Should I Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident?
Every year in the United States, the entirety of the population drives about three trillion miles. On average, we spend about an hour driving each day, increasing our chances of getting into an accident. Our likelihood of being involved in an accident is 1 in 366 for every 1000 miles driven. At least 77% of motor vehicle drivers have been in at least one accident during their lifetime. With statistics like these, getting into a car accident is more likely than not. But what should you do following a collision? It's common for folks to ask themselves, "should I hire an attorney after a car accident?"
It usually comes down to the factors of your car accident and your personal feelings about dealing with the aftermath. Many people choose to work with an attorney to prioritize their health over handling the complexities of an insurance claim. Whether or not you should hire a car accident attorney is up to you. Still, you should be aware that you have a right to legal representation, regardless of whether the accident is serious or minor.
We suggest working with an experienced car accident lawyer at Morgan and Morgan if you've sustained severe injuries or the accident resulted in sizable property damage. A lawyer can offer valuable advice concerning your rights and may significantly impact the amount of compensation you receive. They'll empower you with their knowledge so that you can make important decisions concerning your future from a position of strength.
What Does a Car Accident Lawyer Do?
Accidents involving serious injuries, property damage, or death can quickly become complicated because there is a lot of money at stake for the injured party and the insurance companies. Your first settlement offer may not even encompass the actual value of your claim. After a serious car accident, you also may not fully grasp the total value of your losses. Often, people don't take into account the long-term financial impact substantial injuries can introduce, such as ongoing medical care, future surgeries, and diminished wage earning capacity. When you ask yourself, "should I hire an attorney after a car accident," these and others are factors a lawyer will have the foresight to consider. Here are additional services a lawyer can offer to add weight to your claim:
Launching a thorough investigation into your accident - You might assume that a police report is the crown jewel of evidence used to determine fault. Although police reports are generally highly regarded, anyone can make errors in judgment. Resolving disputes concerning fault is often the incentive behind hiring an attorney. Your Morgan and Morgan lawyer will have the resources to hire a professional investigator independent of the police and insurance companies whose task is to uncover the truth. We work to preserve evidence, conduct interviews with eyewitnesses, and lay the foundation for a credible theory that should either establish fault regarding the other party or absolve you from blame.
Documenting your present and future financial losses - Gaining meaningful compensation may hinge on the accurate assessment of damages. As explained previously, individuals dealing with injuries or the loss of loved ones aren't in the best position to calculate the financial and emotional impact of the accident in dollars. We understand it's a sensitive time, and you might need someone to assess your losses objectively. While we acknowledge that no amount of money is enough to erase some types of harm, financial compensation is the only remedy allowed in the civil justice system. We can make sure you get the maximum amount by taking every aspect of your losses into account, both now and in the future.
Provide you with unbiased information about your situation - After an accident, the primary entities you'll be working with are insurance adjusters. The problem with this is that they don't work for you. While you may pay your premiums, even your own insurance company's adjuster isn't considering your best interests. Instead, they are trained to save money for their employer. You deserve to have someone who will share advice that will benefit you without being unduly influenced by corporate greed. A car accident lawyer is someone you can trust to represent your needs and explain your best options. Likewise, your lawyer can give you an honest opinion on whether a settlement is fair or whether you should continue negotiating for a better offer or pursue a lawsuit.
Meeting regulatory requirements - The claims process can be labor-intensive and mentally exhausting. Depending on your emotional and physical state, you may not be up to the rigorous requirements. Typically, there will be quite a bit of back and forth between you and the insurance company, like phone calls, emails, and submitting documentation and forms. Missing any requirements or deadlines can cause delays and sometimes result in a denial of your claim. When a lawyer represents you, all communication will go through them, and you'll only be responsible for the most consequential tasks, which your lawyer will explain. While the final decisions are up to you, we take away the hassle and worry of handling the claims process on your own.
Negotiating a settlement but preparing for trial - Your lawyer will investigate your accident and enter into negotiations with the expectation of a fair settlement. By doing so, they are also ready for the possibility things will go south. If negotiations break down, the only option may be to pursue a lawsuit. Here's where our lawyers are different from many car accident attorneys.
Surprisingly, many car accident lawyers will do everything possible to dodge a trial. Even if that means advising their clients to accept less than what their claims are worth because trials are costly and take up a lot of time. However, your Morgan and Morgan lawyer will only suggest you settle if it's a fair offer and your best option. Suppose we see more money on the table and the other party's insurance company isn't offering a legitimate solution. In that case, we don't hesitate to escalate the dispute to the next level, which is a lawsuit.
No out-of-pocket attorney's fees - We understand that when you're contemplating, "should I hire an attorney after a car accident," that costs are something you're considering. However, due to the structure of personal injury claims, you won't owe any upfront fees for our services. Instead, we only take payment when our services result in a win for you. That means you don't have to pay if we're unable to recover compensation. Our fees are reasonable and on par with other law firms, except that our track record of success is far more substantial than run-of-the-mill law firms. We are significantly ahead of the pack, with billions recovered for our clients over more than 35 years. Why would you pay the same fees to a lesser-known law firm when you can have representation from one of the nation's biggest and most successful law firms for the same price?
How Long After a Car Accident Can I File a Claim or Pursue a Lawsuit?
From the moment your car accident took place, the timer started. Every state has laws regarding how long you have to pursue a lawsuit. These are called the statutes of limitations and define how long you have to file your intent to sue. Some states only allow a few years before it's too late. Likewise, insurance companies have their own rules and regulations. Waiting too long can significantly hinder your ability to recover compensation, regardless of how legitimate your claim may be.
The clock started ticking in more ways than one, too. For instance, when you missed your first paycheck or received your first medical bill. The aftermath of a car accident can be a whirlwind. You may be dealing with numerous doctor's visits, juggling childcare with an injury, or learning to cope with a new disability. Time can get away from you very quickly. Meanwhile, the bills keep coming, and you may no longer be able to work. Now you're facing a financial problem with no obvious solutions.
For these reasons, we urge you to contact Morgan and Morgan swiftly after a car accident. We can work to preserve crucial evidence, deal with insurance companies, and may even be able to negotiate with your medical providers to delay payment of your medical debt until your claim or lawsuit is settled. We may also be able to help you with solutions in regard to your regular household bills and expenses, such as emergency social services. Our goal is to help you through this tough time long enough to recover the financial compensation you need to get your life back on track.
What Are Common Reasons People Decide to Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident?
Legal representation isn't necessary for every car accident. Usually, serious injuries or problems with insurance negotiations are the reason to seek legal counsel. If your claim involves any of the following, we recommend you reach to out to us:
- An accident that involves significant injury to you or anyone else
- An injury resulted in permanent impairment
- A government entity was involved in the accident (a city bus or police cruiser, for example)
- An accident where the fault is in question
- A collision in a school or construction zone
- If your accident involved an underinsured or uninsured motorist
- You disagree with the police report
- An insurance company isn't responding to your concerns or questions
- A loved one dies because of injuries sustained in the accident
Usually, minor fender benders can be resolved without attorney assistance. However, under some circumstances, it's still advisable to get an attorney's input, such as in the case of the following:
- Minor collisions that involve significant property damage (an expensive car or a structure was damaged)
- Passengers or yourself were injured
- You or your passengers were forced to miss substantial work hours because of an injury
- Troubles with dealing with vehicle repairs or issues with insurance policy limits
Why Does Fault Matter in a Car Accident?
Only a handful of states have no-fault insurance laws. That means that fault isn't a factor in how medical bills and lost income are handled. Each party is compensated through their own personal injury protection insurance. Even so, in no-fault states, some injuries are severe enough to allow victims to pursue further compensation through the at-fault party's insurance regardless.
However, in no-fault states and states that practice assigning fault, who is responsible for the accident still matters because it's a question of liability for damages. When insurance companies talk about "fault," it really means negligence, and every state observes varying definitions.
For example, in some states, they observe "pure contributory negligence" rules, meaning you'd only be reimbursed if you're 100% blameless. Others use "pure comparative negligence," meaning you can get reimbursed, but it will be based on what percentage of fault is yours. Lastly, there is "modified comparative negligence," which means you'll only be able to collect if you fall under a certain threshold of blame. Usually, this falls below 50% or 51%. If you're over the threshold, you will not be able to go after the other driver for your damages.
For these reasons and more, it's crucial to at least discuss your case with a qualified car accident lawyer. We urge you to contact us today for a free, no-commitment case evaluation. We understand you have a lot of questions and concerns, and we're prepared to put your fears at rest. You deserve to have an opportunity to recover compensation for a car accident that wasn't your responsibility. We can help make this a reality.