If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you may be wondering whether you need to hire an attorney to handle your claim. The answer is not always clear-cut, but there are some situations where getting legal help can make a big difference in the outcome of your case. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about when to get an attorney for a car accident, including:
- The benefits of hiring an attorney
- The types of cases that require an attorney
- The factors to consider when choosing an attorney
- The steps to take after a car accident
By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of when and how to get an attorney for a car accident, and what to expect from the process.
The Benefits of Hiring an Attorney for a Car Accident
Hiring an attorney for a car accident can have many advantages, such as:
- Protecting your rights and interests. An attorney can advise you on your legal rights and options, and help you avoid common pitfalls and mistakes that could harm your claim. For example, an attorney can prevent you from accepting a lowball settlement offer, signing away your rights, or admitting fault when you shouldn’t.
- Handling the communication and negotiation with the insurance company. An attorney can take over the communication with the insurance company on your behalf, and handle all the paperwork and documentation required to support your claim. This can save you time and stress, and prevent you from saying or doing anything that could jeopardize your case. An attorney can also use their skills and experience to negotiate a fair and reasonable settlement for your damages, or take your case to trial if necessary.
- Gathering and presenting evidence to prove your case. An attorney can help you gather and organize all the evidence needed to prove your case, such as police reports, medical records, witness statements, expert opinions, photos, videos, and more. An attorney can also present this evidence in a clear and persuasive way to the insurance adjuster, judge, or jury, and counter any arguments or defenses raised by the other party.
- Maximizing your compensation. An attorney can help you calculate the full extent of your damages, including economic damages (such as medical bills, lost wages, property damage, etc.) and non-economic damages (such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, etc.). An attorney can also help you pursue additional compensation if there are aggravating factors in your case, such as punitive damages for reckless or malicious conduct by the other party.
The Types of Cases that Require an Attorney for a Car Accident
Not every car accident case requires an attorney. If you were involved in a minor fender bender with no injuries and minimal property damage, you may be able to handle the claim on your own. However, there are some types of cases that are more complex and challenging and would benefit from professional legal assistance. These include:
- Cases involving serious injuries or fatalities. If you or someone else suffered serious or life-threatening injuries in the car accident, such as broken bones, head trauma, spinal cord damage, internal bleeding, organ damage, amputation, paralysis, or death, you should consult an attorney as soon as possible. Serious injuries can result in significant medical expenses, long-term disability, reduced earning capacity, and other losses that require expert evaluation and documentation. Additionally, serious injuries can increase the likelihood of disputes and litigation with the insurance company or the other party.
- Cases involving multiple parties or unclear liability. If the car accident involved more than two vehicles or parties (such as pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, etc.), or if it is not clear who was at fault for the accident (such as in a rear-end collision, a left-turn collision, or a hit-and-run accident), you should seek legal advice from an attorney. Multiple-party accidents can complicate the determination of liability and the allocation of damages among the parties involved. Furthermore, some parties may have limited or no insurance coverage, which can affect your ability to recover compensation from them.
- Cases involving special circumstances or issues. If the car accident involved any special circumstances or issues that could affect your claim, such as drunk driving, distracted driving, road defects, weather conditions, defective vehicle parts, or violations of traffic laws, you should contact an attorney for guidance. These factors may require additional investigation, evidence, or expert testimony to prove your case.
The Factors to Consider When Choosing an Attorney for a Car Accident
Once you have decided that you need an attorney for your car accident case, the next step is to find the best one for you. There are many factors to consider when choosing an attorney, such as:
You want an attorney who has a lot of experience in handling car accident cases, especially ones that are similar to yours. You can ask the attorney how long they have been practicing personal injury law, how many car accident cases they have handled, and what their success rate is. You can also check their credentials and qualifications, such as their education, training, certifications, awards, and memberships in professional associations.
You want an attorney who has a good reputation in the legal community and among their past and current clients. You can ask the attorney for references or testimonials from previous clients, or look for online reviews and ratings on websites such as Google, Yelp, Avvo, or Martindale-Hubbell. You can also check if the attorney has any disciplinary actions or complaints against them on your state bar association’s website.
You want an attorney who charges reasonable and transparent fees for their services. Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means they only get paid if they win your case or secure a settlement for you. The typical contingency fee is around 33% of the recovery amount, but it may vary depending on the complexity and risk of your case. You should ask the attorney for a written fee agreement that explains how they charge their fees, what expenses they cover, and what happens if you lose your case or decide to switch attorneys.
You want an attorney who communicates clearly and effectively with you throughout your case. You should ask the attorney how they prefer to communicate with you (such as phone, email, text, etc.), how often they will update you on your case status, and who else will be working on your case (such as paralegals, assistants, investigators, etc.). You should also ask the attorney how they will answer your questions and address your concerns, and how long they will take to respond to your inquiries.
You want an attorney who makes you feel comfortable and confident in their abilities and professionalism. You should ask the attorney about their approach and strategy for your case, and how they will involve you in the decision-making process. You should also pay attention to how the attorney treats you during your initial consultation and subsequent interactions. Do they listen to you attentively? Do they show empathy and compassion? Do they respect your opinions and preferences? Do they explain things in a way that you understand?
The Steps to Take After a Car Accident
If you have been involved in a car accident, there are some steps that you should take to protect yourself and your potential claim. These include:
The first thing you should do after a car accident is to call 911 and report the accident to the authorities. This will ensure that you get medical attention if needed, and that the police will come to the scene and document the accident. A police report can be very helpful in establishing liability and damages later on.
You should exchange information with the other driver(s) involved in the accident, such as their name, address, phone number, license plate number, driver’s license number, insurance company, and policy number. You should also get the contact information of any witnesses who saw the accident or its aftermath.
Take pictures and videos:
You should take pictures and videos of the accident scene, the vehicles involved, the damage, the injuries, the road conditions, the traffic signs, and any other relevant details. These can serve as valuable evidence for your claim.
Seek medical attention:
You should seek medical attention as soon as possible after the accident, even if you don’t feel any pain or symptoms right away. Some injuries may not manifest until hours or days later, and delaying treatment can worsen your condition and affect your claim. You should follow your doctor’s instructions and keep all your medical records, bills, and receipts.
Notify your insurance company:
You should notify your insurance company of the accident as soon as possible, but do not give them any statements or sign any documents without consulting an attorney first. Your insurance company may try to minimize or deny your claim, or pressure you into accepting a lowball settlement offer. An attorney can help you deal with your
Filing a claim with the insurance company:
You should file a claim with the insurance company of the party who caused the accident, or with your own insurance company if you have collision coverage or live in a no-fault state. You should provide them with the basic information about the accident, such as the date, time, location, and parties involved, but do not admit fault or give any statements without consulting an attorney first. The insurance company will assign an adjuster to your claim, who will investigate the accident and determine liability and damages.
Negotiating a settlement:
The insurance adjuster will make you an initial settlement offer, which may be lower than what you deserve. You should not accept the first offer without reviewing it carefully and discussing it with your attorney. Your attorney can help you evaluate the offer and negotiate a higher amount that reflects the true value of your claim. This may involve presenting more evidence, challenging the adjuster’s assumptions, or using alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation or arbitration. The negotiation process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on the complexity and severity of your case.
Filing a lawsuit:
If you and the insurance company cannot reach a satisfactory settlement, you may decide to file a lawsuit against the party who caused the accident. This will require you to follow the rules and procedures of the court system in your jurisdiction, such as filing a complaint, serving the defendant, conducting discovery, attending pre-trial motions and conferences, and preparing for trial. A lawsuit can take a year or more to resolve, depending on the court’s schedule and the parties’ willingness to cooperate. However, most lawsuits are settled before trial, as both sides may prefer to avoid the uncertainty and expense of litigation.
Getting an attorney for a car accident can be a smart decision that can help you protect your rights and interests, handle the communication and negotiation with the insurance company, gather and present evidence to prove your case, and maximize your compensation. However, not every car accident case requires an attorney. You should consider the severity of your injuries, the complexity of your case, the reputation and experience of the attorney, and the cost and benefit of hiring an attorney before making your choice.
If you have been injured in a car accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence or recklessness, you should contact a qualified and experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. A car accident attorney can evaluate your case for free and advise you on the best course of action. Don’t wait too long to get legal help, as there may be deadlines and statutes of limitations that apply to your claim.
To find the best car accident attorney in your area, you can use our online directory or fill out our contact form. We will connect you with a top-rated car accident attorney who can help you get the justice and compensation you deserve. Don’t let a car accident ruin your life. Get an attorney today and get your life back on track.