Following a Tampa car accident, one of the first questions asked by victims is often whether or not they need to hire an attorney to help them receive adequate compensation for their injury-related losses. The simplest answer to this question is “no,” as you are not required by any rule or law in Florida to be represented by an attorney for an insurance claim or even in court. However, in most cases, it is highly advisable to seek assistance from a skilled and knowledgeable car accident lawyer who can work to protect your best interests and legal rights.
Ways An Attorney Can Help
Having a qualified lawyer handling a car accident case can help in many different ways, including the following:
Negotiate with an insurance company — Because of Florida’s no-fault insurance laws, many car accident cases are handled directly through the injured victim’s auto insurance company. Insurance adjusters do not always make offers that are adequate to cover a policyholder’s losses, however, and an attorney can communicate and negotiate with the insurer to obtain a higher settlement offer.
File a legal claim — If injuries are serious and adequate compensation is not available through personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, an accident victim may have to file a personal injury claim in civil court. To initiate a claim, a petition (also known as a complaint) must be filed with the court. This document must contain certain information set out in the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure and having an attorney draft this document can mean having a more persuasive and effective claim from the beginning of the case.
Negotiate with the other party — The majority of car accident claims are settled without having to go to a trial through mediation, negotiation, or other alternative dispute resolution methods. An attorney will be able to evaluate a case and will strive to negotiate for a favorable settlement to avoid the stress and expense of trial when possible.
Provide representation at trial — If a trial is necessary in order to obtain sufficient compensation, an attorney with litigation experience will understand all of the relevant court rules and procedures and will be able to design an effective trial strategy. Everything move from the very beginning of jury selection to the end of trial will be scrutinized by the jury, so it is imperative to have a lawyer who know how to perform in the courtroom.
While an attorney’s representation and assistance is not required by law, it is generally wise to at least discuss a car accident case with a lawyer familiar with all of Florida’s personal injury laws. Doing so can make a substantial difference in the amount of compensation that can be obtained for medical bills, lost income, and more.