When you have an insurance claim, it is important to make sure you receive the full compensation you deserve. This means you should hire a Modesto auto accident lawyer to represent you. This article explains 10 reasons why.
Lots of people try to handle their auto accident claims on their own. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these people end up receiving only a small fraction of the financial compensation they deserve—and in most cases they never know what could have been. If you are wondering whether you should hire a Modesto auto accident lawyer, you need to know that there are lots of ways a lawyer can help you, and there is virtually no benefit to trying to handle your claim without legal representation.
10 Things a Modesto Auto Accident Lawyer Can Do that You Can’t Do On Your Own
What exactly can a lawyer do to help? Here are 10 things a Modesto car accident lawyer can do that you can’t do on your own:
1. Conduct an On-Scene Investigation
When you are involved in an auto accident, taking photos at the scene of the crash is an important step, but it is just the first step in the process of conducting an exhaustive on-scene investigation. When you hire a Modesto auto accident lawyer to represent you, your lawyer will send an investigator to the scene in order to:
- Collect any remaining physical evidence
- Take measurements
- Examine traffic patterns
- Examine damaged signs, power poles, guardrails, and other items
- Thoroughly document all aspects of the crash site
Filing a successful claim requires as much evidence as possible, and you cannot rely on the insurance company’s investigation. As a result, it is imperative that you engage a lawyer to investigate promptly.
2. Obtain Video Footage
In addition to sending an investigator to the scene of your auto accident in Modesto, your lawyer will seek to collect evidence from other sources as well. One increasingly-common source of evidence is video footage. This includes:
- Intersection camera footage
- Traffic camera footage
- Security camera footage from nearby businesses
- Police patrol car dash camera footage
- Cell phone footage recorded by witnesses
If your auto accident was recorded, the footage of the accident could be the strongest evidence in support of your claim for damages. So, it is essential that you hire a lawyer to track down and secure this footage if it is available.
3. Obtain Other Forms of Evidence
Beyond evidence from the scene and video footage of the crash (if it exists), Modesto auto accident lawyers can use legal processes to obtain various other forms of evidence as well. Depending on the factors involved in your accident, additional necessary forms of evidence may include:
- The other driver’s cell phone records
- The other driver’s employment records (if the accident involved a tractor trailer, work truck, or company vehicle)
- The other driver’s vehicle maintenance records
- The other driver’s driving record and insurance claim history
- Receipts (i.e., if the other driver was drinking before the accident)
Any details you are able to provide your lawyer could be extremely helpful for building your claim. Did you see the other driver using their phone? Was there a company name on the side of the other driver’s vehicle? Did the other driver appear to be drunk? These types of details will help your lawyer determine what types of evidence to pursue.
4. Hire a Doctor Experienced in Auto Accident Claims
Medical records are also a key form of evidence. If your medical records are deficient in any way, they could do more harm than good for your insurance claim.
With this in mind, while it is important to see a doctor promptly, it is also important to choose your doctor wisely. A Modesto auto accident lawyer will be able to refer you to a doctor who knows what documentation is needed so that you can recover the financial compensation you deserve.
5. Hire an Accident Reconstructionist to Prove What Happened
An accident reconstructionist is an expert who uses the evidence from the scene of a crash to piece together what happened and generate a computer simulation of the collision. In many cases, accident reconstruction can be critical for proving what happened and who was to blame.
Accident reconstructionists work with law firms directly (and your law firm will pay your accident reconstructionist’s fees up front so you don’t have to come out of pocket). If recovering your losses requires accident reconstruction, you will need a Modesto auto accident law firm involved in your claim.
6. Calculate Your Future Financial Losses
After an accident, you may be able to add up your medical bills and your lost earnings as they impact your bank account. But, in addition to adding up these financial losses, you must be able to accurately calculate your future financial losses as well.
California law entitles accident victims to just compensation for all of their losses—present and future. How much will you need for your medical bills? How long will you be out of work? What mathematical formula do you need to apply? What other losses are you entitled to recover? These are all questions that you will need an experienced Modesto auto accident attorney to answer for you.
7. Calculate Your Current and Future Non-Financial Losses
The same applies to your non-financial losses. This includes your pain and suffering, scarring and disfigurement, emotional trauma, and loss of consortium. There are formulas for calculating these losses as well, and you will need an experienced lawyer to calculate (and prove) your non-financial losses in order to obtain a fair settlement.
8. Seek Punitive Damages (if Warranted)
In rare circumstances, California law entitles car accident victims to punitive damages. But, while punitive damages awards may be rare, if you have a claim, asserting it could substantially increase the amount of your financial recovery. Again, you will need a Modesto auto accident lawyer to assess your legal rights, and you will need to rely on your lawyer’s knowledge and experience to seek maximum damages on your behalf.
9. Use the Evidence to Prove Liability
Collecting evidence and calculating your losses is just the first part of the process of filing a successful claim after a car accident in Modesto. Once you have the evidence you need, you then need to use it to convince the insurance companies to settle. This means knowing how to use the evidence to prove liability—which may mean proving liability on the part of:
- The other driver’s insurance company
- The other driver’s employer
- A maintenance shop or dealership that performed negligent service
- A vehicle manufacturer
- A government agency or road contractor
This is another key point as well. While the other driver might be liable, another party could be liable as well. If you file an auto insurance claim when you should be filing a claim against a third party, you stand zero chance of recovering the compensation you deserve.
10. Negotiate Based on Years (or Decades) of Experience
In an ideal scenario, your auto accident claim will result in a favorable settlement. But, this isn’t going to fall in your lap. You will need to fight for a settlement, and you will need to convince the appropriate insurance company that it is in its best interests to pay you a fair amount.
Negotiating effectively requires years, if not decades, of relevant experience. Even if the evidence is on your side, you won’t win if you can’t present a convincing argument. An experienced Modesto auto accident lawyer will know how to do this for you, and your lawyer will be able to help you decide when is the right time to settle your claim.