After you have suffered an injury in an accident, your mind is going in many different directions. One thing that you are thinking of is your potential financial compensation. Hiring a car accident lawyer puts you in a position of knowledge and power so you do not get taken advantage of. The goal is to know all the benefits available to you and to make the best of those benefits. The lawyer will make sure your injuries and all effects of the accident will be documented and presented properly to ensure you are treated fairly and get the compensation and treatment you deserve.
You Should Hire an Attorney as Soon as Possible
There are two ways to answer the question of when you need an attorney after a car accident:
- If you are wondering when you need an attorney after a car accident, the answer is almost always going to be yes (there is virtually no such thing as a “minor” car accident)
- You should hire an attorney as soon as possible after an accident to protect your legal rights and begin the process you need to follow to get financial compensation.
Chances are that you are reading this post in the days after your car accident. The dust has now settled, literally and figuratively. You are likely wondering what is next. You may be dealing with injuries after your accident and probably feel stressed. The last thing you may want to do is get knee-deep into the details of the legal process.
You May Not Want to Engage in the Legal Process, but You Must
While you need the money you can get in financial compensation if the accident was someone else’s fault, you may also be afraid of the legal process necessary to go through to get that money. You have heard how difficult the insurance company can be, and you might dread your dealings with them.
This time is the exact time when you need to get an attorney after a car accident. If you do not already have a New Port Richey personal injury lawyer, you should begin making calls to get one now. The legal process needs to start relatively quickly after a car accident for you to have a chance to obtain the best possible legal outcome.
You Should Have an Attorney to Help You Seek Compensation
First, you may be wondering if you need an attorney. If you suffered any type of injury or damage in the accident, it is a good idea to get legal help. Even if you think that you do not have a case, it is always better to talk to a lawyer and let them give you their opinion about your case. If your case is not strong, a lawyer will not want to take it. If a lawyer is willing to accept your case, it is a sign that you can get financial compensation. A lawyer will not agree to represent you if you have no chance of getting a settlement check.
Hiring a lawyer is the first step of your legal process. Once you agree to have a lawyer represent you, they will begin to investigate the accident and speak with the insurance company. Technically, the legal process can start without a lawyer, but it is certainly not advisable for you.
It Takes Time to Get a Settlement, so You Should Begin Now
Whenever a lawyer tells you that you may be eligible for financial compensation after an accident, it is only at the conclusion of a lengthy legal process. It can take months or years to get your money. It will certainly not take days or weeks. You can assume that the insurance company will take its time in responding to your claim.
If you send them a demand letter, it can be months before you even hear back with an initial response. Then, you will need to negotiate compensation, which can require multiple rounds of offers and counteroffers. The insurance company is not in any hurry because they know you are. They have what you want and need – the money that can cover your damages.
Dealing with the insurance company can take time, and your case can take even longer if you must file a personal injury lawsuit. There are also deadlines to file a lawsuit for a car accident claim, and you cannot miss them.
The sooner you begin, the sooner you can start that clock. Nothing happens quickly in a car accident case. Waiting to begin the process only postpones the time when you can get a check. Your financial position may worsen by the day as you wait for the money that you need.
Your Lawyer Can Help Prove Liability in Your Accident
The first part of every car accident claim is proving that someone else was to blame for the crash (also known as negligence). The cornerstone of your claim is the evidence that shows what happened. You must prove exactly what the other person did. Your own word is not enough. It must be backed up by evidence if you are trying to establish a fact.
You cannot pick things back up in a cold case, where too much time has elapsed. You only have limited time to collect evidence after a car accident. For example, you may lose track of the witnesses, and their recollections may fade in a brief period. Physical evidence will undoubtedly disappear in a matter of days or weeks, complicating your legal hurdles. Quickly hiring an attorney is the best way to get your hands on the evidence before you lose it.
The Insurance Company May Try to Rush the Legal Process
Even if you are not ready to start the legal process, the insurance company may not give you much choice. When the insurance company sees that it may be liable for a significant damages check, it may go into overdrive to try to cut its own bill. The insurance company has a number of tricks that it uses to either catch you unaware or to take advantage of you.
The other driver’s insurance company may reach out to you without you filing a claim. When they do that, that is not a sign that they want to pay you in full and quickly. It is a sign that they are up to something.
Insurance companies may pressure you and get you on the record as soon as possible. You do not have to speak with them directly, but you may not know that if you do not have a lawyer representing you.
You Should Deal With the Insurance Company on Your Own
The insurance company may want you to give a substantive statement about the accident. They want your description of what happened. An insurance company has experience at trying to trap you, taking things that you say out of context to try to deny you a financial recovery.
The insurance company may not even call you and directly ask you to give a statement. They may hide their true identity or try to ask you an innocent-sounding question. Before you know it, you may have said something that compromised your legal case for financial compensation. Once you say something, it is out there, and you cannot take it back. If your case goes to trial and you have to testify, the inside defense lawyer may try to use the statement to impeach your credibility.
Once you have an attorney in place, the insurance company must go through them. Your attorney will control who talks to you and with whom you can speak. You do not want to be approached by anyone for any reason.
Another favorite insurance company tactic is to pressure and rush you into a settlement agreement. Usually, the legal process takes time because that is the strategy that suits the insurance company. However, they may quickly look at your case and realize that they have an expensive problem on their hands. If they catch you unaware, they can take advantage of you by pressuring you to sign a settlement agreement.
Insurance Companies May Try to Sneak Things Past You
The insurance company may see a $100,000 claim and try to do everything they can to cut what they pay to $50,000 or less. They may even try to sneak some language in a form that offers you something that will release them from any further liability in connection with your claim. Once you sign away your legal rights, you do not have any other ability to go back and get more money.
You will be the one who loses if you move too fast to settle your claim without knowing how much it is worth. Your lawyer will know the value of the case, and they will keep things from moving too quickly. There have been too many times when the insurance company has cleared a claim off their books in short order because they have offered money that they pressured someone to accept. Your signature on a release form is binding, and you cannot go back on your word by saying that you were unaware of your rights when you signed it.
Being Without a Lawyer Raises Your Own Legal Risk
The longer you go without hiring a lawyer, the more likely you are to make a mistake. You do not get any mulligans or forbearance for errors that you make when you do not have a lawyer. Anything that you do can complicate your legal picture when you actually do try to seek compensation. For example, you may say something that can undercut the merits of your claim. You can post something on social media that the insurance company may find and try to use against you.
When you hire an experienced attorney, they will counsel you on what you should and should not do. Frankly, the less that you try to do, the less chance of a mistake that can be fatal to your case. Having an attorney on your side spares you from having to do much, if anything, on your own. While you may feel an inclination to do otherwise, you should sit back and let your attorney do the work.
Handling Things on Your Will Cost You Money
You should never make the same mistake that many people make after a car accident. They know that their lawyer will receive part of their settlement or jury award as their own compensation for their work. Thinking that they can save money, people may feel that they can keep more money in their own pockets by handling their own cases. If you try to do this, it may become the most expensive money that you have ever saved. Not only will you not save anything, but you will also lose quite a bit of money when you try to deal with an insurance company by yourself.
An insurance company wants to deal with you one-on-one. The reality is that they are never “one.” They are a highly functioning group of adjusters, statisticians, and lawyers with a time-honored way of doing things. One of their foremost rules is to try to fleece self-represented claimants.
The insurance company does this in one of two ways:
- They deny your claim in its entirety
- They pay you less than the actual dollar value of your claim
Underpaying happens far more often than you think. It is the standard business practice of the insurance company. If they pay you less than the value of your claim, they can book that extra amount as profits. They are known for paying self-represented claimants a fraction of the amount that they pay people who a lawyer represents.
When lawyers tell you that time is of the essence, they are not trying to frighten you. Instead, they are attempting to educate you about the difficulties that you may face in the legal process and encourage you to begin now. The longer you wait, the more difficult it may be for you to get full and fair compensation for your car accident injuries. The best time to act after an accident is right away. Contact a Florida personal injury lawyer at Lucas, Macyszyn & Dyer today.