Expert advice and guidance on car accidents, claims, no fault accident settlements, insurance and hiring a car accident lawyer.
Assigning fault in any car accident can often be a really tricky business. Even if you are convinced you were not at fault, it is quite likely that the other sides insurers / lawyers may wish to put some of the blame on to you directly or indirectly, as a way of minimising their own clients liability.
This is standard practice in many car accident claims, but does not necessarily mean that you need a lawyer. There is a bigger question of when and how you should employ a car accident lawyer, that this question should fit into the context of.
Most car accident lawyers take on cases where they will be able to win significant damages with regard to personal injury claims.
Contingency Fee Arrangements
Many lawyers work on what is known as a contingency fee basis, sometimes called a no win no fee arrangement, where a lawyer does not charge you an upfront fee, but takes their payment directly from any damages awarded to you.
It is worth noting, that even with some contingency fee cases, the client may be required to pay some upfront costs in certain circumstances, such as if the case goes to court. This should be specified and made clear in any contingency fee arrangement.
A car accident lawyer may be able to help other elements of a car insurance claim, but their main focus is going to be pursuing damages for a personal injury settlement. If they do not feel that they have a significantly good case, they are unlikely to take your claim on a contingency fee basis.
This means that they would only take your claim on the basis of a normal fee related payment systems, which changes the ballgame completely.
Fault / No Fault
This then comes back to the question of if you need a lawyer for a car accident that wasn’t your fault, or where you believe you weren’t to blame.
The reality is, that in most car insurance claims the insurance companies will do all they can to minimise costs and settlements, and in some instances this may work to your benefit, and in other instances it may work against you.
The question of whether you need a car accident lawyer or not will to a large extent depend on with you think your insurance company is on your side, or they think they are simply trying to avoid any payment or settlement, and are likely to shaft to in the process.
In any insurance claim for a car accident, where you could potentially be at risk of paying significant liability damages, then it is crucial to know whether or not the insurance company has your back, or whether they are likely to drop you at the first opportunity.
If you do not feel they are on your side, then hiring a car accident lawyer may be your only option. In this case get absolute clarity from the lawyer about their fee structure, and what length of time they anticipate having to spend on the claim.
The obvious problem with this is that it is an open-ended approach, and you may well need at some point to cut losses if their fees exceed what you believe to be the benefit of hiring them.
Car Accident Lawyer Evaluation
Most car accident lawyers will offer an initial evaluation of your claim, either on-line, by phone or in person. This is always well worth taking advantage of, for a number of reasons.
Firstly you can gauge the attitude to you and whether or not they genuinely are interested in taking place, or whether they simply see you as fodder they can use to milk the system and make money out of.
Unfortunately some lawyers are like this, although not the majority, but the ones that are, are worth avoiding.
An evaluation gives you an opportunity to get a lawyer’s take on all aspects of your case. Even if the interest is mainly focused on any personal injury issues, they will also be able to give you some degree of clarity as to the issue of blame and who is at fault.
This may be an invaluable part of the process of deciding whether or not you need to hire a car accident lawyer, and if so on what basis.
The benefits of a good car accident lawyer can be incalculable, not just financially but in terms of helping you to come to terms with all the elements of any auto accident settlement.
Questions to ask a Car Accident Lawyer
Knowing what type of questions to ask a car accident lawyer is really important. You want to know that they have experience of winning cases, and many car accident lawyers put settlements and judgements on their website, normally with dates and amounts won.
This can be a useful guide to their track record, but may also merit further independent investigation.
Many car accident lawyers have reviews on their website, and it is probably safe to assume that these are genuine. Look for reviews especially by other lawyers, as this is normally a fairly good indication of the firm’s capabilities.
Decide on whether you want a local specialist firm, or a major corporate one with local offices. Both will have different approaches in terms of being personal/impersonal, but also benefits in terms of breadth and / or lack of expertise.
It is also worth asking if the car accident lawyers have different types of personal injury claims experience not just related to cars.
Many car accident lawyers also cover different types of accidents such as truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, bad faith insurance, brain and spinal injury claims etc.
The more experience these lawyers have in different areas of personal injury claims the more likely they are to bring the breadth of that experience to bear on your claim.
Whilst his other areas of personal injury claims may not directly bear on yours, the experience the lawyers have will give them a real sense of context, and let them bring an approach that could add significant benefits to your claim.
Main Challenges of Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer
The main challenges relate to cost, whether or not you actually need one, how good they are and how you get out of any agreement with them if you need to.
One of the elements of any contingency fee agreement that you may enter into, is that once started you are unlikely to be able to get out of it before any settlement has agreed, without paying significant compensation to the law firm involved.
Many car accident lawyers take this approach to make sure that the initial work they do in terms of trying to obtain a settlement cannot be undone or simply lost because you decide to walk away from it.
They will tie you into it and make sure that you cannot get out of it until any settlement has been agreed.
Given that most personal injury claims have the potential to go on for a long period of time, often many years, this can sometimes be a significant emotional drain on you as a person, and certainly a factor that should be taken into account.
GAP Insurance provides cover for the difference between what your vehicle may be worth in the event of an insurance claim, and any outstanding balance left on your loan or lease agreement.
In the event of your vehicle being written off, or damaged to such an extent that it is no longer usable, the payout from your insurance company is likely to be significantly less than the current balance left on your finance deal.
Ford provides two types of coverage of this type of insurance. Both are in effect optional if you had arranged finance for your vehicle, but are included in the cost of the lease agreement if you lease it.
This is the standard fort cover, and will work like any other type of insurance, in terms of level of cover and paying a premium for it. At time of writing (September 2018) the coverage limit is the lesser of US dollars 125,000 or 150% of MSRP.
The coverage can apply to both new and used vehicles, Is normally for a term of up to 96 months and includes cover of up to $1000 of your insurance deductible.
Please note that these terms and conditions can change over time, and should be checked at time of purchase.
That are also some exclusions to the benefits of the cover, normally relating to errors around fraud or intentional damage, or if there are problems relating to the payment of the vehicle such as a repossession or legal conversation by a public official.
This is A similar policy to the GAP Coverage policy outlined above: but also includes a dealer credit of up to US$1000 towards a cost of a replacement vehicle at a Ford dealer.
Whilst this may seem attractive, that in mind that any decision regarding price of a new vehicle is likely to include A significant discount on any manufacturers recommend price, so the value of the Advantage $1000 replacement Credit is probably fairly questionable.
Gap Insurance and Ford Credit Leasing
When you use a vehicle you effectively rent it for hire it for a period of time, and do not have any stage hold little to the vehicle.
As such, Ford retain title, and need to make sure that their investment is secure. They will arrange Gap Insurance and include the cost in the lease agreement.
This does not mean that they are necessarily paying for it, simply that it is not considered an optional extra.
When leasing any Ford Vehicle, it is worth remembering that all areas of the lease agreement are open to negotiation, including the cost of insurance.
The cost of Ford GAP insurance is thankfully normally much less than people think it is, largely because people assume that because it is a type of auto insurance it is going to be astronomical.
In fact the cost is normally fairly minimal, but it is an important form of insurance that ford credit and most manufacturers will insist the customer has in place as part of any agreement to purchase or lease a vehicle.
GAP insurance comes into effect only in the event of an accident or situation for the car is lost or stolen and is in effect a complete write-off.
It is probably easier to understand the thought of in terms of purchasing a new car, but can equally apply to buying a car of any age or condition, or leasing a car or truck.
When purchasing a new car it is well-known that as soon as it leaves the showroom it would depreciate by a certificate amount, often thought of to be between 10 and 15%.
Over time it will further depreciate in value, often quite significantly in its early years and if there is a high mileage on it.
Ford Gap Insurance Cost
In the event that it is either to be damaged or stolen or in some other way a complete write-off the insurance value will only reflect its market value at the time of loss.
In truth insurance companies tend offer figures at the very low end of the market value and often do not budge.
What this means in practice is that there is normally a significant GAP between what is left on the car laden which will have been based on the final sale price of the vehicle, and what is payable either insurance company at the time of loss.
This means that there will be an outstanding debt which will still be owed by the customer. GAP insurance is designed to cover the difference between the two, and in effect on the gate the debt which would otherwise be left in effect as an unsecured loan.
When releasing a vehicle from Ford, whether or not for credit is used, it is a really good idea for the customer to be aware of what the various insurance comments are likely to be on the vehicle, as they may well be different from what the customer would expect if they bought the vehicle outright, and may well have a significant impact on the cost of leasing vehicle, and of its running costs.
As with any auto insurance, it is essential to first to find out what the legal comments are in terms of liability insurance for you live.
If you are leasing vehicle out of state, then it is crucial to make sure that you meet the insurance requirements of the state in which you are leasing the vehicle as well as where you live.
Although missing the legal minimum requirements in terms of liability insurance is essential, when leasing a vehicle from Ford they will inevitably require that you take out a much more comprehensive form of insurance that covers all types of damage to the vehicle itself in the event of it being damaged or written off.
The wording as to what type of insurance is required will vary depending upon where you live, but it is crucial to have an understanding of what Ford credit will require.
Ford Leasing Insurance Requirements
A Ford dealership is unlikely to insist on any particular insurance company, but they will require proof that such auto insurance has been effected before any lease agreement can be signed off or entered into.
It is therefore crucial to get an idea from Ford of exactly what insurance comments they have regarding leasing prior to making a formal approach or application. the other type of insurance that will also be required is what is known as gap insurance.
Gap Insurance is a type of insurance policy that covers the difference between the drive away value of the vehicle, and it’s actual value if it is damaged or stolen or lost in any way shape or form. It effectively covers the depreciation of the vehicle from the moment it leaves the showroom until the moment the insurance company agree its market value.
This type of insurance will most definitely be required by Ford credit on any leasing program. What is important to know is sometimes the cost of it is included in the lease agreement, other times not.
It is therefore important to find out if it is covered, and if so the cost. If it is not covered, then it will be a requirement by Ford that there is such a policy put in place. At that point it is important to make sure that you get quotations from any insurance company that Ford has contacts with, or any other individual insurance company is going to offer such a quotation.
Arranging insurance for a Ford Lincoln is quite often done as part of a process of buying or leasing the vehicle, and the cost involved in the joints should be factors in as part of the overall cost when needing to apply for Ford credit or credit from any other finance source.
When buying or leasing any Ford Lincoln, it should be remembered both what the legal dance for third-party liability insurance are in the area that the car is being bought and will be used.
Also that whoever is providing credit may well require additional levels of insurance cover to be purchased, referring to liability insurance, collision insurance and comprehensive insurance. The cost of any car or auto insurance can vary considerably, depending on on the individual circumstances of the individual, and the company or Lloyd’s syndicate which is approached for a quote.
It is worth remembering, that Ford will often have special arrangements with certain insurance companies who will agree to provide preferential rates for potential for customers who buy or lease any Ford vehicle including a Lincoln.
Remember that these rates are preferential in the sense that they are lower than their normal rates, but not necessarily lower than other companies. The best advice when looking to get any type of auto insurance for a Ford Lincoln is to get different quotes from different sources and compare them on a like-for-like basis.
This is especially true when buying a new Lincoln or leasing one, as the dealership may well include certain extras as part of the sale or lease deal which otherwise might be included in some type of insurance policy.
Some auto insurance policies include cover for things such as a hire car in the event of the owners car being unable to be used for any reason such as an accident, or some type of recovery service for vehicle and occupants in the event of an accident or mechanical breakdown.
This can often include some type of accommodation and expenses cover. These types of additional extras are often included, sometimes free and sometimes at a cost, in various types of sale or lease agreements. It is worth being clear what is included and what is not, before approaching any company for a quote on auto insurance.