Do I Need a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
When you're in a car accident, hiring the right car accident lawyer is one of the most important decisions you can make. If you’re wondering, “Do I need a lawyer after a car accident?”—the short answer is that it can only help.
You should know that you have the right to consult with legal counsel before making any statements to an insurance company. That's one piece of information they don't volunteer. Still, you have the right to deal with them on your own as well.
Right now, you're reviewing your options to make an informed decision. That's using sound judgment. We'll share some of our insider knowledge that Morgan and Morgan's lawyers have discovered concerning tactics used by insurance companies when claimants try to negotiate on their own. While we hope you decide to allow us to represent you in your legal matter, we also want to inform you of some of the pitfalls that could cause you to stumble if you're not represented by an attorney.
To get started, contact Morgan and Morgan today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
Is Hiring a Lawyer Always Helpful After a Car Accident?
The answer is always yes simply because a lawyer will have extensive knowledge of the applicable laws and should be familiar with how insurance claims work, whereas you may not. With that kind of background, a lawyer will always be helpful. However, being helpful is not the same as being needed. For example, suppose there is relatively minor property damage and no injuries. In that case, you probably don't need a lawyer after a car accident.
These kinds of claims are usually straightforward and concluded quickly. On the other hand, if you or someone you care about were injured in an accident, this can change how you should handle the situation. Primarily, you must be aware that insurance companies are for-profit businesses. That means their objective for existing is to make money. They can't realize their goal if they pay out substantially for your injuries. It's not an overstatement to say they'll pull out all the stops to pay you as little as possible. They literally train their employees how to accomplish this and may even offer incentives to adjusters who pay out the least.
Most people aren't even aware of the tactics used to downplay your losses when making a claim. Furthermore, you may not truly understand the value of your losses. Insurance companies would like it to stay this way. However, Morgan and Morgan are here to help shed light on how insurance companies use claimants' lack of knowledge to capitalize on profits.
You may also not be aware of how lucrative the insurance business is, with CEOs being paid millions per year. In fact, the executive chairman of GEICO received over $77 million in 2020. That's right, while the rest of the country was struggling to deal with the pandemic, one insurance executive made more in one year than you and most people you know combined would make in a lifetime. A company can't pay executives excessive sums of money like that if they're offering fair settlements to claimants as a routine practice.
While we can't address the disparities of pay between corporate America vs. regular citizens, we can help to protect your rights when it comes to getting fair compensation for your injuries from an insurance company.
When Is the Right Time to Hire a Car Accident Attorney?
Whether or not to hire a car accident attorney is up to your discretion. However, if you decide that working with an attorney is the right decision for you, we recommend you contact our car accident lawyers straightaway. There are a few reasons why swift action is important.
Legal deadlines - Legal matters must be dealt with promptly, and an experienced lawyer can ensure you meet all the required deadlines, so you don't lose your right to compensation. The most significant deadline is your state's statute of limitations. This is the deadline for a plaintiff to file a case in the court system, and it's a hard deadline with rare exceptions. Tennessee only gives you one year from the date of the accident, for example. That's not the date you get out of the hospital or the date you're able to return to work. When the collision occurred, the clock started ticking.
Suppose your accident involved a government entity, like a city bus, for example. In that case, the deadline is substantially shorter, and the claim will be much more complex.
Other deadlines you might not be aware of involve the insurance company's policies. Most require a claim to be filed promptly or within a reasonably short time after the accident. When internal deadlines are missed, it gives the insurance company ammunition to fight you.
Making sure evidence is preserved - Evidence is crucial in matters where the fault for the accident is in question, and it can disappear faster than you think. For example, debris on the roadway quickly gets scattered, whether metal scraps or busted glass. Skid marks and evidence of leaving the road can degrade rapidly on a busy expressway, especially in inclement weather.
Likewise, if evidence was captured on a nearby surveillance camera, the proof of who was at fault might get erased in a matter of days, as businesses only store footage for a limited time. A good car accident lawyer can contact nearby businesses and alert them that footage should be preserved because legal action is underway. The key, however, is quick action.
Finally, the vehicles may be part of the evidence. It's understandable to want your vehicle fixed as soon as possible, but vital evidence must be documented before this happens. If your car were totaled, we would want to examine it for any details it might provide before it's dismantled or compacted for the scrap yard.
Getting medical care - We understand that many people don't have very good health insurance, or maybe none. Suppose you have yet to be able to get the medical care you need because of financial issues. In that case, your car accident lawyer may be able to provide advice on how to get it on a lien basis. This arrangement is made between you and the treating doctor, where they defer payment until your claim is settled.
Medical records are vital because you must demonstrate that you were injured in the accident and got treatment to get compensation for some forms of damages like pain and suffering. We know that it can be overwhelming to deal with all of this alone. That's why we provide guidance on procuring essential medical treatment for your injuries.
Gathering witness statements while memories are fresh - Most of us can't remember what we wore last Thursday. When it comes to issues that involve a stranger, a witness could quickly become indifferent as they get busy with their own lives. It is crucial to get witness statements on record while their memories are fresh and they're still focused. Over time memories fade, and a witness's willingness to participate can wane as they think more about the inconvenience of getting entangled in your legal predicament. It's best to strike while the iron is hot and get their testimony so it can be used on your behalf.
You might not be able to take quick action after a car accident, especially if you are critically injured. However, when you've decided that hiring a car accident lawyer is in your best interests, we recommend you get in touch with Morgan and Morgan today and don't hesitate any longer.
Tactics Insurance Companies May Use on Car Accident Victims Without Legal Counsel?
We've already commented on how insurance is a business that focuses on delivering payouts for shareholders and CEOs, not claimants. But what tactics do they use to accomplish this? Here are some of the most common that lead to injured parties reaching out to us for help:
Delaying - The delay tactic is often employed because the money that should be paid to you is in investments that are gaining interest. Meanwhile, you can sit and suffer and worry. However, it poses no difficulty for them. Another reason your settlement could be delayed is that they know you're likely hurting for money as medical bills and other losses mount. Desperate people are much easier to take advantage of, so when they finally offer you a paltry amount, it will look better than nothing, which is what you've had since the accident. Another reason is to let the statute of limitations deadline run out. Once the deadline is passed, they know you can't take any legal action, and you only get what they decide to give you.
While the insurance company may communicate with you, these interactions often require more and more information from you without any results. If an insurance representative advises that hiring a lawyer will only complicate things, think about that for a moment. Yes, it will complicate things for them because you'll know your rights and the law.
Likewise, they can drag it out as long as they wish or not pay fairly on a claim because they know most people who aren't lawyers will never take the case to trial. They can make promises they never keep without a lawyer to hold them accountable.
Misleading liability for medical bills - Another tactic is to tell you that since your health insurance covers your medical bills, they aren't liable to pay for them. The problem with this is that your medical insurance provider may come after you for the costs down the line. As far as insurance is concerned, this process is called "subrogation," which means your healthcare insurance carrier has a right to request reimbursement for expenses from the at-fault party. If you settle your claim with the other party's car insurance carrier without this knowledge, you might be on the hook to pay for your medical care. It isn't fair that just because you have medical insurance, the party to blame gets off without penalty.
Similarly, when you present your medical bills, you may not be aware that more bills have yet to come. Suppose you've been lucky enough not to require much medical care in your life. In that case, you may not know that you get bills from all the different entities that played a role in your medical care. For example, you may get a bill from the ambulance company, another from the hospital, another from the doctor, more for tests, and so forth. These are all different entities with different billing periods. Some may come months after your treatment. The insurance companies know this well but are under no obligation to warn you.
Using your own statements against you - It's normal to show concern for others after a car accident. Still, you must be aware that insurance companies will use any statements you make against you, including apologies to the other party, even if they were at fault. Likewise, they may pressure you to make recorded statements before you have time to consult a lawyer. They do this hoping you'll say something that could be detrimental to your case. You have a right to speak with a lawyer before making any statements, regardless of whether they tell you otherwise.
Denying your claim - This is a common tactic often used because accident victims may not realize they can push back and demand valid reasons or counter their arguments. They may search through your medical records and say that an injury resulted from previous trauma or that your herniated disc is simply a part of the aging process. Likewise, they may argue that the particulars of your accident aren't covered under the policy or that the medical care you received wasn't necessary. The list can go on and on. However, when you have expert advice from a car accident lawyer, you'll be a prepared opponent and not the easy mark they expect.
Should I Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident?
While you may view hiring an attorney as a big deal, so would not getting paid fairly for your car accident. At Morgan and Morgan, we've had over 35 years to learn all the games insurance companies play to keep money in their own pockets, not people who have been legitimately harmed through negligence and have suffered losses. We know how to beat them and ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Get in touch today for your free case evaluation. If we don't win, you don't pay.