Do I Need a Car Accident Lawyer?

A gavel sits between car shapes, hinting at a legal car-related issue.

It seems like all you see are signs and advertisements telling you that you must hire a lawyer after a car accident injures you. You hear that lawyers near you can deliver results for you and fight to get every dollar you deserve. While not every car accident lawyer in Bakersfield is created equal, the need for legal representation is clear in your car accident case. An attorney places you in a much better legal position than someone trying to get money themselves after a car accident.

In a car accident case, you should not ask whether you hire a lawyer. You should ask which attorney you should hire to handle your case. If you want to save money or take shortcuts by not hiring a lawyer, it will come back to hurt you sooner rather than later.

The Car Accident Legal Process in a Nutshell

The legal process after a car accident in every case generally follows the same process: 

  • The insurance companies determine fault in the accident depending on what the policyholder tells them and the evidence your lawyer provides
  • The other driver’s insurance company may make you a settlement offer, which will usually be too low
  • Your car accident attorney can provide additional information to support the amount of compensation you deserve and try to negotiate a higher settlement
  • You can file a lawsuit in court against the responsible driver at any time, regardless of whether you filed an insurance claim

Many car accident claims settle directly with insurance companies, but some insurers refuse to make a fair offer. You want a strong negotiator and with litigation experience in case you need to file a lawsuit.

Insurance Companies Make Your Life More Difficult in a Car Accident Case

While the legal process seems simple and straightforward, many complicated things need to happen before you recover financial compensation.

You are dealing and fighting with an insurance company that wants to earn profits and not give you the money that you deserve.

They will use every tactic in the book to avoid having to pay you, including:

  • Denying your claim entirely in the absence of airtight evidence that conclusively proves that their driver was liable (even though the legal standard in a civil case is that you need to prove your claim by a preponderance of the evidence)
  • Trying to pressure you into giving a statement about what happened in the accident, even though you have no obligation to speak to them at all (they may even use dishonest and underhanded methods to try to get you to talk, even when you do not have to)
  • Trying to settle your case for pennies on the dollar, using their entire toolbox of tricks to wear you down and make you feel grateful for getting even anything from them
  • Delaying your case to make you more desperate, including taking a long time to respond to your claim in the first place and then making you low settlement offers

Many people assume insurance companies will help them, only to find an adjuster taking advantage of them and putting them through the wringer.

You Cannot Rely on the Insurance Company to Do the Right Thing

You should understand how badly the deck can be stacked against you in a car accident case. The insurance company has an entire strategy they built over time to get away with underpaying you (or not even paying you at all). They have adjusters, actuaries, and attorneys on retainer whose job is to save the insurance company money. In many cases, they succeed, but only when accident victims let them get away with it.

You can take control and put your fate in your own hands.

When you hire a car accident lawyer, it gives you:

  • Knowledge of the legal process and your options for pursuing compensation
  • Knowledge of the amount of money that you can possibly get in a settlement or from a jury
  • The power to go toe-to-toe with the insurance company when they are trying to use their usual tactics against you

The Insurance Company Can Run Roughshod Over You on Your Own

A lawyer will exercise your legal rights. With a lawyer, nobody can deny reality, as much as they may try.

If you handle your own case, you appear more as a supplicant who comes to the insurance company with your hat in hand. They expect you to gratefully accept any crumbs they throw your way and thank them for their kindness.

Things should not work that way. Instead, you can approach the insurance company knowing that you have a legal entitlement to full financial compensation for your injuries in your accident. The insurance company acts in the stead of their policyholder, so they are the ones who must pay you. A lawyer can demand what you deserve (even sending a demand letter).

Your attorney’s first major role in your case is to gather the necessary evidence to prove your car accident claim. You have the legal obligation to prove someone else’s negligence. If you fail to meet your burden of proof, you will not get any money.

Your Car Accident Attorney Can Help You Prove Your Case

However, you do not know how to gather car accident evidence. As much as some people tell you that you can begin to assemble your case at the accident scene, it is incredibly difficult to take pictures and interview witnesses when dealing with both the shock of an accident and physical injuries.

It is difficult for you to remain calm and think of your legal case when your body has been traumatized and you are in pain. The whole reason to file a car accident claim is because you suffered an injury.

Evidence is vital in any car accident claim. You must prove that the other driver acted unreasonably under the circumstances by a preponderance of the evidence. You need this evidence with your claim to begin talking about settlement. It is your lawyer who assembles your claim.

They can gather:

  • Witness testimony from people who saw the accident
  • Pictures from the scene of the accident (that you or someone else took right after the crash or that your lawyer rakes afterward when they are beginning to investigate)
  • Dashcam or traffic camera footage from you or someone else in the vicinity
  • The police report written by the officer who came to the scene of the accident
  • Testimony from an accident reconstruction expert who gives their opinion about who caused the accident

Your Lawyer’s Representation Can Keep the Insurance Company Honest

Insurance companies go right to work on you immediately after the accident. They are smart, and they know when they have a potential problem on their hands. They will go right to their standard playbook to start beginning to try to minimize their own liability.

When the insurance company knows you have a lawyer, they know they must act differently. They understand that they can get in trouble themselves if they try to take things too far.

The threat of litigation often makes the insurance company fall into line. Litigation is a high cost for an insurance company. Your lawyer will work for you on a contingency basis. You are not paying them by the hour or even a flat fee for the case. The insurance company is paying an insurance defense firm to represent them (or their lawyers, who they are also paying). The insurance company often does not want to go to court. They know that juries can be hostile, and they can incur tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees to defend their policyholder.

Without a lawyer, you do not have a credible threat of litigation. You can bluster and threaten, but the insurance company knows that, in the end, you will need to take what they give you. With an experienced car accident lawyer on your case, you suddenly take on a different importance to the insurance company.

How a Car Accident Lawyer Represents You During a Lawsuit?

If your case goes to court, having a lawyer is critical. You have a much better chance of winning with a lawyer than on your own. Litigation is a highly complex process, and you want a car accident attorney with experience handling lawsuits. They will navigate the process for you and engage in settlement negotiations on your behalf.

If your case does go to court, your lawyer will:

  • Draft the lawsuit complaint that begins the court process and serve it on the other party
  • Respond when the insurance company’s lawyers try to have your case dismissed by the judge
  • Gather additional evidence in the discovery process and defend you when the insurance company’s lawyer subjects you to a deposition
  • Argue your case in front of a jury, presenting both your evidence of liability and proof of your damages

Even Most Lawsuits Will End in a Settlement

Even if your case has reached the lawsuit stage, it does not mean you are going to court. Lawsuits are often just another step along the way in your legal process.

Chances are your lawyer will continue to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company while your case is moving through litigation unless the insurance company is completely unwilling to budge. Most personal injury cases do not go to trial; yours is likely no exception.

Once your case has passed one of several critical milestones, settlement discussions can intensify. For example, if the insurance company fails to get the court to dismiss your case, they know they will need to undergo an arduous and expensive discovery process. They can make you a settlement offer at that point.

The insurance company can make you a settlement offer when they see that you have built up a strong case through discovery. The insurance company is all about risk and continuously recalculates its risk during the legal process. They may be more motivated to settle with you if they see they are in trouble. However, you likely might never have reached that point without a car accident lawyer who can build and advance your case.

Insurance Companies Fear Car Accident Lawyers Who Can Get Results

Mickey Fine, Car Accident Lawyer near Bakersfield, CA area

Mickey Fine, Car Accident Attorney in Bakersfield

Insurance companies know the lawyers with whom they are dealing. They have been up against the same lawyers many times. They know who does what in each case. Not that the most aggressive lawyer always wins the most, but the insurance company understands each lawyer’s tactics and who they need to fear the most. Insurance companies build up an institutional memory over time.

Every lawyer will tell you that they fight hard for you. When you know little about the legal process, it is hard to distinguish between lawyers. You should speak to family and friends and review online sources that review attorney services. If an attorney is highly-reviewed, chances are that they have a record of delivering results for their clients.

Car accident lawyers hold insurance companies accountable during the legal process. They are a check against a company that acts like it has unchecked power.

If you or a loved one have suffered an injury in a car accident, contact an experienced lawyer today. You will not need to pay them anything upfront, nor do you need to pay them anything at all if you do not receive money in your case.

There is nothing to lose and everything to gain by hiring one of the personal injury law firms near Bakersfield for your case.

Car Accident
by Mickey Fine Law
Last updated on - Originally published on