Being involved in a motor vehicle crash is a harrowing experience, especially when the incident occurred through no fault of your own.
You may need medical treatment, and the property damage to your vehicle may be considerable. These issues will cause a financial hit, but you’ll experience physical and emotional losses as well.
As you’re mentally processing what happened, you’re likely to ask yourself: Should I get a lawyer for a car accident that wasn't my fault?
In short, the answer is yes. However, you probably want more information before taking the leap. Here are the top reasons why retaining a New Jersey car accident attorney should be a priority.
An Attorney Can Explain Your Options for Filing an Insurance Claim
Motorists in New Jersey are required to carry auto insurance, so filing a claim is the first step. However, New Jersey follows the rule of “no-fault” in car crash cases, which means you must file a claim with your own insurance company to cover your losses.
The key exception is where you suffered serious injuries, a situation that would allow you to seek compensation by filing a claim with the responsible driver’s insurance company. These claims can be complex, but an experienced lawyer understands the challenges in dealing with insurers. In such a case, you must prove that the other motorist’s negligence was the cause of the accident. Examples include:
- Speeding or traveling too fast for conditions;
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol; and,
- Distracted driving, such as texting, talking on the phone, posting to social media, or related activities.
Your Lawyer Will Seek All Available Compensation:
If you’re able to prove fault of the other driver, you may be entitled to recover a wide range of monetary damages. The concept of damages focuses on your losses and the compensation you should receive to cover them. There are two forms of compensation available in a New Jersey car accident case:
- Economic Damages: The category refers to your medical bills, lost wages, property damage to your vehicle, and other easily ascertainable losses, some of which you may be paying out of your own funds; and,
- Non-Economic Damages: These losses aren’t associated with a specific dollar value, but you definitely endure hardship because of your injuries. Non-economic damages may include pain, suffering, emotional distress, and others.
Skilled Representation is Critical in Negotiations
When considering legal representation, it’s important to understand how insurance companies work. For an insurer, as with any business, success is tied to profit. When you file a claim for losses in an injury-causing accident, you’re a threat to these profits.
Therefore, claims adjusters are trained to find ways to minimize the risk – typically by rejecting your claim or making a low-ball counteroffer to resolve it. They may contest your version of the accident and allege that your own conduct contributed to the incident. A claims adjuster may also dispute the nature and severity of your injuries.
For this reason, the answer should always be YES, when you’re asking: Should I get a lawyer for a car accident that wasn't my fault? Attorneys know the tactics that insurance companies use, and will always put your interests first when negotiating a settlement.
An Attorney Will Fight for Your Rights in Court
If you cannot reach an agreement on a fair, reasonable compensation amount, your next step is to file a lawsuit in court. Note that you must do so within two years after the accident under New Jersey’s statute of limitations.
Litigation is complex and requires high-level knowledge of New Jersey laws, court procedural rules, case precedent, and many other legal topics. Without a legal background, you put your rights at risk.
A lawyer can assist with all litigation details in a car accident case, including:
- Investigating the causes and contributing factors in the incident;
- Drafting the Complaint to initiate a lawsuit, which states the facts and your request for monetary damages;
- Advocating on your behalf during routine court appearances;
- Filing motions in your favor and defending those brought by the defendant;
- Engaging in discovery, including requests for documents, interrogatories, and depositions; and,
- Fighting for your rights during trial.
Consult with an Experienced Lawyer About Your Options
Hopefully, these reasons provide a sufficient answer to your question: Should I get a lawyer for a car accident that wasn't my fault? However, if you need additional information, please contact O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble to set up a free case assessment. You can reach any of our five New Jersey locations by calling toll-free at 1-800-586-5817.