The answer is that you should hire an attorney as soon as possible after an accident. However, many victims do not hire an attorney after a car accident for several reasons. Some victims assume hiring an attorney will prolong their case and make it more complex. Others think a lawyer will not get them the money they deserve.
The opposite is true because hiring an attorney after a car accident can move the settlement process along faster. You will also get more money for your settlement claim because insurance companies are less likely to negotiate with individuals than with attorneys.
When you have a local car accident attorney on your side, they will fight with the insurance company to ensure you get every penny your case is worth. The right car accident lawyer makes the process easier for you, and you can trust they will seek the best possible outcome for your case.
Other people worry they cannot afford legal fees. However, hiring an attorney will never break the bank since most car accident lawyers work on a contingency fee. When you hire a lawyer, they will not receive fees until they win your case, and you pay nothing out of pocket. This ensures that anyone can afford to hire a car accident lawyer right away. Meeting a car accident law firm costs you nothing but your time since car accident lawyers offer free consultations. You have nothing to lose by starting the process immediately.
While some people might try to handle a car accident claim independently, the insurance company will not be honest and give you a fair settlement without legal representation. Insurance companies regularly take advantage of unrepresented crash victims, and the business benefits, leaving victims responsible for their losses.
Once you have a lawyer on board, the insurer knows you will not settle for less than you deserve. You want a car accident attorney on your case from the very start. If you did not already hire a lawyer, do so immediately if:
You have a permanent injury
The first sign that you need to hire an attorney after a car accident is that you suffered a severe or permanent injury.
Catastrophic injuries from car crashes can include:
- Traumatic brain injury
- Spinal cord injury
- Severe burns
- Crush injuries
You will need substantial medical treatment for such injuries, including emergency trauma care, surgical procedures, and other invasive treatment. Many victims of severe injuries spend time in the ICU, hospital general admission, or inpatient rehabilitation centers. Even after all this, a victim might have lifelong effects from their injuries, including physical or cognitive disabilities.
A permanent injury does not only affect you but your family as well. A debilitating injury will affect your ability to earn a living and live independently. There will be a financial burden on the household and family caregivers. You will rely on your family and might even need in-home nurses to ensure you can complete your daily tasks. These nurses and in-home modifications are lifelong, and someone must take responsibility for the negligent actions that led to these conditions and losses.
The losses from a catastrophic injury can be immense, and they might exceed driver policy limits. You want a car accident lawyer who can identify all possible sources of liability, such as an employer of a driver that might have much more substantial insurance coverage. Many legal strategies help accident victims obtain the compensation they need for severe injuries.
You know the other motorist caused the crash, and the accident reports say the other person did, too. But the other person denies responsibility to their insurance company. The rival insurance company will use anything it can to back up the claim that you are at fault. Call a car accident lawyer when the other party tries to deny or shift blame.
Another situation involving complex liability issues is when there are multiple parties. While you and another driver are in an accident, there can also be a third or fourth vehicle. When there is a multi-car accident, liability will be highly complex. Each driver might point fingers at others.
Additionally, you must call a lawyer when a government entity bears some responsibility. Local municipalities must keep the road safe for all motorists. If a broken light or a stop sign is out of place, they are the responsible party for your collision. However, filing a claim against a local government is much more complex than a traditional motor vehicle accident claim, and you need a legal professional to handle this.
One other party that can complicate liability is the vehicle manufacturer. If defective part malfunctions and causes you to crash, you are not the responsible party. It will take an experienced car accident attorney to prove the vehicle manufacturer knew or should have known there was a product defect and did nothing to remedy the situation. Mechanics can also be liable if they install a part improperly.
When a range of parties can be at fault for an accident, you must consult with a car accident lawyer. The insurance company will challenge liability, and you need someone demonstrating who should be responsible for your injuries.
The driver failed to report the accident to their insurance company
By law, you must report a car accident to your insurance company (or better yet, have your attorney report it for you). You need to call a lawyer who focuses on car accidents when the negligent party does not correctly report the accident. It can signify that the negligent party does not want to take responsibility for their actions and is trying to avoid repercussions.
Your lawyer should report the crash and your injuries to all relevant insurance companies. This way, all information you provide to various insurers remains consistent, and adjusters cannot trip you up with complicated questions. Saying the wrong thing – even to your insurer – can jeopardize your claim. Once your lawyer informs the defendant’s insurer of your accident and liability claims, the insurer can reach out to their policyholder.
The insurance does not offer you a fair settlement
Many victims will wait until something goes wrong to speak with a car crash lawyer. While working with an attorney soon after the accident is best, not all victims do. The opposing insurance company will send you a settlement offer when you handle the claim independently. The initial offer is never enough to cover all of your losses. You can file a dispute and try to reach a better offer, but the insurance company will say that is the most they can offer. Some people even accept it.
An attorney knows better. Insurance adjusters will plug information into a computer that will then tell them how much they can spend on the claim. The insurance adjuster knows that while there is a maximum they can pay, they will benefit their employer if they spend less. When the computer spits out the range it can offer, the adjuster will start on the lower end, especially when there is no attorney. When the insurance company is in a rush to settle, it is a sign that they do not want to pay out what they should.
Another reason you should never take an initial settlement is you are unsure of your future losses. However, a car accident lawyer has financial experts who can calculate these losses for you. An injury can leave you out of work and earning less than you did before. Many victims think they will get better with time, but there is no improvement as time passes.
A car accident lawyer representing you often results in a significantly higher settlement than allowing the insurance company to handle the claim alone. There is no guarantee, but history shows a higher settlement offer is likely when a lawyer is in the mix.
An accident killed a loved one
The worst reason you will need to contact a lawyer after a car accident is when your loved one passes away. When another person causes the death of your loved one, it changes everything. Instead of an injury claim, the family must file a wrongful death claim to obtain compensation.
While no monetary compensation can bring a person back, it holds the negligent party responsible for their actions. Who can file a claim will depend on their relationship with the deceased. Most often, the spouse and children of the deceased are eligible to file a claim. Other parties can file a wrongful death claim in some circumstances.
Knowing the compensation you can get from a claim
A car accident claim aims to get compensation for your losses and other damages. While losses will vary, some common types of monetary compensation are available for accident victims.
Most often, you can get compensation for:
- Lost income: You will likely need to take time off work to attend medical appointments and recover. Victims might also never return to work in the same capacity they did before or at all. You must receive payment for the loss of earning potential and the lost time.
- Medical expenses: There will be a lot of medical appointments to attend and procedures to undergo. Additionally, you will need to take medication and buy medical devices to get around. All of these will not only cost you time but money. While your health insurance will cover some of these expenses, you must pay out of pocket for others and need compensation for them.
- Property damage: When your vehicle sustains damage, you must repair or replace it. You will also have other items within the car that suffer harm. A claim will need to include these losses as well.
- Pain and suffering: You can claim pain and suffering for the physical and emotional stress you suffer from the accident, plus other intangible losses.
While these are a few examples, you can get many other damages in a successful injury claim.
How a car accident attorney can help?
Personal injury laws are complex, and you need someone in your corner who knows the intricacies of the law. Depending on your accident, specific statutes and provisions can work in your favor that you might not know to exist.
Attorneys are on top of all these statutes so that accident victims can focus on getting better physically and emotionally. A car accident lawyer near you knows how all car accident laws work because they see them apply to cases day in and day out.
The other side will have a defense in mind, and you must have a lawyer on your side who can mitigate any possible defenses the insurance company presents. They may claim you caused the accident or, at a minimum, share fault when you did not contribute to it. Your lawyer can also step in when an insurance company challenges the severity of your injuries and losses to minimize your settlement.
The insurance company will do anything to prevent fully paying a claim, and without a lawyer handling your case, the insurer has the upper hand. When you contact an attorney after a car accident, you will have a fighter in your corner working to ensure you do not get the short end of the stick.
Car accident lawyers handle all communications and negotiations with insurance companies, reducing the chances you might make an error that jeopardizes your financial recovery. They can advise you on the sufficiency of settlement offers and recommend filing a lawsuit when necessary.
Contact a car accident lawyer in your area today to learn more about how they can assist you.