Defense Attorney for Car Accidents

Defense Attorney for Car Accidents

Car accidents indeed significantly impact people’s lives. For instance, in the United States, nearly 1.6 million vehicle crashes caused injuries, while over 3.6 million resulted in property damage in 2020.

If you get injured in a car crash, you can file a claim with your or the at-fault driver’s insurance company. But if you are at fault, consider hiring an experienced defense attorney to represent you.

How can a car accident lawyer determine who is liable in a car accident? What can they do to help you secure a fair settlement? What can you expect when working with an attorney in a claims process?

This article tackles these questions and discusses some common car accident defenses. This article also discusses the damages you can claim and how to obtain compensation for these damages.

If you have a loved one involved in a car crash, Personal Injury Lawyer Search can help you find a car accident attorney for your legal needs. Use the search tool to find a lawyer by U.S. state or practice area, such as insurance, serious injury, wrongful death, and property damage.

“If I Was the One Who Caused the Accident, Do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney?”

If you cause a vehicle accident and injure someone, you should immediately report the incident to your insurance company. Your insurer will provide you with legal counsel.

Suppose the case becomes a lawsuit, likely due to your provider refusing to pay the injured party a fair settlement. Your insurance company’s attorney will defend you in the lawsuit.

How a Car Accident Attorney Proves Who Is Liable in an Accident

If you think the other party is at fault for the car accident, you must prove that their negligence caused the damages you claim. The following sections discuss four essential elements in proving your claim or lawsuit.

Duty of Care

Duty of care is your legal responsibility to avoid doing anything that causes harm to others. This duty is almost a given in automobile accidents because all drivers must act responsibly on the road not to cause damage to other road users.


In auto accident cases, you must prove the defendant’s negligence, meaning they acted or failed to act in a way that violates their duty of care. Examples of negligence include the following:

  • Reckless driving
  • Speeding
  • Drunk driving
  • Distracted driving
  • Merging into traffic without looking


In determining the defendant’s fault, you must prove that their negligence caused the car wreck and your injury. However, causation in car accidents can sometimes get confusing.

For example, when a motorist loses control while speeding and hits a telephone pole, what happens when that pole falls over and hits your car?

When the driver indirectly causes the accident, you can still prove causation under a “but-for causation” or “proximate cause.”

You can usually conclude proximate causation if you prove your injury would not have occurred “but for” the other person’s actions.

In other words, you must prove to your insurer or the court that you would not have suffered injuries if not for the defendant’s negligence.


Damages are the monetary awards you get as compensation for your losses. To receive damages, you must prove you suffered harm, sustained losses from the accident, and are entitled to such awards. Harm can include physical and emotional injuries and financial losses.

Car Accident Lawyers Can Negotiate With Auto Insurance Companies for You

Each state has laws on auto insurance coverage and how insurance companies must handle claims.

Some states, such as Georgia, implement a fault-based system. Other states like Florida and New York have a no-fault system.

In an at-fault state, the motorist who caused a car accident must compensate the other parties’ losses. In a no-fault state, both drivers’ insurance companies pay for their respective insured’s medical expenses regardless of who caused the collision.

Regardless of the system, you may encounter complications when proving who is to blame for your car wreck. Working with a car wreck attorney can provide the legal assistance you need.

What Car Accident Lawyers Will Do to Secure Maximum Compensation

To help you secure a fair settlement, a car accident lawyer will conduct an exhaustive investigation of your car crash to figure out the following:

  • How the incident happened
  • What caused the accident
  • How the accident has affected your personal and work life
  • The compensation amount appropriate for your damages
  • Who pays for losses incurred from the crash

Identifying the Parties Liable for Your Losses

Aside from determining the motorist responsible for your car crash, your lawyer can also identify other parties liable for your injuries. These parties include the following:

  • Other motorists: Some accidents can have more than one driver causing the crash, such as in chain reaction accidents.

  • The car manufacturer: Your vehicle’s manufacturer can be liable if an accident happens due to a car defect or malfunction.

  • The party designing or maintaining the roadway: The party tasked with maintaining road conditions can be liable if a poorly maintained or designed roadway contributes to the crash.

  • The municipality: The municipality can be responsible if the accident occurs because of a defective or malfunctioning street light, traffic signal, or stop sign.

Collecting the Right Evidence

Your lawyer can collect the appropriate evidence that can fully support your claim. Some of these pieces of evidence are as follows:

  • Police and accident reports
  • Your medical records
  • Pictures and videos of the accident, including the cars involved and your injuries
  • Witness statements
  • Car crash videos from dashboard cameras (dash cams) and security cameras from nearby establishments, if available

Negotiating With Insurance Providers for a Fair Settlement or Taking Your Case to Court

A lawyer with decades of experience dealing and negotiating with insurance providers can help you secure the best possible results. Your lawyer can handle all communications with insurers and claims adjusters, so you do not have to face these parties alone.

Suppose your provider delays your compensation, makes a lowball settlement offer, or denies your claim. Work with a car accident lawyer who can prepare and is equipped to bring your case to court and win.

What to Expect a Car Accident Lawyer Can Do in the Claims Process

After the accident, you must call your insurance company to report what happened. If the other driver is at fault, you can contact their insurer to report the accident and start the claims process. The following sections discuss these processes in detail.

Negotiating Your Coverage

Insurance companies often use phrases and terms in your policy that may confuse you. An experienced lawyer can review your policy, understand those terms, and negotiate the coverage you deserve.

Seeking a Settlement

An insurance company can attempt to resolve your car accident claim by offering a settlement agreement. A lawyer can assist you by negotiating a fair settlement on your behalf. 

A settlement agreement is a mutual deal between you, your insurance provider, and the other motorist to pay a specific amount in compensation. Once you accept this offer, you waive your right to pursue legal action against the other driver.

Benefits of Settlements

Sometimes, a car accident settlement can benefit you and the other driver. For example, in a no-fault state, the other motorist can receive compensation for their accident more quickly than if they take their claim to court.

One of the most significant benefits is that you and the other driver can move on from the incident once the settlement offer is accepted.

Negotiations Process

You and the other driver must negotiate the amount of compensation before accepting the settlement. If you find the process challenging, consider hiring a lawyer for assistance.

Your lawyer can negotiate with the other driver’s lawyer and insurance company. Lawyers have experience negotiating and can convince other parties to reach an agreement that benefits you best.

“How Much Will a Car Accident Lawyer Cost Me?”

A car accident lawyer usually charges a contingency fee, meaning the law firm will only receive a payment if you get the settlement from your case.

The contingency fee a personal injury lawyer can receive varies but typically ranges between 25% and 40% of the settlement. One-third, or 33%, is usually the standard percentage.

Suppose your lawyer’s contingency fee is 33%, and you recover $12,000 in a car accident case. They will receive around $3,960 ($12,000 x 33% = $3,960).

What Are the Most Common Auto Accident Defenses?

Suppose you are the plaintiff (the injured party) in a motor vehicle accident lawsuit. To succeed in claiming damages, you must prove that the defendant caused the accident and your injuries.

However, depending on their defense, the defendant can argue that there is no causation between their conduct or negligence and your injuries. The following sections explain some of these common defenses.

What Is Contributory Negligence?

Contributory negligence is when your conduct falls below the standard behavior you should conform to for your protection. In other words, you have a duty to avoid an accident or not get injured, and your breach of this duty can result in damages to yourself.

If there is unreasonable conduct on your part resulting in the accident or injury, your recovery can be barred due to your contribution to the accident.

What Is Comparative Negligence?

Comparative negligence or comparative fault assigns blame for an injury or accident between two or more parties. This doctrine distributes fault based on each party’s percentage of negligence, typically calculated by comparing their role in the accident.

If you are the plaintiff, courts will usually consider your percentage of negligence for a partial recovery instead of a full compensation.

Why Is Comparative Negligence an Important Defense for a Defendant?

To win a personal injury lawsuit, you must establish that the defendant is responsible for the harm.

Sometimes, it is clear that the defendant caused the accident due to their negligence. However, the case can become complicated if you are also partially at fault.

In a pure comparative fault jurisdiction, the monetary damages you receive decrease by a percentage assessed as related to your fault in the accident. In other words, if you are comparatively negligent, your award can decrease by the percentage of whatever is your comparative fault.

What Is a Duty to Mitigate Damages?

This duty requires you to take reasonable steps to minimize losses from an accident. This duty commonly includes seeking medical treatment by going to an emergency room, urgent care, chiropractor, or other medical facility after a car accident.

What Is the Seat Belt Defense?

Suppose an unfortunate event such as getting into an accident happens. Whether you were wearing a seat belt is essential to your case.

Aside from this device being crucial for your safety, not wearing one can have legal repercussions. You can be fined if you get caught, and not wearing a seat belt can negatively impact your personal injury case.

What Is the Seat Belt Law?

Some states require all private passenger car occupants to wear a safety belt. Some vehicles, such as taxicabs and limousines, may only need front passengers to wear safety belts while also providing back-seat passengers with this equipment.

California’s seat belt law states that if everyone in the vehicle is 16 or older, the driver is responsible for securing themselves and telling the passengers to buckle up.

If children under 16 are in the car, the driver or parents must ensure the children are wearing seat belts.

Pure Comparative Fault’s Definition and Examples

Pure comparative fault, also called pure comparative negligence, lets you, as the claimant, collect damages, even if you are 99% at fault.

However, your compensation amount decreases by your degree of fault. This rule applies to all auto accident types, including car, motorcycle, pedestrian, and truck accidents.

Three Basic Ways to Obtain Compensation for Damages

You can obtain compensation for damages incurred in a car accident in the following ways:

  • File a claim with your insurance company.
  • File a claim with the at-fault motorist’s insurance provider. That insurer will pay for your damages if you prove you are not at fault.
  • File a civil lawsuit against the other driver. Should their insurance provider not offer a fair settlement, you can get a car accident lawyer and sue.

“Can I File a Lawsuit?”

Sometimes, you and the insurance company cannot agree with the settlement offer, whether you file a claim yourself or with a lawyer. In such cases, consider going to court and filing a lawsuit.

If you decide to pursue a trial, consider working with an attorney with years of experience in car accident injury cases.

Reasons to File a Lawsuit

Not agreeing on a settlement with the insurer is one good reason to file a lawsuit. Others include the involvement of a defective vehicle, driver negligence, and improper road design, as discussed in the sections below.

Driver Negligence

Many cases of driver negligence result from inattention or distraction, resulting in drivers not looking where they are going. In most vehicles, these distractions include mobile phones, the radio, and global positioning system (GPS) devices.

Defective Vehicle

Sometimes, car accidents happen due to vehicle malfunction, which can be the fault of auto manufacturers or parts suppliers. For instance, tires, brakes, and wheels can fail while the car runs.

Although these situations can occur due to wear and tear, they can also happen due to defective parts. You can hold the manufacturer responsible for the vehicle accident by filing a personal injury lawsuit.

Improper Road Design

Accidents can also occur because of poor road conditions or improperly designed roads. Examples include low visibility and inadequate barriers.

Some states, such as New York, allow you to file a lawsuit due to negligent engineering or construction resulting in your crash.

“How Much Is My Lawsuit Worth?”

The compensation you can get from a car accident lawsuit depends on the facts surrounding your incident and the severity of your injuries.

Some of the economic and noneconomic damages to consider when determining your compensation are as follows:

  • Outstanding medical bills
  • Future medical expenses
  • Lost wages while out of work due to injuries
  • Projected income loss
  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Property damage or destruction

Types of Damages in a Car Accident Case

Depending on the circumstances of your car accident, you can claim several kinds of damages in a personal injury lawsuit. These damages include the following:

  • Medical expenses: These damages include consultation fees, ambulance fees, and accessories like heat pads or crutches.

  • Lost wages: Your inability to work can be due to physical injuries, time spent in a hospital, and physical therapy sessions.

  • Pain and suffering: These damages are the mental and physical distress you can experience after the accident.

  • Loss of consortium: Your injuries can deprive you and your spouse of the ability to provide affection and companionship.

  • Property damages: The at-fault driver’s insurance should cover the property damage due to the car accident.

  • Punitive damages: The function of these damages is to punish the offender for their actions, such as misconduct or negligence.

What Are Common Car Accident Injuries?

When you get involved in a car accident, you can suffer from various kinds of injuries, such as the following:

  • Head and back injury: This category includes concussions, spinal cord injuries, and facial injuries.

  • Neck and chest injury: This type includes bruised or broken ribs, whiplash (neck muscle strain), and heart attack.

  • Arm and leg injury: This group of injuries includes dislocation, broken bones, and loss of limbs.

Strengthening Your Claim

Insurance companies usually have plenty of resources you may not possess. Insurance adjusters can work with accident investigators and medical professionals to examine your claim’s facts and look for loopholes that could lower the insurer’s settlement offer.

Strengthen your claim by working with a lawyer experienced in auto accident cases and who can help protect your rights. Your lawyer will collect evidence supporting your side of the case and match the insurance provider’s arguments point for point.

“Will My Auto Insurance Be Enough?”

Some states legally require motorists to have a minimum liability insurance policy to help cover car accident costs.

For example, New York requires the following minimum limits for injury liability coverage:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury to one individual
  • $50,000 for bodily injury to two or more individuals in one accident

If you are unsure whether your policy is sufficient to cover your damages, consult your lawyer for an estimate.

Lack of Coverage

Hiring a lawyer can benefit you if the insurance company does not want to cover your accident’s costs.

Insurance companies can refuse to cover your accident to avoid paying for the other motorist’s claim or for other legitimate reasons. You can be liable for the other driver’s compensation in such situations.

A lawyer can help you avoid this situation or prepare you for the next steps in your settlement claim.

What Are Restricted Claims?

Some states with no-fault laws implement restricted claims. This means that an accident victim’s ability to file insurance claims for other crash-related damages can be restricted. 

For example, Florida can limit an injured driver’s ability to pursue settlement for pain and suffering in a car accident claim. If you want compensation for pain and suffering, you must meet an injury threshold to file a claim.

How Does No-Fault Insurance Work?

No-fault insurance covers your medical expenses, loss of income following a car accident, or both, regardless of who is at fault.

No-fault insurance is also called personal injury protection (PIP). Some states require motorists to have no-fault coverage. Other states make this insurance optional.

Bodily Injury Liability

Some insurance policies provide additional coverage for your injuries. One such policy is bodily injury liability. If you are involved in the accident, this insurance can help pay for damages you cause to the other driver and helps when they file a claim against you for additional compensation.

The only issue is that this coverage type is optional, unlike PIP.

Property Damage Claims

Property damage happens when your property gets damaged or destroyed. This property loses part of its monetary value, functionality, or both.

Property has two categories:

  • Real property, such as land and house
  • Personal property, such as jewelry, clothing, electronic devices, and vehicles

In some states, such as Florida, you can file a claim for property damage that results in your vehicle’s loss using your property damage liability insurance.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

An uninsured motorist coverage includes damages caused by an underinsured or uninsured driver. You can maximize this policy if your insurance type does not carry enough damage insurance. However, this coverage type is optional.

Uninsured Driver Claims

If you have uninsured motorist insurance coverage, it should compensate you up to your policy’s coverage amount. Using your personal health insurance instead can cause your deductible to increase.

You may still receive a favorable judgment if you sue an uninsured driver. However, you may never see the reward because the defendant may be unable to pay it.

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations is the specific period within which to file a personal injury claim against the other driver in your accident. For car accident victims in some states, the statute of limitations to make a claim and recover compensation is four years from the accident.

Serious Injury Threshold

Some states implement an injury threshold to determine whether a motorist can file a car accident claim.

For example, Florida law considers a serious injury as one with the following characteristics:

  • Causes substantial or permanent loss of an essential bodily function
  • Permanent within the reasonable medical guidelines
  • Causes permanent or severe disfigurement
  • Results in death

If your injury falls under these factors, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver at fault.

Establishing Fault in Personal Injury Claims

To determine someone’s legal liability or fault in any accident case, you must consider your state’s definition of negligence, such as failing to exhibit due care. For example, another driver’s negligence resulting in an accident can cause their insurance company to compensate for your losses.

“What Kind of Evidence Do I Need?”

Some of the essential evidence you must collect when you get involved in a car accident are as follows:

  • Photographs of the accident scene, such as property damage, injuries, collision debris, skid marks, and road conditions, taken from various angles
  • Witness testimonies
  • Official records, such as police reports

Rear-End Accident Laws

In rear-end auto accidents, whoever causes it should be legally liable. However, this situation is not always true, even when you believe the rear driver should be at fault.

Sometimes, the lead vehicle may suddenly brake or fail to signal. Even if the rear driver gets ticketed for following too closely, further investigation can reveal whether the lead driver is to blame.

Accidents Involving Ridesharing Groups and Taxis

Suppose you get into an auto accident involving a taxi company or ridesharing group. Your driver is responsible for negligence on their part. These companies typically have some form of insurance to cover injuries that can occur in an accident.

What Damages Can a Car Wreck Lawyer Help Recover?

When making a claim or filing a lawsuit through a car accident lawyer, you can attempt to recover economic and noneconomic damages for your losses sustained due to the accident.

Economic damages compensate you for easy-to-quantify losses, such as property damages, lost income, and medical expenses. You can use receipts, bills, medical records, and estimates as evidence for these damages.

Noneconomic damages are intangible losses due to the car crash. This category includes mental, emotional, and psychological harm. Noneconomic damages are usually harder to calculate than economic damages.

Information You Need to Give the Claims Adjuster

When an insurance adjuster asks you for details about the accident, only provide basic information, such as the where, when, and who.

Do not provide input about fault or make any unnecessary statements. Adjusters can use things you tell them against you. Should the adjuster try to press you for more information, tell them you must first speak with your car accident attorney.

What Is a Diminished Value Claim in California?

If you live in California, your car’s resale value automatically diminishes after a crash. No matter how well you repair your car and how good it looks and runs, its value will still be less than before the accident.

One way to recover the difference in value is through a diminished value claim.

The Meaning of Diminished Value

A motor vehicle’s diminished value is the difference between the vehicle’s pre- and post-accident values. In insurance terms, diminished value is the vehicle’s unrestored value even after the car has undergone repairs.

How to Make a Diminished Value Claim

To make a successful diminished value claim, you need an appraisal of your car’s value before the accident and after the repairs are complete. This value depends on how much less money you will get if you sell your vehicle.

Aside from your car’s accident history, a less-than-perfect repair, such as a mismatched paint job, can contribute to value loss.

How Insurance Companies Calculate Diminished Value

Calculating a vehicle’s diminished value differs per state. For instance, in California, insurance companies calculate your vehicle’s diminished value using the 17c formula. This formula works as follows:

  • Look up your car’s market value on relevant websites like the Kelley Blue Book and the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA). Enter your vehicle’s make, model, mileage, and damage details.
  • Multiply your car’s market value by 0.10.
  • Multiply the damage using the following options:
    • 0: Replaced or no structural damage
    • 0.25: Minor damage to panel and structure
    • 0.50: Moderate damage to panel and structure
    • 0.75: Major damage to panels and structure
    • 1: Severe structural damage
  • Multiply your car’s mileage using the following options:
    • 1: 0 miles (mi) to 19,999mi
    • 0.80: 20,000mi to 39,999mi
    • 0.60: 40,000mi 59,999mi
    • 0.40: 60,000mi to 79,999mi
    • 0.20: 80,000mi to 99,999mi
    • 0: 100,000mi and up

How to Calculate the Diminished Value of Your Car

You do not have to accept the amount your insurance company offers immediately. You can determine an alternative value through your calculation using the following:

  • Find your car’s market value on websites like the Kelley Blue Book and NADA.
  • Find similar cars with accident histories and get the average post-accident value of three or four such vehicles.
  • Deduct the vehicle’s market value with an accident record from the market value of a similar vehicle without an accident history. The result is your car’s actual diminished value.

Should you face resistance from your insurance company regarding your car’s diminished value, consider working with a car accident lawyer to help pursue your claim.

What Happens if You Are at Fault in a Car Accident in Florida?

Florida is a no-fault car insurance state. Regardless of who is to blame for the accident in this state, drivers can recover compensation for minor injuries from their respective insurers.

If you are one of the motorists involved in an accident, you can file an insurance claim under the state’s required PIP coverage, which can pay for the following:

  • 80% of reasonable medical costs due to crash-related injuries
  • 60% of lost income if the crash-related injuries keep you from working
  • $5,000 in death benefits due to a fatal collision (paid to your estate or relatives)

Working With or Without an Attorney

You do not need a lawyer to handle your personal injury claim. However, hiring one can be in your best interests in car accident cases.

Often, lawyers provide free consultation. This opportunity can give you an idea of what your claim will be like before you proceed and whether an attorney can offer legal advice to help you get what you need.

Why You Need a Lawyer to Settle Your Case

Even if you can represent yourself in a car accident dispute, having an experienced attorney increases your likelihood of obtaining fair compensation for your injuries. For instance, lawyers can understand the tactics insurers use to minimize your injuries or deny your claims.

Protecting Yourself Legally

Whether you live in an at-fault or no-fault state, remember to take legal precautions when dealing with insurance companies. Some ways to protect yourself are as follows:

  • Cooperating with law enforcement
  • Not leaving the scene immediately after the crash
  • Taking pictures and notes about the accident scene

Also, seek medical attention immediately. Doing so is vital for your health, safety, and the strength of your car accident claim.

Even if you are to blame for a car accident, do not immediately admit fault to an insurance adjuster. You have no obligation to explain to the other driver’s insurance company, even if you are at fault. Instead, contact a lawyer and avoid doing anything that can be used against you.

Trusted Automobile Defense Lawyer

Finding a trusted defense lawyer well-versed in personal injury laws in your state can be challenging. Personal Injury Lawyer Search is an online directory site that lets you find a car accident attorney anywhere in the U.S. from the comfort of your home.


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