Auto Lawyers: What They Do And When To Call Them

Auto lawyers represent car owners involved in legal disputes with manufacturers, motorists, and insurers. Learn what auto lawyers do and when to call one.

Sarah Edwards

Contributor

Reviewed By Adam Ramirez, J.D.

Editor

Read in 4 mins
Auto Lawyers: What They Do And When To Call Them

Americans love cars. According to government data, the U.S. had 110 million registered cars and motorcycles and 232 million licensed drivers in 2021. These vehicles and their owners create significant economic activity, from car sales to insurance premiums.

All this economic activity comes with legal issues. Drivers have disputes with auto manufacturers and sellers. They crash into motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists. They even get into disputes with their insurance companies. Auto lawyers represent car owners facing these legal problems.

What an Automobile Lawyer Does

The term “automobile attorney” is somewhat misleading since it crosses many legal practices. An auto attorney may deal with many of the following issues:

Defective Automobiles

All states have lemon laws for new vehicles. Some states even have lemon laws for used vehicles. A lemon law protects car buyers and lessors who end up with a vehicle that has chronic problems.

A typical law gives the manufacturer or dealer a limited number of opportunities to repair the vehicle before allowing the owner to request that they replace or repurchase the vehicle.

Vehicle owners also have warranty rights. Manufacturers and dealers will often refuse to cooperate with lemon law and warranty claims until the owner retains a lawyer to represent them.

Product Liability

Product liability also deals with defective vehicles. But instead of seeking help with chronic breakdowns, the vehicle owner requires injury compensation after the defective vehicle harmed them. Some common defective products that result in injuries include:

  • Airbag inflators
  • Brakes
  • Tires
  • Driverless control systems

Manufacturers often fight hard against these cases because they face such enormous liability. Millions of products could contain the same defect, resulting in hundreds or even thousands of claims against the manufacturer in the form of individual and class action lawsuits. A product liability lawyer helps injured consumers stand up to billion-dollar auto manufacturers.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

The U.S. had over 6.1 million auto accidents in 2021. These crashes caused almost 2.5 million injuries and 43,000 deaths. These crashes cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars in medical care and lost productivity. Injured motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists also incurred bills and lost paychecks due to their physical and mental trauma.

Auto accident lawyers pursue injury claims against insurers and at-fault drivers. Most states require vehicle owners to carry bodily injury liability insurance. After a crash, accident victims file claims with the liability insurer seeking compensation for their economic and non-economic losses, including:

  • Past and future medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Diminished future earnings due to long-term disabilities
  • Out-of-pocket expenses for injury-related costs like ambulance charges
  • Pain and suffering

An auto accident lawyer analyzes crashes to determine the strength and value of injury claims. If you have a case worth pursuing, the lawyer prepares insurance claims for injury compensation, negotiates settlements, and files lawsuits when insurers refuse to settle.

Bad Faith Insurance

Insurance companies have a legal duty to review claims promptly and in good faith. If the claimant proves liability, the insurer should offer a fair settlement rather than unreasonably delaying or denying claims.

At the same time, insurers have a financial incentive to pay as little as possible for claims. Lower loss ratios — the money paid for claims compared to the premiums collected — mean higher profits for the insurer.

Sometimes, insurers cross the line, placing their financial interests ahead of their legal duties. You should not assume that only smaller insurance companies engage in these practices. Claimants have accused some of the largest insurance companies in the U.S. of bad faith practices.

Bad-faith insurance lawyers use procedures in the state’s insurance code, including complaints to the insurance commission and even lawsuits, to pursue remedies for claimants.

Do I Qualify for

Accident Compensation?
Free Case Review

How to Find Auto Lawyers Near Me

When looking for an automobile attorney, you should first think about the nature of your legal problem. Most lawyers do not classify themselves as “auto attorneys,” even if they deal primarily with auto-related cases. Instead, they might consider themselves as any of the following types of lawyers:

  • Consumer protection
  • Product liability
  • Personal injury
  • Insurance
  • Contract

If you can determine which type of practice applies to your situation, you can find a lawyer by:

  • Asking for referrals from friends and family members
  • Calling a lawyer referral service
  • Searching online

You can also use legal education resources, like ConsumerShield, to review your case and connect you with a lawyer.

Learn More About Auto Lawyers From ConsumerShield

For many people, their cars are major purchases. Naturally, they expect a lot from them, from protecting them in a crash to providing reliable transportation.

ConsumerShield is dedicated to educating consumers about their legal options. Contact us for a free case evaluation and a referral to a lawyer who may be able to help with your auto-related legal issues.

Sarah Edwards's profile picture

Sarah Edwards

Contributor

Sarah Edwards is a seasoned legal writer with more than a decade of experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • If you have the following legal disputes involving your vehicle or its use, you may need an auto lawyer:

    • Auto accidents
    • Defective vehicles
    • Automobile fraud
    • Bad faith insurance disputes

    You should search for a lawyer based on the type of dispute since auto attorney and auto lawyer are uncommon terms.

  • Auto accident lawyers typically charge contingency fees. This fee is a percentage of the compensation recovered. Contingency fees vary based on the case and the lawyer’s reputation. The advantage of a contingent fee is that you do not pay any legal fees unless you win or settle your case.

  • You probably need a consumer protection automobile attorney to deal with disputes with dealerships. Lemon laws protect consumers who purchase chronically malfunctioning vehicles.

    Vehicle warranties also give consumers rights against manufacturers and retailers of defective cars. Search for terms like “auto fraud attorney near me” or “lemon law lawyer.”

Stay up to date

Get updates on all of our legal news on lawsuits, research and legal updates.