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Why You Need a Lawyer for a Car Accident in San Diego

Offered by Law Offices of Ronald B. Laba

Protect your rights while you focus on getting better

Car accidents happen every day in San Diego and throughout Southern California. People are rear-ended in traffic on I-5 and I-8 or T-boned at dangerous intersections like Broadway and 5th Avenue. An accident happens at a single moment in time, but the consequences can last a long time, especially if you have a lingering or permanent injury.

Auto insurance is supposed to cover the cost of a car crash, but insurance companies work hard to protect their own financial interests – which means paying accident victims as little as possible. Here’s why it’s in your interest to hire a San Diego car accident attorney.

An attorney can investigate your accident to build your case

The only way to get an insurance company to pay up is to present a strong case built on evidence. That includes physical evidence from the crash scene, such as pictures of skid marks and vehicle damage. It also includes statements from witnesses to the accident. In addition, an attorney will pore over important records such as the official accident report prepared by the San Diego Police or the California Highway Patrol.

Experienced attorneys know how to cross-reference witness statements and analyze conflicting evidence to get to the bottom of what happened – and who was responsible. They also have the resources to hire experts, such as an accident reconstructionist, when necessary.

An attorney can identify the party or parties responsible for your accident

Careless or negligent drivers cause most car accidents, but other parties can also be liable in some circumstances. For example, perhaps a defective vehicle played a role in your crash, or maybe the dangerous design of a driveway, parking lot, or drive-through contributed to the collision. Only an experienced car accident attorney can conduct a thorough investigation and identify every potentially liable party.

This is important because the amount of insurance available to pay for your injuries can vary widely depending on the circumstances. California’s minimum bodily injury liability insurance is quite low – just $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident – so finding additional available coverage can be a game-changer. An attorney who puts in the effort to identify every possible source of compensation can make a big difference in your recovery.

An attorney can negotiate with the insurance company and protect your rights

Again, it’s safe to assume that the insurance company is looking for ways to protect its financial interests, and any actions they take are intended to serve that purpose. For example, if the insurance company asks you to sign a medical release, perhaps saying they just want to look at your post-accident medical evaluation, always review it with a lawyer first. Often, these releases are worded very broadly to allow the insurance company to comb your medical records looking for pre-existing conditions.

The same principle applies to giving a statement about the accident. Giving a recorded statement to an insurance company without talking to a lawyer first is never a good idea; you only have one chance to get it right, and any recording can be taken out of context and used against you. An attorney can help you craft a written statement that accurately tells your side of the story – and protects your rights.

When you hire a car accident lawyer, one of the first things they will do is notify the insurance company or companies that you are now represented by counsel, and thus they cannot contact you directly. From that point forward, any communications from the insurance company must go to your lawyer first. That means your attorney can protect your rights and negotiate with them on your behalf while you focus on your health.

An attorney can calculate the full value of your compensation

Remember, the cost of a car accident can ripple throughout your life, affecting your finances and overall quality of life in myriad ways. An attorney can gather information and calculate the full cost of your injuries, including but not limited to the following:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Medication and medical devices
  • Lost wages and lost future income
  • Replacement services (e.g., childcare, home maintenance) 
  • Modifications to your home or vehicle to accommodate a disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of quality and enjoyment of life
  • Loss of consortium

An attorney can review any settlement offer from an insurance company

Once you accept an insurance settlement, that’s it. Your case is settled, meaning you can’t go back for more money even if your costs turn out to be significantly higher than you thought. That’s why insurance companies often make a settlement offer soon after the accident before the full cost is known. Again, they’re doing this to save themselves money – if they can get you to accept a “lowball” figure, they end up paying less than the full value of the claim.

That’s why you should never accept an insurance settlement without talking to a lawyer first. An experienced car accident attorney can review the settlement offer and advise whether it’s in your interest to accept it. Often, it’s possible to negotiate for more – and the right lawyer can do so on your behalf.

An attorney can take your case to trial, if necessary

Most car accident claims are settled out of court, so it’s unlikely that your case will actually go to trial. The important thing is that your attorney can take your case to trial if that’s what is needed to get full compensation. Insurance companies know this, so they tend to offer bigger settlements to people who hire trial lawyers. They know the risk is much greater if they go to trial and lose.

In other words, hiring a trial lawyer puts maximum pressure on the insurance company to pay the full value of your claim. Having an attorney keeps all your legal options open if the insurance company decides to be difficult.

Remember, there is no cost to talk to a lawyer and no fee unless you win

If you’re worried about the cost of hiring a lawyer, remember that car accident attorneys work on a contingency fee. That means you don’t pay your attorney out of pocket; their fee is a percentage of your eventual recovery via a settlement or verdict. If you don’t win your case, you don’t pay. Studies have shown that people who hire attorneys recover more than those who don’t, even considering the attorney’s fee – so the real question is whether you can afford not to hire a lawyer.

Insurance companies have attorneys protecting their interests; you should be doing the same. If you were injured in a car accident in San Diego, schedule your free consultation with an experienced attorney today.

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Law Offices of Ronald B. Laba
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Founded by attorney Ronald B. Laba, our San Diego law firm aggressively pursues compensation for injury victims in Southern California. We handle car accidents, truck accidents an...