Is it worth getting a lawyer for a car accident in Charlotte?
While it is, of course, your choice for whether or not to seek legal representation after a car crash, we would highly recommend that at least consult with a Charlotte car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
Your choices can drastically impact your recovery and right to compensation immediately after your accident. If you decide not to hire an attorney, in most cases, the insurance carrier will offer you the least amount of settlement money possible, hoping that you will go away.
Most carriers will make these offers within just a few days of the accident because they hope to take advantage of your ignorance. They’re hoping that you will not know the extent of your injuries, how you will be impacted in the long-term, and will not have a full grasp of your need for ongoing medical treatments.
Put simply, they are trying to get you to agree to a settlement quickly before you know how badly hurt you really are.
Because of this, not being represented by an attorney leaves you immediately vulnerable to these “nuisance value offers” that will prevent you from seeking further damages later.
You should focus on taking care of your injuries, repairing or replacing your vehicle, and handling your other responsibilities. You can have our attorneys handle every aspect of your case at no immediate cost to yourself — we only get paid when you win your case and receive compensation. So what do you have to lose?
When should you get a lawyer for a car accident?
Without providing legal advice, the simple answer is that you should always consult with an attorney after you have been in an accident. A free case evaluation can be the simplest way to ensure that you receive representation when it is most likely to be beneficial to you.
However, there are a few signs that could indicate that you should retain the services of a lawyer after a car accident in Charlotte:
- The Automobile Accident Resulted in Death or Serious Injury
You should consult with an experienced car accident attorney immediately if anyone was seriously injured or died due to the accident. These lawsuits are generally more complicated, and you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover the cost of treatment for your injuries. Additionally, you could also face a counterclaim, and the amount of potential damages awarded by the court could be very high. These cases involve many complex issues, and you will significantly benefit from the expert advice you will receive from an attorney.
- You Are Unable to Work or Need Long-Term Care
If the injuries you sustained prevent you from going back to work after your accident, you should consult with an attorney. In some cases, your injuries could prevent you from returning to a normal work situation for an extended period — and possibly forever. An experienced lawyer will know how to correctly calculate the compensation you are entitled to due to the amount of work you missed plus the cost of treatments needed immediately and in the future.
- There Were Three or More Vehicles Involved
When more vehicles are involved in an accident, everything gets more complicated. You have to negotiate Insurance claim settlements and possibly personal injury settlements throughout multiple lawsuits.
Additionally, some accidents involve property owners, business entities, and even pedestrians. An experienced attorney can help facilitate all of the communication and negotiation between all of the parties and their various insurance companies.
A Motorist Without Insurance Was Involved
Insurance claims get significantly more complicated if one of the parties involved does not have vehicle insurance coverage. Even though North Carolina requires people to carry insurance, that doesn’t mean they comply with the laws. An experienced attorney will know how to help you navigate all of your potential options to ensure that you get compensated for the damage caused.
- You Need to Establish Fault
In some cases, you may need to collect evidence to determine which driver was at fault and evaluate the compensation you are entitled to. Most newer vehicles come with a piece of technology called a black box. This box records information about the car accident, such as how fast you were going, if you were wearing a seatbelt, and other data that can be used by the court to correctly identify which driver was at fault. You will need an attorney to help you request this data for your suit.
- You Are Being Sued
If the other party is suing you after an accident, it is critical to seek a lawyer’s advice. Most car insurance companies will seek to offer a settlement to resolve the case quickly and for the least amount of money possible.
This urgency on behalf of the insurance company means that you could be brought to a settlement talk before going to trial. You should not settle for a low dollar amount simply to move the proceedings along. Most settlements will require that you give up some of your rights, and you need an attorney to make sure that you are negotiating in your favor.
- You Are Approaching the Statute of Limitations
We always advise that you seek legal advice from an attorney quickly after your accident. However, if you waited for a lengthy period after the accident, you could be approaching your statute of limitations. If you’re not sure what the deadlines are or think you may be approaching them, you should reach out to a lawyer and see your options. In some cases, individuals assume that the insurance company is going to pay, and they wait. But, in reality, the insurance company was simply waiting for the deadline to run out on the statute of limitations.
Is it worth getting a lawyer for a minor car accident in Charlotte?
It could be easy to think that you don’t need to file a police report or consult with an attorney if your car accident was minor. If it looks like the vehicles are okay, you don’t feel injured, and you’re just in a hurry to get home, you could be making a terrible decision.
There are a few things that you should do every single time, even if the accident was minor:
- You should always exchange insurance information with the other driver.
- You should take photos of all cars involved in the accident.
- You should get yourself checked out for injuries as soon as possible.
You should file a police report.
- Once you have left the scene of the accident, it becomes so much harder to get the facts straight and have the information that you need if you need to talk to an attorney later.
- Most people think that serious injuries only involve broken bones, head traumas, and cuts. We think of these life-altering, severe conditions that we would surely notice immediately after the accident.
However, many studies have shown that there are a wide variety of injuries that will not be apparent until days after the incident. The adrenaline rush immediately following an accident can mask many injuries that involve ligaments, tendons, or other contusions.
If you leave the scene without making a report to the police, your insurance, or both, it will be much harder to file a personal injury claim — even if you have a doctor on your side explaining your injuries.
At the Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor P.C. in Charlotte, we offer our legal services on a contingency basis — this means that you don’t pay any fees unless you’ve received your compensation. So, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain from consulting with our attorneys, even when the accident is minor.
What happens after a car accident that is not your fault?
Car accidents are pretty traumatic events — and even more so if they’re not your fault. You may feel shocked, frustrated, and confused about what the best course of action should be.
In most cases, your steps will not be much different when you’re not the one at fault:
- File a Police Report
You will want to file a police report while you are still on the scene of the accident — even if the other driver disagrees or drives away. You will explain the situation to the responding officer and let them decide which party is at fault.
This official report will help you hold the other driver accountable for the repair cost and damages, help you handle the insurance claim, and speed up the overall claims process.
- Make Notes
While you are waiting on the police to arrive, make a note of any information you remember about the car accident. This can include a quick map to show the direction that each car was traveling and the location of the crash.
You can also note the weather conditions and any other mitigating circumstances that affected the crash. Your notes can also include pictures of both cars so you can thoroughly document the damages.
- Swap Information With the Other Driver
Even if the other driver is not interested in swapping information, you must do so. If they do not provide their insurance information or contact information, you can note their license number and the make and model of their vehicle to provide to the police.
Additionally, you will want to collect information such as the names and contact information for witnesses or passengers and the responding officer’s name, contact information, and badge number.
- Contact Your Insurance Company
After an accident, you will always want to contact your own insurance company. They can explain the coverage you have for collisions, damages, personal injury, and medical expenses. They will also advise you on any available coverage that you have if the other driver is not insured.
Depending on the services required, your insurance company will pay for your repairs and medical bills. They will then work with the at-fault driver’s insurance to get reimbursed. In these situations, everything is billed directly to your insurance company, and you will not have to communicate with the at-fault driver’s insurance at all.
In a situation where your injuries are more severe than what your insurance covers, an attorney may advise you to sue the at-fault driver directly for compensation.
- Go to the Doctor
Even if your car accident was a minor one, you should see a doctor immediately. When you’re involved in a collision, the stress releases a spike of adrenaline that can mask pain and other severe symptoms immediately following the crash.
In some cases, it can be as much as several hours or even days before the symptoms, pain, and injuries appear. Typical injuries include concussions, Whiplash, spinal damage, and even soft tissue injuries. Some serious internal injuries such as swelling or bleeding can be life-threatening if you don’t receive treatment immediately.
It’s also essential to seek a medical practice with the training and experience necessary to treat auto accident injuries instead of your primary care provider. This provider could be an ER or similar emergency response facility.
- Talk With an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
As we’ve discussed throughout this article, you simply do not know what you don’t know. Many mitigating factors come into play when determining when you need to involve an attorney in a car accident.
The simplest way to avoid negative consequences is to talk to an Charlotte car accident attorney as soon as possible after the incident. We would advise you on the best course of action given your unique set of circumstances. It doesn’t cost you anything to get expert advice, so what do you have to lose?
Can I get a settlement for a Charlotte car accident without a lawyer?
Yes, it is possible that you could receive a settlement for a car accident without retaining a lawyer’s services. As we discussed previously, most insurance companies will offer a settlement quickly after a crash to resolve the case swiftly and for the least amount of money.
More than 3 million people get injured in car accidents every year, and around two million of those victims suffer permanent injuries for the rest of their lives.
Insurance companies are motivated to offer you the least amount of money possible to keep their businesses profitable. So, while you can receive a settlement without the help of a lawyer, you may not get a settlement appropriate to your injuries and the damage caused.
It doesn’t cost anything to meet with our attorneys and have your case evaluated. We would always recommend that as a first step before attempting to represent yourself. At least then, you would go into the settlement situation more informed.
Suppose you do decide to represent yourself. There are a few things that you need to keep in mind:
- See what the insurance adjuster is willing to cover after you have filed your insurance claim. You can assume that they are making a low offer.
- Negotiate with the insurance provider to see what they are willing to offer. Stay calm throughout this process and pay attention to what they are saying.
- Try to identify any problems with their position.
- Next, you can craft a demand letter. This is your opportunity to explain why you feel that their offer is too low.
- You will want to explain the extent of your losses and injuries in great detail and using actual numbers where possible. It’s unlikely that this letter will get you the full amount you were asking for, but it can move the needle in your favor.
- You can typically expect them to offer a counteroffer. At this point, you have to decide if you are willing to continue to negotiate and ultimately file suit or if you want to.
- If the case does go to court, do your research. Make sure that you understand the costs involved with filing a suit. This includes court fees, administrative fees, and income lost while you attend court dates.
What is a reasonable settlement for a car accident in Charlotte, NC?
While an average automobile accident settlement is around $21,000, it is most likely to fall between $14,000 and $28,000.
However, many factors come into play when you’re calculating the damages owed to you after an accident.
For example, your settlement amount will vary based on the severity of damage and injuries. The majority of auto accidents in Charlotte are caused by negligence and can potentially entitle you to different settlement amounts depending on who or what entity is determined to be at fault.
Some typical negligent causes for vehicle accidents include:
- Drunk Driving — According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), one in every three car accidents is caused by drunk driving in North Carolina every year. You are entitled to bring a car insurance claim against a drunk driver in North Carolina — even if that driver is already facing criminal charges.
- Distracted Driving — There are plenty of reasons why a driver may be distracted. This includes texting, playing with the radio, making phone calls, drinking and eating, and even chatting with other passengers. Distracted drivers can easily miss pedestrians, cyclists, road signs, and other cars — ultimately leading to an accident.
- Speeding — Whether a driver exceeds the posted speed limit or simply driving too fast for conditions, their reckless behavior can easily cause serious accidents.
- Defective Cars — Vehicles are relatively complex pieces of equipment. If there is a defect that compromises the car, it could cause even the most careful drivers to get into an accident. These claims are known as product liability claims because the defective part’s manufacturer could be held accountable.
- Roadway Negligence or Maintenance — Another cause for accidents is the roadway itself. Things like broken pavement, missing or broken guardrails, lack of sufficient lights or traffic signals, sharp curves, and other roadway design and maintenance can lead to severe accidents. In some cases, the agencies responsible for the road can be held liable.
The insurance company doesn’t have an exact formula when it comes to calculating car accident settlements. Suppose there was no personal injury, and you’re only seeking compensation for the damage to your car. In that case, you are typically only going to be reimbursed within your insurance policy limits.
Pain and suffering are only awarded in the case where you have been injured. This is why it is critically important to seek to be examined by a doctor, even in the case of minor injuries.
If you are injured, you can get a rough estimate of what you can expect from a settlement simply by adding up your expenses for your car repairs, medical bills, and lost wages — then you multiply that sum by three.
As always, you should consult with our attorneys to better understand what you are entitled to after an accident.
Contact our Car Accident Attorneys in Charlotte, NC.
Our team of personal injury lawyers, investigators and case managers are ready to serve you out of our Charlotte, NC office: