The time following a car accident can be confusing and stressful. Your vehicle is likely damaged, and you may have sustained physical injuries due to the wreck. If your injuries were particularly severe, you might be facing time away from work and significant medical expenses.
Some people try to navigate the aftermath of a car accident on their own by submitting claims to their insurance provider and handling documentation of the wreck.
However, those unfamiliar with the legal system in their state may make costly mistakes. They may accept smaller settlements than they are due or—even worse—have their claims denied outright.
If you’re wondering when to get a lawyer after a car accident, it’s never a bad idea to ask for free legal assistance. The skilled attorneys at Morgan & Morgan are available nationwide and can provide you with a free consultation. Contact us today using our simple online form.
Why Do I Need an Attorney After a Car Accident?
In the time following a car accident, it’s not uncommon to feel unsettled and unsure what to do. You could be dealing with medical treatment, a wrecked vehicle, and time away from your regular job.
However, don’t rely on your insurance provider to process your accident claim and provide you with a reasonable settlement. You may be leaving yourself open to less compensation than you are entitled to. During the claim process, mistakes can be made, leading to reduced monetary compensation.
If you’re wondering when to get a lawyer after a car accident, there are a few situations when you should always do so. These include:
Insurance Company Isn’t Helpful
In some cases, an insurance adjuster can try to undermine your claim. For example, they may ask you to sign a medical statement allowing them to access all of your medical records, both before and after the accident.
If you sign the statement, they may use evidence of prior treatments to say that the injury wasn’t entirely caused by the car accident. This can substantially reduce any type of claim you would otherwise be entitled to collect.
Adjusters may also ask you to submit a written statement of your account of the accident. If you choose to provide this, they may review the statement for evidence that you may have been at least partially at fault for the accident. This can lessen the final amount of compensation you may otherwise be able to receive.
There Was a Death
Anytime a fatality occurs due to a car accident, you should consult a lawyer. Death due to a wreck will likely lead to a lawsuit and could impact anyone involved in the collision.
Consulting with an attorney can provide you with the assistance you need to move forward. If you were at fault for the accident, an attorney could provide you with representation if you are subject to a legal claim.
You Have Been Injured
If you’ve been hurt due to a car accident, you should seek the help of an attorney. This is especially true if your injuries are severe, disfiguring, or likely to leave you unable to work for a long time.
A lawyer can assist you with preparing an insurance claim to collect medical expense reimbursement, damages from lost wages, and any other type of compensation you may be entitled to.
How Can an Attorney Help After a Car Accident?
A skilled lawyer familiar with state personal injury law can be very helpful after a car accident. They will be able to advise you on your legal options and provide you with representation. Here are the ways an attorney can help you after a collision.
Assembling Your Insurance Claim
Rather than go it alone, it’s smart to have an attorney assist you with your personal injury claim after a car accident. Since they work with insurance providers and adjusters regularly, an attorney will understand the claim process and know what to provide as evidence to support your case.
They can also work with your healthcare providers, workplace personnel, police department, and any other entities to assemble the details for your dispute.
Determining the True Value of Your Injury
Sometimes it’s hard to know when to get a lawyer after a car accident. Those who have sustained a serious or catastrophic injury will need experts to assess the economic value of their wounds.
A lawyer can ensure that you have access to experts who can evaluate the severity of your injuries and determine how much money you may encounter in medical bills and lost wages over time.
They can also reconstruct the accident scene to better establish who was at fault and exactly how you received your injuries.
Familiarity With State Personal Injury Law
A personal injury attorney should know the applicable laws that govern your case. This is especially important when filing a claim, as they will know how to handle the insurance and court procedures necessary to present a case.
In cases where you are partially negligent for the accident, an attorney will know how to navigate the law to ensure that you still receive partial compensation. This is particularly important in states with no-fault or comparative negligence policies in personal injury cases.
Knowledge About the Settlement Process
Insurance adjusters settle claims for a living. They work on behalf of the insurance companies and often offer less than the victim may be entitled to. Your attorney will be familiar with the settlement negotiation process and know when to push back when an amount isn’t fair to you.
Once you decide to accept a settlement, your lawyer can work with you to make sure you understand the terms and conditions of the agreement.
Once you sign a settlement, it’s unlikely to change, and you will be unable to pursue further recourse for the accident. Therefore, you want an attorney who can assure you that the settlement is reasonable and you aren’t missing out on compensation you may otherwise be entitled to.
Proving Who Was at Fault
In situations where there are questions concerning who was at fault for the accident, you will need the assistance of an experienced attorney who can advocate on your behalf. They will be able to assess the evidence from both parties to devise an appropriate strategy for determining who was responsible for the accident.
They may need to review the accident report, consult with witnesses, and analyze the medical records to do this. Since personal injury attorneys are often called to help with claims associated with car accidents, they will know what to look for to prove negligence.
They may also fight claims of contributory negligence in states that prevent victims from collecting compensation if they were partially at fault for an accident.
When Is an Attorney Not Necessary?
When you're considering when to get a lawyer after a car accident, there are times when one might not be needed. You may be able to handle the claim process without visiting an attorney. A few situations where this might be okay include:
No Injuries Occurred
If you can definitively conclude that no injuries occurred due to your car accident, you may not need the assistance of a lawyer. For example, if the crash occurred at low speed and resulted in a minor bump between two vehicles, there aren’t likely to be serious injuries involved.
However, before assuming no injuries occurred, see a doctor. Some injuries show up a few days after a crash. Your doctor can also make sure you aren’t suffering any internal injuries.
Damages Are Insignificant
If the property damage or personal injuries sustained were minor, it might not be worth seeking the assistance of an attorney. For example, if the cost to repair your car is minimal and you didn’t miss any work, that’s not likely to require the assistance of an attorney.
You’re Comfortable With the Amount the Insurance Company Has Offered
If the insurance company has offered you an amount that you feel is fair, you may be better off moving on from the wreck without an attorney. For example, if the car you were driving was old and had little value, and you suffered no injuries, it might not be worth pursuing a higher claim with the assistance of a lawyer. However, a lawyer may be able to help you evaluate whether an offer is fair or not.