While you have a right to represent yourself when filing your auto collision claim in California, this does not mean it would be a good idea to do this. In fact, you would be making a big mistake that could weaken your case. Here are five reasons you should retain an experienced San Diego car accident lawyer instead of representing yourself if you want to receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries.
#1: You Do Not Know What Evidence You Need
You have the burden of establishing the other motorist’s negligence caused your accident, the seriousness of your injuries, and the amount of damages you should receive in your settlement. You need evidence to prove your case.
You do not have the expertise to know what evidence you need or how to obtain some types of proof on your own. Building a strong case can be even more complicated if the insurance company disputes your claim—which is common in car accident cases.
A skilled attorney will know exactly what evidence you need and be able to collect it before it is lost or destroyed. Here are the types of proof they will obtain for you:
- Negligent driver’s auto insurance policy
- Police report
- Photos and videos of the damage to the vehicles, crash scene, and your injuries
- Eyewitness written statements
- Nearby business surveillance footage that may have recorded your crash as it occurred
- Black box data from the negligent driver’s automobile
- Your medical records
- Pay stubs and other documentation of your lost wages claim
- Expert witness reports
#2: You Might Miss a Deadline
If you represent yourself, you could miss an important deadline in your case. For example, you could fail to file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires. If you did not file your complaint within this time period, you could be barred from pursuing your case in court.
#3: You Do Not Understand the Law
If you want to win your claim, you must understand the California laws, such as our pure comparative negligence doctrine, that may apply to your case. Researching the law on the internet will not give you the necessary knowledge. A lawyer who handles many car accident cases in their practice will know the statutes and case laws that can affect your claim.
#4: You Do Not Know How to Value Your Claim
In California, you can be compensated for your past and future medical expenses, lost wages and earning capacity damages, property damages, and pain and suffering if a negligent driver caused your crash. However, it can be complicated to determine how much your claim is worth, especially if you suffered a long-term injury that will require medical treatment and impact your ability to work in the future. In addition, you could undervalue the damages you should receive for your pain and suffering if you do not have the assistance of an attorney.
#5: You Do Not Have the Skill to Negotiate Your Settlement
Even if you have a solid case, you should not assume that the insurance company will offer you a fair settlement. To save the company money, the insurance adjuster could do everything they can to deny your claim, delay it, and reduce the amount of compensation they must pay you. Some of the disputes they could raise include:
- Your claim is not covered under the insurance policy.
- You were the negligent driver or partially at fault in causing the car accident.
- Another incident caused your injuries.
- Your injuries are less severe than you claim.
- Some of your medical treatments were unnecessary.
- You are asking for more compensation than you are entitled to.
You do not have the experience to know how to refute these and other arguments the insurance adjuster may make in settlement negotiations. In addition, you may be tricked into accepting far less than you deserve in your settlement. However, an attorney will know the arguments the insurance company could make and will have strategies to defeat them.