What is the Legal Process After a Car Accident? Can I Handle It Myself?

Determining whether to hire a lawyer or represent yourself after a car accident is a tough choice. Each car accident case is unique with different circumstances. Some car accident injury claims are too complicated or catastrophic to handle without legal help. However, with the right resources, some car accident cases with little to no injuries or property damage can be managed without legal counsel.

Understanding and knowing what to expect in the legal process after a car accident is essential. Here’s where our best car accident lawyers in The Bronx explain how to negotiate a favorable settlement on your own successfully, and when it’s in your best interest to hire a personal injury attorney with experience in car accidents.

  • Contact The Barnes Firm

    Fields marked with an * are required

When Can I Represent Myself After Being Injured in a Car Accident?

Whether your accident involved a fender bender or a minimal rear-end collision, many injury claims are relatively explicit. If you can answer the following question with a yes after your New York car accident, you may very well be able to handle the case on your own.

1.   Have you fully recovered from your injuries?

Victims of car accidents need to wait until their injuries are completely healed. The majority of injury claims that occur in accidents are bruises, whiplash, muscle and tendon sprains, and minor cuts. It’s crucial to wait until all injuries have improved because a minor injury like a sore neck can grow into something much more severe, like a herniated disc.

2.   Has the Insurer Acknowledged Full Liability?

The legal process can be handled much more efficiently when the insurance company accepts the liability entirely for their insured party. Once this part of the process is undertaken, all that’s left is the amount of the settlement money. To carry this out effectively, make sure you have the written proof of the insurance company accepting liability. You don’t know what the perpetrator could have said to misinform and skew the insurance company to sway the situation to protect themselves.

3.   Do You Have the Energy & Time to Handle Your Claim?

Managing a personal injury claim after a car accident can be a lengthy process that requires careful organization and a great deal of time to speak to insurance companies or other parties involved. If you’re still coping with pain and attending physical therapy to heal from your injuries, this process may be best managed by an experienced car accident attorney in The Bronx.

two toy cars demonstrating a car accident

What’s the Legal Process Like Handling a Car Accident Claim on My Own?

If you’ve healed from all minor injuries, bruises, aches, and pains, you can likely negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company. How much you can expect from your arrangement depends significantly on the extent of sustained damages caused by the party at fault.

Damages Typically Involved in Car Accident Claims Include:

  • Medical and therapy costs
  • Medical prescriptions, medications, or other out-of-pocket expenses
  • Property damage
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering

What Evidence Must I Collect in My Car Accident Claim in New York?

Clear and conclusive evidence that can’t be left open for interpretation is critical to making a substantial injury claim. As soon as you’re hurt, take notice of your surroundings and any evidence to further prove to the insurance company that their insured customer is the one at fault.

Here is what evidence you should collect after your car accident:

  • Photo evidence: Photos are valuable pieces of evidence as they can’t be altered by those involved. After the accident, look around the other vehicles involved, including your own, and take as many photos as possible to give the insurance company a clear understanding of the accident.
  • Medical records: When providing proof of medical attention, you must issue all records for any medical bills or receipts for out-of-pocket expenses directly related to the injury, like crutches or medications. These documents together are paramount in calculating the value of your claim.
  • Proof of wages lost: After your accident, notify your employer immediately and request a transcript of all lost wages, overtime pay, and a copy of the vacation days that you’ve lost due to your mandatory recovery period.
  • Property damage costs: Be sure to maintain all receipts or estimates on the costs of repairing your vehicle. Also, include receipts to emphasize the price of a rental car that you may have needed while waiting for your car to be repaired. All of this can be used to add to the final total of your settlement.
Male driver taking a picture of his car damage after being in a car accident for his insurance claim, with a witness in the background
Male driver taking a picture of his car damage after being in a car accident for his insurance claim, with a witness in the background

What Evidence Must I Collect in My Car Accident Claim in New York?

Clear and conclusive evidence that can’t be left open for interpretation is critical to making a substantial injury claim. As soon as you’re hurt, take notice of your surroundings and any evidence to further prove to the insurance company that their insured customer is the one at fault.

Here is what evidence you should collect after your car accident:

  • Photo evidence: Photos are valuable pieces of evidence as they can’t be altered by those involved. After the accident, look around the other vehicles involved, including your own, and take as many photos as possible to give the insurance company a clear understanding of the accident.
  • Medical records: When providing proof of medical attention, you must issue all records for any medical bills or receipts for out-of-pocket expenses directly related to the injury, like crutches or medications. These documents together are paramount in calculating the value of your claim.
  • Proof of wages lost: After your accident, notify your employer immediately and request a transcript of all lost wages, overtime pay, and a copy of the vacation days that you’ve lost due to your mandatory recovery period.
  • Property damage costs: Be sure to maintain all receipts or estimates on the costs of repairing your vehicle. Also, include receipts to emphasize the price of a rental car that you may have needed while waiting for your car to be repaired. All of this can be used to add to the final total of your settlement.
woman standing in front of a chalboard with question marks drawn in chalk around her head

How Do I Determine How Much is Fair Compensation After My Car Accident?

You don’t necessarily need a lawyer to demand compensation from an insurance company after an accident. In essence, calculating the desired amount in damages for your car accident involves calculating the total medical expenses, property damage, cost of ruined clothing, equipment, and lost wages. After you calculate that amount, multiply it two or three times for pain and suffering. Once you’ve completed this step, put it into writing and send it to the insurer, along with medical bills, records, receipts, witness statements, and any other evidence.

How Do I Negotiate a Final Settlement with the Insurance Company?

It’s likely that the insurance company will not immediately comply and send you a check for the requested amount. After your compensation claim, the adjuster often suggests a much lower counteroffer. You can either accept or further negotiate until you both are satisfied with the agreed-upon amount.

The process of negotiation for a minor injury can become drawn out. If the insurance company’s adjuster is not budging from the unreasonably low offer, then hiring outside legal help should be considered. If you’re experiencing difficulty negotiating with the insurance company after a car accident, you can consult with an attorney at any time, as long as you haven’t signed an agreement.

a person showing a car insurance policy and pointing with a pen where to sign
a person showing a car insurance policy and pointing with a pen where to sign

How Do I Negotiate a Final Settlement with the Insurance Company?

It’s likely that the insurance company will not immediately comply and send you a check for the requested amount. After your compensation claim, the adjuster often suggests a much lower counteroffer. You can either accept or further negotiate until you both are satisfied with the agreed-upon amount.

The process of negotiation for a minor injury can become drawn out. If the insurance company’s adjuster is not budging from the unreasonably low offer, then hiring outside legal help should be considered. If you’re experiencing difficulty negotiating with the insurance company after a car accident, you can consult with an attorney at any time, as long as you haven’t signed an agreement.

When Should I Consider Hiring an Experienced Attorney?

Car accident injuries that go beyond minor aches and bruising need an experienced personal injury attorney to negotiate a fair and favorable payout. A dedicated injury lawyer consults you through each step of the process and handles the negotiating for you. Insurance companies have the goal of offering the smallest amount of compensation possible and will do anything to avoid paying substantial demands, regardless of how severe your injuries are.

A qualified car accident lawyer in The Bronx can help you negotiate just compensation for high-dollar and extensive injury claims, including:

  • Catastrophic car accidents
  • Wrongful death claims
  • Injuries to children

For complex lawsuits such as these, you’ll need an attorney with the resources to pay for medical specialists, accountants, accident reconstruction experts, and any other evidence necessary to prepare for trial. It’s essential to partner with an attorney with extensive trial experience and a proven track record of successful cases and settlements, making an indisputable demand.

Contact The Barnes Firm for a Free Consultation After Being Injured in a Car Accident

The Bronx car accident attorneys with The Barnes Firm have fiercely advocated on behalf of car crash victims for years with demonstrated success in obtaining favorable compensation to help our clients recover. We are here to help you rebuild your life after suffering severe injuries and trauma due to a car accident.

We are proud members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and have successfully settled and litigated thousands of car accident cases. Our attorneys often help clients secure settlements that exceed the average. Speak with highly accomplished car accident attorneys today for a free case review by calling us or completing a contact form.

The Barnes Firm (800) 800-0000