Car accidents are stressful and scary events that can leave you feeling confused and overwhelmed. You might have injuries, property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses to deal with. You might also have to deal with the other driver’s insurance company, who may try to minimize your claim or deny it altogether.
So who should you call first after a car accident: a lawyer or your insurance company? The answer depends on the circumstances of your accident, but in general, it’s a good idea to contact both as soon as possible. Here’s why:
Why You Should Call a Lawyer First
A lawyer is someone who can protect your rights and interests after a car accident. A lawyer can help you:
- Understand your legal options and the potential value of your claim
- Gather evidence to prove liability and damages
- Negotiate with the insurance company for a fair settlement
- File a lawsuit if necessary and represent you in court
A lawyer can also handle all the communication with the insurance company on your behalf, so you don’t have to worry about saying something that could hurt your case or accepting a lowball offer.
According to Forbes Advisor1, you should look for a lawyer who has experience with car accident cases, works on a contingency fee basis (meaning they only get paid if you win), communicates clearly with you, and has a winning track record.
You should call a lawyer as soon as possible after a car accident, preferably before you talk to the insurance company. This way, you can avoid making any mistakes that could jeopardize your claim or reduce your compensation.
Why You Should Call Your Insurance Company Next
Your insurance company is the entity that will pay for your damages if you have coverage for them. Depending on your policy, you may have coverage for:
- Medical expenses
- Property damage
- Rental car fees
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist protection
- Personal injury protection
Your insurance company may also provide you with a lawyer if you are sued by the other driver or their insurance company. However, this lawyer will only defend you against liability claims, not help you recover compensation for your own losses.
According to AllLaw2, most car insurance policies require you to notify your insurer of any accident as soon as possible, or within a certain time limit. Failing to do so could void your coverage or limit your benefits.
You should call your insurance company after you have consulted with a lawyer and followed their advice. You should also be careful about what you say to your insurer, as they may try to use your statements against you or offer you less than what you deserve.
What to Do After a Car Accident
Besides calling a lawyer and your insurance company, there are some other steps you should take after a car accident to protect yourself and your claim. These include:
- Checking yourself and others for injuries and calling 911 if needed
- Moving to a safe place if possible and turning on your hazard lights
- Exchanging information with the other driver, such as name, contact details, license plate number, and insurance information
- Taking photos and videos of the scene, the vehicles, the injuries, and any other relevant evidence
- Getting the names and contact details of any witnesses
- Seeking medical attention as soon as possible and keeping records of your diagnosis, treatment, and expenses
- Following up with your doctor and following their instructions
- Keeping track of your lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages
- Avoiding social media posts or comments about the accident
- Not admitting fault or apologizing to anyone
How to Choose the Best Car Accident Lawyer for Your Case
If you’ve been in a car accident and need legal representation, you might be wondering how to choose the best car accident lawyer for your case. Here are some tips to help you find the right one:
- Ask for referrals from friends, family, or other professionals who have used car accident lawyers before
- Do some online research and look for reviews, testimonials, ratings, awards, and credentials of potential lawyers
- Contact several lawyers and schedule free consultations with them
- Prepare some questions to ask them during the consultation, such as:
- How long have you been practicing car accident law?
- How many car accident cases have you won or settled?
- How much compensation did you obtain for your clients?
- How will you charge me for your services?
- What percentage of the recovery will you take as your fee?
- Will I have to pay any upfront costs or expenses?
- Will I have to pay anything if we lose the case?
- How will you communicate with me throughout the process?
- How often will you update me on the status of my case?
- How can I reach you if I have any questions or concerns?
- Who else will be working on my case and how can I contact them?
These questions will help you evaluate the lawyer’s experience, skills, reputation, fees, and communication style. You should choose a lawyer who makes you feel comfortable and confident in their ability to handle your case.
The Benefits of Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer
Hiring a car accident lawyer can make a big difference in the outcome of your case. A car accident lawyer can:
- Protect your rights and interests from the insurance company
- Help you get the maximum compensation for your damages
- Save you time and stress by handling all the legal aspects of your case
- Provide you with expert advice and guidance throughout the process
- Represent you in court if necessary and advocate for your best interests
According to Motor11, an auto accident lawyer can help you increase your chances of winning your case by:
- Going through the whole accident and aftermath to determine the value of your claim
- Taking over communication with the insurance company and helping you secure all the documentation necessary to support your case
- Gathering evidence to prove liability and damages, including witness and expert statements
- Negotiating with the insurance company for a fair settlement
- Filing a lawsuit if necessary and representing you in court
The Drawbacks of Not Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer
If you decide not to hire a car accident lawyer, you may face some disadvantages and risks. You may:
- Not know your legal rights and options
- Not know how much your claim is worth
- Not have enough evidence to support your claim
- Not be able to negotiate effectively with the insurance company
- Accept a lowball offer or no offer at all
- Miss important deadlines or make mistakes that could harm your case
- Not have anyone to represent you in court if needed
- Lose your chance to recover compensation for your damages
According to John Foy & Associates2, not hiring a car accident lawyer can result in:
- Getting less money than you deserve or need
- Having to deal with the insurance company on your own
- Having to pay for your own medical bills and other expenses
- Having to deal with the stress and hassle of handling your own case
How to Compare and Contrast with Similar Alternatives
If you are not sure whether you need a car accident lawyer or not, you may want to compare and contrast your options with some similar alternatives. These include:
- Settling a car accident claim without a lawyer
- Hiring a different type of personal injury lawyer
- Hiring a general practice lawyer
Settling a Car Accident Claim Without a Lawyer
Some people may choose to settle a car accident claim without a lawyer, especially if the accident was minor and the damages were low. This may save them some money on legal fees and allow them to resolve the case faster.
However, settling a car accident claim without a lawyer also has some drawbacks and risks. You may not know your legal rights and options, how much your claim is worth, how to gather evidence, how to negotiate effectively, or how to deal with the insurance company. You may end up accepting less money than you deserve or need, or losing your chance to recover compensation at all.
According to Forbes, if you want to settle a car accident claim without a lawyer, you need to:
- Determine the extent of your damages
- Identify the parties responsible for harming you
- Gather your evidence
- Negotiate with the insurance company
- Review and sign the settlement agreement
You also need to be aware of the statute of limitations, which is the deadline for filing a lawsuit in your state. If you miss this deadline, you will lose your right to sue.
Hiring a Different Type of Personal Injury Lawyer
Another option is to hire a different type of personal injury lawyer who handles cases other than car accidents. For example, you may find a lawyer who specializes in slip and fall accidents, medical malpractice, dog bites, or product liability.
Hiring a different type of personal injury lawyer may have some advantages. They may have more availability, lower fees, or more experience in certain aspects of personal injury law.
However, hiring a different type of personal injury lawyer also has some disadvantages. They may not have enough knowledge, skills, or resources to handle car accident cases effectively. They may not be familiar with the specific laws, regulations, and procedures that apply to car accidents. They may not have access to the best experts, witnesses, or evidence for your case.
According to Forbes Advisor1, you should look for a lawyer who has experience with car accident cases and has handled cases similar to yours. You should also ask them about their strategy, success rate, and communication style.
Hiring a General Practice Lawyer
A third option is to hire a general practice lawyer who handles various types of legal matters. For example, you may find a lawyer who deals with family law, criminal law, business law, or estate planning.
Hiring a general practice lawyer may have some benefits. They may have more flexibility, lower rates, or more rapport with you. They may also be able to help you with other legal issues that arise from your car accident.
However, hiring a general practice lawyer also has some drawbacks. They may not have enough expertise, experience, or focus to handle car accident cases successfully. They may not be up-to-date with the latest developments and trends in personal injury law. They may not have the necessary connections, tools, or support for your case.
According to Forbes Advisor1, you should look for a lawyer who has taken cases all the way to trial and has a winning track record of getting appropriate settlements and judgments from insurance companies. You should also ask them about their fees, communication style, and availability.
If you’ve been in a car accident, you should call both a lawyer and your insurance company as soon as possible. A lawyer can help you protect your rights and interests, while your insurance company can provide you with coverage for your damages.
However, you should call a lawyer first before talking to the insurance company. This way, you can avoid making any mistakes that could hurt your claim or reduce your compensation.
A car accident lawyer can help you get the maximum compensation for your damages by gathering evidence, negotiating with the insurance company, and representing you in court if needed.
To find the best car accident lawyer for your case, you should ask for referrals, do some online research, contact several lawyers, and schedule free consultations with them. You should also ask them some questions to evaluate their experience, skills, reputation, fees, and communication style.
Hiring a car accident lawyer can make a big difference in the outcome of your case. However, not hiring a car accident lawyer can result in getting less money than you deserve or need, having to deal with the insurance company on your own, having to pay for your own medical bills and other expenses, having to deal with the stress and hassle of handling your own case.