When to Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident

A serious accident involving a vehicle can cause severe personal injuries resulting in lost wages and costly medical treatments. An accident of this severity will almost certainly require the professional guidance of a personal injury lawyer. However, suppose a motor vehicle accident or crash was less severe and only resulted in property damage. In that case, you may be questioning if you should still hire a car accident lawyer to assist you with the claims process.

What to Do After a Car Accident

A car accident scene can be chaotic and stressful. However, it is essential to try to remain calm and follow these steps for the best outcome.

  • Check for injuries – Take some time to assess yourself and any passengers in the vehicle for injuries.
  • Move to a safe place – If you are not injured, move to a secure location, such as a sidewalk.
  • Call 911 – Even in minor car accident cases, it is crucial to call the police so they can document the scene and complete an accident report. The accident report may form an essential part of a legal claim with your auto insurance.
  • Exchange information – If you feel safe communicating with the other vehicle’s driver, exchange basic information such as your names, insurance company, and driver’s license number.
  • Gather evidence – Use the camera on your phone to take images of the position of the vehicles, any visible damage, and any skid marks on the road. Take notes of the date and time of the accident and the direction the cars were traveling in.
  • Notify your insurer – Call your insurer to clarify what evidence you need to process your claim. Some auto insurance companies have a mobile phone app that guides you through collecting evidence at the accident scene.
  • Seek medical attention – Not all injuries are visible, so it is important to be checked by a doctor as soon as possible after the accident. A medical report may also be required for a successful personal injury claim.

Should I get an attorney after a car accident?

After you have finished dealing with the accident’s immediate requirements, you may be reflecting on whether you need to hire a lawyer to assist you with the car accident claim. While it is a personal decision, personal injury attorneys can ensure you receive a fair settlement for any damages sustained and ensure the at-fault driver is held legally accountable.

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What Not to Do After a Car Accident

Even minor accidents can be legally complex and determining the negligent driver is not always straightforward. To ensure you do not complicate the claims process, avoid making these common mistakes at the scene of the accident.

  • Do not discuss fault – Even if you feel you may be responsible for the accident, do not discuss, apologize, or accept responsibility for the accident.
  • Avoid emotional language and anger – It is vital to remain calm and not say anything that may impact your claim.
  • Do not enter into any deals – A driver may attempt to settle the accident without the involvement of insurance companies. Arrangements made with the other party at the scene may leave you paying significantly out of pocket.
  • Avoid discussing injuries – It may be challenging to determine the full extent of any injuries sustained without a medical professional’s assessment.

Reasons to Call a Car Accident Lawyer

A motor vehicle accident may leave you stressed, confused, and wondering if you need legal representation. You should phone a car accident lawyer right away if any of the following scenarios apply to your case:

  • Either party sustained an injury;
  • The party at fault is not able to be determined;
  • An accident that involves another party or vehicle, such as a truck driver, cyclist, or pedestrian;
  • The accident occurred in a school, construction or work zone;
  • The other party was uninsured or underinsured;
  • The insurance companies involved are challenging to work with; and/or
  • You disagree with the police report of the accident.

Why Do I Need an Attorney After a Car Accident?

Car accidents happen without warning and can turn your life upside down. You may have to seek medical treatment and take time off work to recover. In addition, dealing with an insurance claim alone can be time-consuming and stressful.

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Here are the top five reasons you should hire an attorney to deal with your claim:

1. An attorney can clearly explain the legal issues of your case.

Insurance policies can be complicated, and often there can be more than one insurance company involved in the case. Determining negligence and any legal responsibility can be confusing without the guidance of a professional attorney.

2. An attorney can assist in proving liability for any injuries or damages you sustained.

The law requires victims to prove fault when claiming injuries or damages. This means that the plaintiff needs to prove that the defendant was negligent and failed in their responsibility to provide a duty of care. However, the legal theory of negligence is complex and can be further complicated if more than one party was at fault for the accident and contributory negligence comes into play. An experienced car accident attorney will know precisely what evidence is required to prove your negligence claim. In addition, an attorney knows the legal process and can guide you through your claim, ensuring you receive the compensation you deserve.

3. An attorney will deal with the insurance company on your behalf.

Insurance companies are well known for trying to settle cases quickly and achieving the lowest settlement possible. As a result, car accident victims who do not have legal representation can often be left with a payout that does not sufficiently cover the damages sustained.

A car accident attorney will assist you in communicating with the insurance company and support you in preparing any statements and correspondence. Having professional legal representation will ensure you have the best chance of receiving a fair settlement.

4. An attorney will investigate and pursue all at-fault parties.

Depending on the car accident circumstances, several parties at fault could be liable for paying compensation. For example, if one of the drivers was acting in the scope of employment at the time of the accident, workers’ compensation or vicarious liability may be involved. Only a lawyer will be able to analyze your case in proper detail and ensure that all possible avenues for compensation are pursued.

5. An attorney can determine the actual value of your compensation claim.

Injuries and damages sustained in a car accident are not always immediately visible. An injury may also require ongoing medical treatment and result in a gradual loss of income or lifestyle activities. Therefore, it is essential to consider any future losses when examining a compensation claim. A personal injury lawyer understands how to calculate the true value of your compensation claim.

What to Provide to Your Car Accident Attorney

When you hire a car accident attorney, you will need to provide them with the following documentation:

  • The police report;
  • Any medical records and invoices relevant to the accident;
  • Policy details and contact information for your insurance company;
  • Any evidence gathered from the accident scene, such as photos, witness statements, and contact information from other parties involved;
  • Information about the details of the accident; and
  • Any financial documents or warranty paperwork relevant to the accident.

When to File a Claim for a Car Accident

Each state has a statute of limitations that determines how long you have after the accident to file a compensation claim or be charged for negligent behavior. Most states provide between two to three years to file a claim. The time generally starts on the day the accident occurred, so it is crucial to start your claim as soon as possible to avoid missing legal deadlines.

When to hire an attorney after a car accident

When to get an attorney for a car accident? A personal injury lawsuit and an auto insurance claim have different procedures and legal deadlines. Therefore, you should hire an attorney as soon as possible to allow time to file the separate allegations involved in the case within the statute of limitations in place. This is especially true if your case is complicated or there were injuries sustained in the accident. An attorney will also be able to guide you through the compensation process and defend you from a negligence claim if you have been accused of being the at-fault driver.

How Will a Lawyer Determine The Value of Compensation to Pursue?

Many factors may determine the value of a compensation claim. A lawyer knows to assess the actual value of your case, taking into account any future complications and expenses that may arise from the accident.

A lawyer may​​ analyze the following factors in determining compensation:

  • Past and future medical bills;
  • Any loss of income, including future losses;
  • A wrongful death claim, if you lost a loved one in the accident;
  • Physical pain and suffering;
  • Emotional and psychological distress;
  • Property damages; and
  • Punitive damages.

Conclusions

There is no doubt that car accidents can be traumatic and cause ongoing stress and legal issues. An attorney can provide protection and fight for you to receive the settlement and compensation you deserve. While the decision to hire an attorney after a car accident is personal, hiring professional legal representation can make your life after a car accident a lot easier.

For more information, visit the traffic blog on the Lawrina website.

Article by James Finsweet

James Finsweet is a Head of legal department in LawBrother Ltd. At Lawrina, James contributes his experience in law practice and shares opinions on law regulations and news.

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