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My car is totalled after being hit by a drunk driver. What additional help can a lawyer provide?

Dallas, TX |

On 10/31/12 at 2:15pm Central Time, I was rear ended by a drunk driver while at a stop light which was red. My car has been determined a total loss. I am awaiting final approvals from the insurance company. I have filed all the claims. I have pictures of the damages to my vehicle. At this point, I'm unsure how much the insurance company will pay for the loss of my car and in addition I have great soreness in my neck and my knees hurt from the impact.

What steps should I take to ensure I am compensated fairly and reasonably? Insurance companies have a tendency of low balling their customers.

Please advise. Thank you!

Attorney Answers 11

  1. Follow up with your regular doctor as soon as possible and report everything that hurts. This is important because a minor ache and pain now could be turn out to be your main complaint three months from now and if it was never initially documented it could prove hard to relate back to your crash. Proper documentation of all your symptoms/problems is very important. If you are contacted by the drunk drivers insurance do not give a recorded statement or sign any authorizations.

    DISCLAIMER: David J. McCormick is licensed to practice law in the State of Wisconsin and this answer is being provided for informational purposes only because the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship.

  2. Since you are already familiar with how insurance companies will lowball you without a lawyer, you already understand that a lawyer can get you more out a settlement in your pocket, even after paying the lawyer's fee. Furthermore, what a lawyer can do is even more highlighted when dealing with a drunk driver case. You have been hurt and need to get all the treatment you need before ever settling. The negligence of this drunk driver has totally interrupted most aspects of your life and his insurance company should have to pay to make you whole again. Make sure you consult with a personal injury attorney before trying to handle it on your own. You will be pleasantly surprised by the better result.

  3. Make sure you get treated and see an injury attorney in your State as soon as possible. As it relates to the value of your vehicle it would be fair market value. Establish that with ads for your make and model on the internet, print press and/or blue book prices. You can pick and choose to find the best prices. Good luck.

    You should consult an attorney in your State at once. This response does not constitute legal advise outside the State Of Michigan and is not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship with our offices. It is for informational use only of the general laws in the State of Michigan, only. To retain our offices, you need to sign a contingency contract with us. We do offer free consultations and we can refer clients to lawyers in your State if you call us. Visit our webpage and tell us what you think.

  4. It's highly unlikely you will receive a fair settlement from the insurance company. Also, if your neck and knees hurt, you need to see a doctor and get some treatment so you will know the full extent of your injuries.
    You really should talk to an attorney about your situation.

  5. A lawyer will help you recover far more for your bodily injury case than you can recover yourself. It is really that simple.

  6. As you are already aware, injuries sustained in an accident can be very difficult to manage. You may be frustrating in dealing with your injuries due to mounting medical bills and overwhelming physical and emotional distress. Moreover, you may not even realize there may be different avenues of compensatory recovery.

    You may be able to settle your own claim. But what you must understand is that insurance companies are in business to make a profit and one way to do so is to minimize the amount they pay for a claim. They may even deny your claim altogether. Insurance companies know how to pressure people into rushing through a claim or making statements that could negatively impact the benefits you are eligible to receive.

    While it is true that a personal injury attorney will receive a portion of any settlement they help negotiate, the amount you will receive will be significantly higher with the help of an attorney, even after taking the attorney fees into account. It is vital for you to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to help you through this process.

  7. All the other lawyers are right. Contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can litigate your case if need be and the insurance company knows that.

    -Michael R. Juarez Law Office of Juarez and Schaeffer PO Box 16216 San Diego, CA 92105 (619) 804-4327 This posting is provided for “information purposes” only and should not be relied upon as "legal advice." Nothing transmitted from this posting constitutes the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. Applicability of the legal principles discussed here may differ substantially in individual situations or in different jurisdictions.

  8. My sympathies with your situation. It is unfortunate that a drunk driver risked your safety and that of others. Generally speaking, Texas juries hate drunk drivers and the insurance company knows that. Normally, insurance carriers will adjust the value of a case involving a drunk driver at a higher rate than a non-intoxicated driver. You should keep this in mind as you proceed.

    In addition, the venue for your case (that is the county where you would need to file suit) can affect the value of the claim as well. Dallas County has become more progressive in the past few years and jury verdicts in Dallas County seem to be reflecting that. Again, the insurance company knows this.

    If you are hurt, you should seek medical care immediately. Even though you are not at fault for this event, Texas law places a responsibility on you to mitigate your loss and to document your damages/injuries. The only way you can readily prove you are injured is by seeking the care of qualified health care professionals. Do not wait to seek care, as the insurance company will use any type of delay to argue that you are either not hurt or something else caused your injury.

    Finally, you may consider hiring an attorney. Typically, you will get a better result with counsel than without, even after paying attorney’s fees. Despite that fact, many insurance companies will have their claims adjusters tell unrepresented parties that they will get less if they hire a lawyer, but you should seriously judge the source of that type of statement and rest assured in my 20 years of experience that is seldom the case.

  9. You should expect to get fair market value for your car, its loss of use, as well as any diminished value to your car.

    If you have not gone to a doctor yet, you should. Nobody can tell you what an injury claim is worth without actually looking at all of the information. If you do not have any medical appointments or treatment then you should expect a nominal offer or next to nothing from your bodily injury claim. Good luck.

    I am an Arizona attorney. AVVO does not pay us for our responses. Simply because I responded to your question does not mean I am your attorney. In Arizona a non-lawyer is held to the same standards as an attorney so there are dangers to representing yourself. This is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. If you require legal assistance an in depth discussion of your case is needed as there are many other issues to consider such as defenses, statute of limitations, etc.

  10. My brethren above are right. When you have medical problems, get medical help. Your lawsuit is secondary. Your property damage is secondary. Your property damage is important, and state laws (Texas) are so important that they require insurance companies to deal with the property damage claim quickly or they are on the hook for longer terms of rental car, loss of use, and, if the car is repairable, a diminished value claim. If you are hurt, you have an injury claim, but you have to be assessed or someone with the insurance company would be forced to take your word for it over the telephone. That is how you have to see it. They won't just "believe" you. Insurance companies will "ignore" you if they think it helps their position. It is my experience after twenty plus years that you will NOT get more without a lawyer. You will get MORE with one. This is true, however, only if you are hurt and can prove it. Take care of yourself. Get to a doctor, and then hire a good lawyer.

    The answer provided by counsel in the AVVO forum is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information is opinion only and given free of charge without full understanding of all facts and the law applicable to any question-poster's individual circumstances. The best advice is to take the question from this volunteer forum to a more formal communication with a practitioner in the specialty area indicated by the nature of the claim.

  11. You want to at least see a lawyer before giving any statement. Insurance companies make money by collecting premiums, not by paying claims.

    Confidential information should not be disclosed in this Internet forum. Click on the "More..." link for IMPORTANT INFORMATION about this AVVO Answer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I am an experienced Wisconsin lawyer. The laws in each jurisdiction can be very different. I cannot give legal advice over the internet nor can I establish an attorney client relationship with you. You should NOT assume or otherwise conclude that there is an attorney -client relationship between any reader and this writer or his firm. These comments are only guideposts. They are not subject to any privilege protections. Indeed, these internet communications are neither privileged nor confidential. Accordingly, those using this form of communication need to be guarded in what they write. Because of the nature of these communications the information is general only and should not be relied upon in any specific case. This internet site is public forum, where the communications are not confidential or privileged. There may very well be merit to your defense or position in this type of situation. However, there are hardly sufficient details for an attorney to provide you with some path to follow. It is imperative that ALL of the facts in a particular situation be examined. No conclusion can be drawn from the communication that you have provided. There are some matters that are just better handled by an attorney familiar with the procedures of the courts in your area. Most, if not all, legal matters should not be handled via internet communication. At best, the responders on this site can give you a few hints and guidance. To deal with a legal problem, nothing is better than to consult with a lawyer who will give you some time and advice. If you cannot afford an attorney, there should be agencies in your area that can provide discounted, or even free, legal services. For a definitive answer you should seek legal advice from an attorney who (1) is licensed to practice in the state which has jurisdiction; (2) has experience in the area of law you are asking about, and (3) has been retained as your attorney for representation or consultation. Your question and the attorney’s answer may be used for promotional or educational purposes.

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