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An Oakland car accident lawyer is your greatest ally as you make your way through the post-accident paperwork, insurance claims and any related medical follow-ups. While your insurance agent may seem like an asset, s/he is actually part of a much larger network of lawyers and insurance professionals who are all interested in settling your claim as quickly as possible, with the least amount of expense.
Your personal injury lawyer, not the insurance company, has your true best interests at heart.
A single, free case evaluation, is informative and will support your future actions - even if you opt not to use the attorney’s services. It is a no-pressure, no-obligation conversation that has the potential to ensure you have a fair outcome and that any accident-related costs are covered for the rest of your life.
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Consult with An Oakland Car Accident Lawyer Before Calling Your Insurance Company
You have 24 hours to call your insurance company and report your claim. That window gives you time to connect with an attorney who specializes in car accidents and insurance settlements and has experience looking at the long-term outcomes of your accident to predict the actual funds needed to support you medically, emotionally, and physically in the months and years to come.
Our team of personal injury attorneys and legal representatives work around the clock to obtain the best outcomes for our clients, who include:
5 Reasons You Need to Consult with an Oakland Car Accident Attorney Right Away
1. Insurance Companies (even your own insurance company) Have Full-Time Legal Teams Working Against You
The other side’s insurance representatives are understandably working to diminish your experience. However, your insurance company is also working against you in their own way. Yes, you are their client, but the only way their industry is profitable is if the money paid to you is less than the cumulative money spent over the lifetime of your policies.
So, who is working for your best interests?
Unless you have your own team of legal professionals working on your behalf, you will never get the settlement you are owed for the entirety of your injuries and the total, lifetime damages that continue long after the accident was cleared off the road.
2. You Don’t Need a Major Injury from your Accident to File a Claim
One of the myths out there is that victims need to have a major injury to “deserve” an attorney. Those affected by an injury are naturally generous and say things like, “well, money doesn’t solve everything,” or, “I really wasn’t that hurt,” or, “some people have it far worse.” That is exactly how the insurance companies want you to think so they benefit from making a minimal payout.
However, there is so much more to the story when you are involved in an accident.
- Physical pain. While some injuries are more debilitating than others and require more extensive treatment, even seemingly “minor” injuries can cause physical pain or discomfort that lasts for more than a year after the accident.
- Medical bills. Medical charges add up quickly. A single ambulance ride, ER visit, surgery or medical treatment, even a brief hospital stay can easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars (or more in the case of severe injuries). These bills continue to grow as a result of any prescription pain medications, physical or occupational therapy, and future visits necessary to address long-term accident-related flare-ups. If the resulting injuries are serious, medical expenses can become a lifelong expense.
- Car repair costs. Your insurance company may not be willing to cover the expenses required to repair your car or may total the car altogether. While this results in some level of payout, the amount may not be enough to purchase a comparable, reliable car. If you had liability insurance, without full coverage, you are on your own for these repair costs without a fair payout from the other person’s insurance carrier.
- Lost wages due to time off work or an inability to maintain your job. Lost wages are more than the sum of the hours or days you had to take off work. Lost wages also lead to more cumulative financial loss in terms of lost retirement savings, a potential loss of health insurance or other benefit contributions, and lost interest generated on savings and investment accounts. In worst-case scenarios, the injuries or physical pain resulting from an accident can require victims to change their profession altogether, which can have an exponential effect on lifetime earning potential.
- Emotional damages. More difficult to quantify than physical injuries, emotional damages can be equally or even more debilitating, and they often occur weeks or even months after the accident. It takes time for the body to come down from the adrenaline and shock hormones that help you cope in the aftermath of a trauma. Once the nervous and adrenal systems return to “normal,” car accident victims often experience a range of mental and emotional responses that affect a person’s ability to work and participate in normal life. This includes things like anxiety, depression, high levels of fear or even a phobia of driving, being a passenger in another’s vehicle, grief, etc.
An experienced, Bay Area accident and injury lawyer understands the whole picture - as well as the long-term picture associated with car accident victims. We aim to ensure you are cared for in every way - not just the bottom-level settlement amount proposed by the insurance companies.
3. We Facilitate Communication with Insurance Claims Professionals
Remember we said that the insurance claims adjusters aren’t necessarily your allies? That’s because they can take even the briefest statements made in hours and days after your car accident and use them as evidence against you to make it look like you are at fault.
Things like, “I’m feeling fine,” or, “I’m doing well,” can be used to indicate you didn’t have injuries at the time. Statements like, “I can’t remember,” or, “I wasn’t really looking that way,” can be twisted to indicate that perhaps you weren’t paying as close attention as you should have been.
By calling an Oakland, California car accident attorney for a consultation before calling your insurance company, we can work with you to ensure your statements are 100% honest, but that they don’t incriminate you in any way.
We will stand by your side and do all we can to keep you informed, but are kept out of the time-consuming loop of constant communication and insurance paperwork. This, in itself, can bring incredible peace of mind at a time when your number one priority should be to take care of yourself, rest, heal, and ease into your life as the shock of your accident wears off.
4. We Assess Your Wellbeing Today, Tomorrow, and into the Future
According to the renowned Cleveland Clinic, the symptoms of whiplash (one of the most common car accident-related injuries) can in many cases can take days to emerge after a car crash, and this is true for other injuries as well. Or, you may have more severe injuries for which there is no way to predict how you will be in months or years down the road. Your lawyer anticipates those scenarios for you.
In the meantime, you may have already told the police, the witnesses at the accident site, or your insurance claims adjuster that “you feel fine,” or that you aren’t injured - only to find out later that you are more hurt than you realized.
Even small statements like these can come back to haunt you because they are used against you when you require medical attention in the days or weeks after the accident, or if you wind up reporting lost wages after needing time off for healing, medical appointments, or treatment/physical therapy.
Your attorney will not only ensure your heat of the moment statements are not later used against you, but will constantly be evaluating your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing in order to make sure you are receiving the best and necessary care for your injuries now and in the future.
5. Car Accident Lawyers Work to Keep Victims Out of the Courtroom
The thought of stepping foot in a courtroom, let alone having to relive a terrible and traumatic event because of the negligence of others can be enough to keep potential clients from reaching out for the support they deserve. The good news is that roughly 95% of all car accident and injury claims are settled outside of the courtroom and without a need for a judge or jury. Car accident and personal injury attorneys do their best to keep clients out of the courtroom if at all possible. Only in very specific circumstances would your case wind up in court and if it does, your attorney will minimize your participation as much as s/he can to protect your rights and your stress levels, and to maintain your normal, day-to-day life as much as possible.
What to Look For: Take Care Choosing a Car Accident Attorney
As you can imagine, not all car accident attorneys are created equal and not all are honest. In fact, some personal injury lawyers are the same as those insurance claims representatives we mentioned above - working on your behalf to get the quickest, minimum settlement that will make you happy, while actually conserving their legal staff’s time and the firm’s money.
Your attorney has an important role to play, and you want to find the one who is truly working on your behalf. S/he should be willing to:
Conduct a full investigation
There is a very good chance that a mechanical failure, traffic, weather or road conditions, etc., were the true “at fault” participant in the accident, rather than the other driver (or you!). Therefore, you need to work with a lawyer with a proven track record of accident investigations that look beyond the evidence or proof provided by the drivers and their insurance representatives to ensure the true cause of the accident is identified.
Facilitate medical treatment
Car accident victims are notorious for downplaying their injuries, pain and discomfort after the accident, especially when speaking to authority figures such as police officers, an angry person from the other car, or the insurance carrier representative. In fact, the insurance companies are banking on this reality.
Your accident attorney will continue checking in on you and encourage you to observe relevant appointments to monitor your health and wellbeing, and to ensure you’re getting treatment if needed.
By the time you contact your insurance company and your attorney, the accident has already been cleared. Your lawyer will obtain copies of the police report, witness testimonies and may recontact witnesses to conduct their own interview. We will go beyond the insurance companies’ standard “photographs of your car,” to make sure nobody (aka, the other side) is hiding potential evidence that would help your case further their cause. We will also search for other extenuating circumstances that may have contributed to the accident.
Negotiating with the insurance company
Insurance companies behave differently when their clients have hired an attorney. Once you hire a car accident attorney, it’s the attorney who “drives the train,” and the insurance companies work harder to meet the attorney’s demands, rather than the other way around.
From issuing the initial “demand letter,” to facilitating all of the paperwork and communication that takes place between your side and the other driver(s), your attorney will protect you from the age-old tactic of being led into responding with words or statements that work against you or minimize legitimate experiences and concerns.
Filing a personal injury lawsuit
All of the above takes place without any legal proceedings. If, however, the insurance company isn’t willing to settle at an amount that feels reasonable to you, your Oakland accident and personal injury attorney takes it to the next level, filing and facilitating your lawsuit.
Again, this does not mean that you will ever have to go to court. Often, the very act of filing a personal injury lawsuit alerts the insurance company that you mean business and that catalyzes their settlement offer that meets your expectations.
Choose a Car Accident Lawyer You Trust
While bold commercials and power statements are compelling, you’ll be working very closely with your attorney through the duration of your insurance claim and a potential lawsuit. It’s important that in addition to the right education, experience, and a solid professional reputation, that you also feel good about your attorney’s personality and demeanor during your meeting(s).
If you don’t like your attorney and/or you don’t feel you can trust him/her, then don’t get into a contract no matter how good the firm is supposed to be. Reach out to more than one attorney to get a feel for their personality and approach, and then choose a lawyer you can trust.
Burneikis Law specializes in automobile accident and injury cases in Oakland and the greater Bay Area, and throughout the state of California. We work hard on behalf of our clients and their families, and we do not take trustworthiness for granted. Contact us now to schedule your free, case evaluation, and to see if we are a good fit with a Phone call to (510) 328-3238 or Email firstname.lastname@example.org.