In the aftermath of a car accident, it’s almost impossible to think straight. You may spend hours, even days or weeks replaying the incident and wondering what you could have done differently. It’s common to feel depressed, scared, even hopeless after you or a loved one has been injured on the road. While you may not know what to do next, there’s one thing you can and should do that will never lead you wrong: call a reputable auto accident attorney.
However, you may receive conflicting advice—especially if you’ve spoken with your insurer. After all, they may have explained that a lawyer will just cost you money and complicate things. If you have a nagging feeling that may need legal representation—you’re right.
When an Attorney Should Be Called
The short answer is that it is never too soon to call an auto accident attorney after you have been involved in a serious accident. This is especially true if any of these factors were involved:
- The crash involved other motorists, cyclists, or pedestrians
- The accident occurred in a construction zone
- The accident occurred in a school zone
- It is not immediately clear who is at fault
- The accident report or police report does not accurately describe the incident
- Someone was injured or even killed
You need to contact a lawyer before speaking with an insurance investigator, adjuster, or any other representative from an insurance company. Turning your case over to an attorney as soon as possible, helps to avoid stating something that they can use against you later. In fact, it is considered best practice to allow an attorney to negotiate all your dealings with the insurance company from the very beginning.
There are other red flags that indicate that you need to speak to a lawyer right away, and these primarily involve insurance. For example, if you are concerned about your insurance, lack of insurance, or liability limits, you should speak with an experienced attorney immediately. Other indications that you need legal assistance are if your insurance company:
- Connects you with their attorney
- Seems to be sending you mixed messages
- Brings up issues you were not previously aware of
However, there are some very minor accidents (e.g., fender benders) that may not require an attorney. If the damage to your vehicle is very minor or you can get your vehicle repaired with the money your insurance company offers you, then legal assistance may not be necessary. The same is true if neither you nor your passengers were injured or had to see a doctor after the accident. It might still be wise to have legal representation in case something unexpected does come up.
Why You Should Call an Auto Accident Attorney
Having an attorney on your side after you have been involved in an automobile accident provides you with numerous benefits, including the ability to focus on your recovery rather than negotiating with insurance agents or trying to understand the laws involved.
Dealing with Insurance Companies
A lawyer will negotiate with insurance companies. The insurance company is going to do their best to compensate you as little as possible, and they have tremendous resources at their disposal to help them to do just that. Hiring an attorney experienced with automobile collision cases puts you at an advantage when dealing with insurance company representatives.
Navigating the Laws Involved
There are laws to protect your rights and to help you obtain the compensation you deserve when you have been in a car accident. These laws can be very complicated, but an experienced accident attorney can help you navigate them. The insurance companies know how to make the laws work for them; you need an attorney who can make those same laws work for you. For example, there is a statute of limitations that limits how long after an accident you are allowed to file a claim for compensation. A lawyer is fully aware of this and can make sure your claim is formally filed in a timely manner.
Keeping Things Accurate
If there were aspects of the police report that were not correct, call an auto accident attorney to help you get those details officially corrected. In addition, if a police report puts you at fault when you were not at fault, you need an attorney to provide evidence of your innocence.
To Settle or Not to Settle
Another key benefit that comes from having an experienced attorney is an accurate estimate of the damages that you could recover, including things such as lost wages, loss of income earning potential, medical expenses, vehicular damage, and emotional pain and suffering. That information, combined with the value of the insurance policies against which your claims have been filed, will help you to decide whether to accept a settlement from the insurance company.
Estimating the Value of Your Case
A personal injury attorney can also estimate the potential damages you could recover and assess the value of the insurance policies you can file claims against. The attorney will take current and future medical expenses, lost wages, loss of future income earning potential, and emotional pain and suffering into consideration when figuring the potential value of your case. This will give you a more concrete idea about what your case might be worth and help you decide whether to accept a potential settlement from the insurance company.
If you have been involved in a car accident of any severity, then your best course of action is to contact an attorney as soon as possible. This will make your life much easier and will help you ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve under the law as your attorney negotiates with the insurance company and takes care of the legal details.