of taking some cases all the way to trial and winning.
When the Other Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance
In Texas, drivers are legally required to have minimum coverage for any injuries they might cause other drivers or pedestrians. Unfortunately, some people still operate as uninsured or underinsured drivers.
If the driver who hit you does not have a policy that will cover your damages, your lawyer will help you look into options for using your own policies, such as personal injury protection or underinsured motorist coverage. When all options for covering the costs of the accident through insurance fail, your lawyer might advise you to file a personal injury lawsuit against the other driver if that driver can be found.
Weighing Your Options
The process of settling outside court works because, in most cases, all parties want to avoid a trial. The insurance company is incentivized to pay the claimant an appropriate amount of money in order to reduce legal expenses. Claimants are incentivized to accept settlement offers because resolving matters outside of court means avoiding the time and hassle of going to trial.
If you receive a low offer, your lawyer will help you decide whether or not to go to trial. The advantage of going to court is that you could potentially receive a higher payout. The risk is that if the jury sides with the insurance company, you may not receive anything. You can feel more comfortable going forward with the trial if your lawyer has successfully secured large court-ordered payouts for clients in the past.
Getting Legal Support From an Accident Lawyer in Houston, TX
Having legal representation can increase your chances of recovering compensation for your damages whether your claim resolves in or out of court. In most cases, the threat of taking the insurance company to court alone can result in a fair settlement offer, without either party ever having to go to trial. To find a lawyer who will work to get you maximum compensation for minimal time and legal fees, contact Houston Injury Lawyers PLLC.