After you’ve been involved in a car accident in San Diego, California, you may be wondering what your options are for compensation. California is an at-fault state, meaning you can generally pursue money from the at-fault driver after a crash. But do you need to hire a lawyer in order to do so?
The short answer is that, strictly speaking, you are not required to hire a lawyer to pursue compensation from the at-fault driver in a car accident in California. However, whether you should hire one is a different story and will depend on the facts of your case.
Mission Personal Injury Lawyers has been helping accident victims throughout the San Diego area obtain the compensation they need and deserve since 2010. Our San Diego car accident lawyers have 43 years of combined experience, and our personal injury law firm has collected tens of millions of dollars on behalf of our clients.
Importantly, because of the way we receive our attorney’s fees (more on this below), we won’t be incentivized to take on your claim unless it is also worth our time. That means that you can feel free to give us a call to discuss your case without fear of being pressured into hiring us.
What Mission Personal Injury Lawyers Can Do To Help After a Car Accident in San Diego
No law in California mandates you hire an attorney after a car accident. So why do people choose to hire one anyways? One major reason why is that you’ll likely be up against the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Insurance corporations are for-profit businesses and so are incentivized to minimize or eliminate their liability whenever possible. They’ve been doing this for decades upon decades and are highly skilled at it.
If you hire a lawyer, you’ll help to increase your bargaining power and level the playing field; the other driver’s insurance company will have a much tougher time taking advantage of you. A few of the other reasons why people hire San Diego car accident lawyers after a collision include:
- A lawyer can handle every aspect of your claim – the paperwork, communications, and negotiations, to name a few – while you focus on your medical recovery
- An attorney can hire experts to strengthen your claim as well as testify on your behalf if your case makes it to trial
- A lawyer can advise you on your legal options as your case develops
- You will likely be blamed for the accident, which could reduce your compensation – a lawyer can protect you from these allegations
- An attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf if the other side refuses to settle, and managing a lawsuit on your own will likely be incredibly difficult
Mission Personal Injury Lawyers is here to help you as best we can after a car crash in San Diego, CA. That might mean recommending you pursue your claim on your own or advising you that hiring a lawyer is in your best interest. Contact us today for further information; in the meantime, read on for additional insight into the topic.
When Should I Hire a San Diego Car Accident Attorney?
Whether it is in your best interest to hire a lawyer after a car accident in San Diego is largely a case-specific determination. Some types of accidents likely don’t require the services of an attorney, such as when the crash did not result in any injuries or significant damage. For those types of claims (think of a minor fender-bender), hiring a lawyer likely will not be worth your time – nor the lawyer’s. Consider the following when it comes to making a decision on whether or not to hire a lawyer.
The Value of Your Claim
If your claim is valuable, however, it might become wise to hire a lawyer. Broadly speaking, as your case goes up in worth, the more likely it is that you’ll benefit from hiring an attorney. As noted above, you will most likely need to file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company in order to recover maximum compensation. Doing so will require you to negotiate to arrive at a fair settlement agreement.
Negotiating With the Insurance Company
Insurance adjusters are trained to reduce the liability of the company they work for. This is true whether the adjuster works for your insurance company or the other driver’s. They might, for instance, ask you pointed questions that are designed to give the company an avenue through which to deny or reduce the value of your claim. Hiring a lawyer means you’ll have an advocate on your side who can put your interests first.
The Issue of Contributory Fault
Another consideration is that California operates under a pure comparative negligence standard. With this standard, you will be assigned a percentage of fault for the accident. The higher that percentage, the more your compensation claim can be reduced. For example, if you are assigned 30% of the blame, your damages award could be reduced by 30%. If you hire a lawyer, you will be better equipped to respond to these accusations effectively.
Filing a Lawsuit
In some (if not most) cases, the insurance company might refuse to offer a settlement that accurately reflects the value of your claim. If that happens, your best course of action could be to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. Filing a lawsuit without legal representation is unrealistic and highly unadvised. However, the mere threat of litigation in court can sometimes persuade the other side to settle for a more reasonable amount. And filing a lawsuit allows the pretrial discovery process to take place, which could reveal the evidence necessary to prove your case.
What Do San Diego Car Accident Lawyers Charge for Their Legal Services?
When it comes to deciding whether or not to hire a San Diego car accident lawyer, it is important to understand how attorneys in this area receive payment for their legal services.
Mission Personal Injury Lawyers works on a contingency fee basis. What that means is that it doesn’t cost you anything upfront to hire us. Instead, we will receive our attorney’s fees as a percentage of the financial award we obtain for you at the end of your case. We will agree to this percentage ahead of time, and it will usually be around 33%.
With a contingency fee payment system, we only make money if we win or settle your case. In addition, you’ll be able to hire us even if you’re in a difficult financial position. At the same time, however, we won’t be able to take on every case that comes before us. If it is not in your best interest to hire a lawyer, it is likely not in our best interest to take on your case either. This is one reason why we offer a free consultation to review the facts of your situation.
Schedule a Free Case Review To Find Out Whether You Need an Attorney
The overarching point we would like to make in this article is that there are some situations where it is worth your time to hire a lawyer after a car accident in San Diego, and there are others where it probably isn’t.
Since we work on contingency, we won’t be incentivized to handle your claim unless it makes sense for us as well. But since we only make money if we collect compensation for you – and because the more money you receive, the more money we receive as well – we’ll only recommend that you hire us if doing so could benefit each of us.
We recommend scheduling a free consultation to speak with one of our experienced San Diego car accident lawyers. In that meeting, we can help to determine whether it is best for you to hire an attorney. Keep in mind as well that you are under no obligation to hire us after this initial consultation. Call today to learn more.