If you have been injured in a car accident in Los Angeles you are probably considering if you need to hire a lawyer. The job of a personal injury lawyer is to negotiate, on your behalf, with the negligent party in the accident. They can figure out how much compensation your situation warrants and request that amount from the other party. If the other party refuses to pay the lawyer can sue them in court. In court a jury or judge will decide the merits of your claim by awarding a judgement.
What the Law Firm Can Do For You
The first thing you might be considering is what a lawyer can do that you cannot do on your own. This can be broken down into two categories; procedure and reputation.
You are probably seeking a lawyer because you don’t trust the insurance company of the person that hit you to fairly compensate you for your injuries. Assuming the best case scenario and the other party has claimed full responsibility they will have made you an offer that is in their best interest. You now want to refuse this offer for a larger amount but you don’t know quite how to go about it. This is where procedure comes into play. Not only does a law firm know exactly what to do but they have a full staff and outside investigators to help them do it.
A car accident law firm in Los Angeles also comes with a reputation. This reputation can include how successful they are when a case goes to trial and how an insurance company will respond when they are confronted with a letter from the firm. If a firm is known to win most of their cases then an insurance company is more likely to settle. And knowing that their reputation intimidates insurance companies allows the lawyers to ask for a larger settlement.
What To Do at the Scene of the Accident
Hopefully if you’ve already been in an accident you have already followed most of these steps. If not, some of these steps can be done retroactively. In either case these steps are helpful to know and apply if you ever find yourself at the scene of an accident.
Get To Safety and Call For Emergency Services
Immediately after a car accident you should first be thinking about your own safety and the safety of your passengers. Often in a traffic collision there will still be other vehicles creating dangerous conditions around you. Keep a cool head and try to stay calm. In the event of a minor accident you should get your vehicle out of the flow of traffic if you can safely do so. If there are potential serious injuries involved in the accident you should help others as best you can while maintaining your own safety and then wait for emergency services. If you can safely call 911 yourself you should do so, especially if you are unsure that passerbys would have already done so.
Document the Scene
Whether you end up needing to take a case to court and hire a lawyer, if there are injuries involved in a car accident you have been involved in you will want as much documentation as possible. You may need this documentation to submit a claim to an insurance company or it could be something used to prove negligence in a personal injury lawsuit.
These days everyone has a camera on their cell phone. You should take as many photos as you can. Photos can be of the vehicles, the injuries, the surrounding area (including any hazards), and the people involved (in case an issue arises with identification). You’ll want to cover as much ground as you can with your photo taking as you may not know what will become important later on.
You can also use your phone to take notes while everything is still fresh in your mind. Your phone probably has a note taking app or you could always write yourself an email. You will want to write down everything you can remember and any details told to you by others and date the document (using email can really help here).
You may also want to use your phones voice recording app to verbally document what happened. This could save you time and you can even get statements from others using this method.
Of course if you weren’t able to document the scene because of injuries or are just now coming upon this information it is important to note your recollections of the incident as soon as possible. If the police were called to the accident you can also ask them for any documentation they took of the accident.
Communicate With Police Officers
At the scene of an accident a police officer will often be on the scene. Police officers are daily involved in coordinating accident recovery efforts and will be your best ally for instructions on what to do.
Police will also be taking a report of the incident that will become the most official record of what happened. If you are able make sure to clearly articulate what happened in the incident. You’ll want to make sure they have a clear and accurate picture of what happened in the car accident.
How Is Compensation Calculated in a Car Accident in Los Angeles?
Compensation in injury cases is calculated based on a handful of factors.
Medical costs are the easiest to calculate. You simply need to know how much money was spent on a hospital visit and any further health care needed. Rehabilitation and medicine should also be included, really anything that would not have been necessary had the car accident not happened.
If you are injured from an accident you will probably also not be able to go into work. Whether you are paid hourly, a contractor, or a salaried full time employee there will still be a loss of income related to your injury. Depending on the injury and your work situation a lawyer can argue for how much money you are losing because of the accident. Remember, all monetary awards are considering the idea that what would have happened if the accident had never happened and how can the negligent party make your financial situation whole again.
Assuming that you were injured in a car accident it is a good bet that your vehicle was damaged if not completely totalled. You may also have had possessions in the car that were destroyed as well. The negligent party would also be responsible for paying for the damage and replacement of all physical property you lost in the accident.
Pain and Suffering
Pain and suffering is a phrase that has become popular in the English lexicon. You’re probably familiar with it but what does it actually mean in the legal sense?
Pain and suffering can be taken quite literally. There may be documents showing specific medical procedures or hospital visits you’ve endured and how much they cost, but putting a price on chronic pain is a little more complicated. And that is why there is a special, and well known, category for this type of cost.
Pain and suffering can be both physical and psychological. With physical pain you’ll need to consider pain that now occurs that didn’t before the accident. Psychological pain or suffering can be anxiety, fear, depression, or even PTSD. It may not be something you can tell a doctor how much it hurts on a scale of one to ten, but these are still problems caused by the accident that affect your quality of life. Determining how much an accident cost you is always compared to your quality of life post-accident and what it would have been like had the accident never happened.
This pain can be something treatable or something you may have to manage for the rest of your life. The duration the pain stays with you is a big factor in helping to determine how much monetary damage you could be awarded.
Loss of Consortium
Often in more serious accidents the quality of life of the injured persons family suffers. This can be the relationship someone has with their partner which would cover companionship. It can also include the loss of ability to participate in activities of a parent.
What To Have Ready When Contacting a Car Accident Lawyer in Los Angeles
When you first contact a law firm they will want to know the basic details of the accident. This will usually be what types of injuries are involved, was there any work missed, and what your future medical bills might be.
The second thing a lawyer will want to determine is who is at fault. In the initial phone call or email it is fine to simply state if the other party was 100% at fault or if you share some of the blame.
After the initial point of contact the attorney will set up a time to meet in person and this is where you have the opportunity to bring in any documentation you may have. This can include all of the documentation you did at the scene, bills from medical expenses, written testimony from witnesses, police reports, or anything else that concerns the case.
From this the lawyer is looking to see what evidence has been gathered to strongly prove your case. Your documentation may simply be the first step and the lawyers will probably investigate further to build a stronger case. But when you meet with your attorney for the first time it is best to bring anything you have that you think will assist them in building a strong case for why you were wrong and deserve a large settlement.
What Costs Are Involved In Trying a Car Accident Injury Case?
As the injured party you won’t have to worry about the costs. Most personal injury attorneys, The Ryan Law Firm included, work on a contingency basis. This means that there fee will be a percentage of the settlement or verdict award. This percentage will be presented to you at the beginning of the engagement before you sign the retainment paperwork to officially hire the lawyer. Most law firms will ask for 30%-40% depending on the time of case and if it goes to trial.
So you will pay nothing and the lawyer fee will only be part of any money you receive. However, the law firm does incur a lot of cost in pursuing a case. This can include time spent by employees of the firm or the lawyers in researching the case, writing documents, or physically going to court. In most cases expert witnesses or outside investigators are also hired to help prove the case. Reenactment videos of the event and other complicated props are also often commissioned.
If you are wondering why law firms take a sizable percentage of the settlement it is because there is a sizable expense that goes into securing that settlement. And law firms also have to consider that they won’t always win, so every case they take is a financial risk for them.
Getting In Touch With A Los Angeles Car Accident Lawyer
Now that you feel better informed as to what to expect in moving forward with hiring an attorney to represent you in your car accident injury it is time to get in touch with our law firm. The Ryan Law Group is available 24 hours a day and even on the weekends. You can contact us by phone at (310) 321-4800 or over the Internet by filling out the form at the bottom of this page.
Once we have heard the details of your case we will be able to quickly tell you if we would like to pursue the case with you. If we decide to pursue your case we will send you a retainment letter and then it is full steam ahead to get you every dime you deserve.
When meeting in person if you are not able to travel we can come to you.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.