When Should You Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident?
If you or someone in your family gets hurt in a vehicle accident, there are a lot of different questions that need to be answered—and relatively quickly. If you don't take action, for example, you could lose your right to pursue compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. This is because each state has very clear requirements for personal injury cases, known as the statute of limitations.
If you exceed the statute of limitations, you will be unable to pursue compensation in a lawsuit. Furthermore, it is just in your best interest to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible after an accident has happened. This is because this is a critical time to gather evidence and get a clear understanding of what this means for your future. The sooner you can talk with a lawyer, the easier it will be to start gathering evidence and to ask those important questions of your insurance company.
The more time goes on, the greater the chance is that you won’t be able to get the financial compensation needed to pay for your injuries.
When Should You Handle Your Case on Your Own?
It is certainly true that not every case involving a car accident requires a personal injury lawyer. However, there are certain situations that should prompt you to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. If you have relatively minor injuries, you might be able to handle your case on your own. This is because you will primarily be focused on economic damages and this can be a little bit easier to work with the insurance company. The scope of the case is much smaller and that makes it simpler for you to manage the case on your own. If there are any complicating factors in your case, however, you will need a personal injury lawyer immediately.
A personal injury lawyer can complete a comprehensive review of your case and give you further information about some of the challenges you might experience. If you are already having problems working with the insurance company or unclear about how your diagnosis will impact your future, a personal injury lawyer can assist you with this and many more aspects of your case.
If you have missed significant time at work, feel that your injuries impede your daily life and make it impossible for you to live as you did prior to the accident, or are having a difficult time convincing the insurance company about the severity of your injuries, all of these are indications that you should hire an experienced personal injury lawyer. Involving a lawyer in your case greatly increases your chances of success, but it also reduces the stress on you personally because your lawyer is handling this aspect of your legal claim, not you.
You don't have to worry about communication with the insurance company or any court paperwork and can remain focused on what is most important during this time, which is your medical care. It can be devastating to live through an accident and realize that other people involved in the case like your insurance company don't take its impact seriously. Working with a personal injury lawyer, who has been in this position before and who helped other victims navigate this complex situation, can be very beneficial for your case as well as your physical and mental health.
Key Steps to Take After an Accident
Once you get hurt in a vehicle accident, your first step should be to get medical attention. This is true, even if you're not yet sure whether you've sustained any serious injuries. Most people underestimate the possibility of serious injuries and wind up learning after the fact that they have whiplash or other serious problems. In all of these circumstances, you can avoid this situation by getting a comprehensive evaluation from a physician immediately after the accident. This gives your physician the chance to complete diagnostic tests, and to give you a better understanding of how you might have been hurt.
Many accident injuries are shielded in the moments after the accident due to shock, and others might not have serious impacts until days later. Whiplash, for example, very commonly shows up a few days after an accident with radiating neck and shoulder pain that makes it difficult for the affected person to work at all, or complete any physical activities. Give yourself grace during this period and reach out for further medical assistance if, and when, you need it during this time.
Communicating with your insurance company is another important step to take after you have been seriously injured. Most people underestimate how difficult it can be to work with their insurance company. Your insurance carrier has a primary goal of protecting their bottom line, and this may not always align with your individual needs in a vehicle accident case. Wondering when you should hire an attorney after a car accident is only one piece of the puzzle, when it comes to civil litigation and protecting your best interest. Many lawyers spring into action immediately after being hired, because of the important windows that exist there to give you a chance to gather evidence, and to file a thorough legal claim. You may find that it is difficult to work with your insurance company, and that they are not keeping you up-to-date about the status of the case. This is another leading reason to get a quick answer to when should I hire an attorney after a car accident? Because the proper answer is as soon as possible.
In some cases, when an insurance company learns that you've hired a lawyer, they seem to take your case more seriously immediately. Having a lawyer to tell you when your insurance company has acted in bad faith, or is not keeping you up-to-date per their responsibilities, can give you further ammunition and clarity on how to proceed. You will need to protect your interests with the insurance company and any possible settlement, as well as remain in communication with parties on the other side, such as their insurance company. Especially since your insurance carrier is not looking out for your best interest, you cannot count on the other party's insurance company to advocate for you, or to work as hard as possible for a full and fair recovery. This is when you should leave all of the communication to your knowledgeable personal injury lawyer.
As soon as you have received a medical diagnosis and determined your next steps for treatment, you should hire a lawyer. A lawyer can help you evaluate your chances for recovery of compensation in a case, and prepare you for the possibility of litigation. Some attorneys resolve many cases in settlement without having to go to court, but others find that the first compensation offer presented by the other side does not fully compensate you for the severity of your injuries. In all of these circumstances, it's helpful to have a lawyer who has both settlement as well as trial experience, as this puts you in the best possible position to recover maximum compensation.
What Should I Look for in a Lawyer?
When communicating with your attorney, make sure to discuss specifics in your case, such as how they perceive your injuries, and your possible chances of recovery. You want a lawyer who is on your side, and one who is not afraid to advocate for what is best for you. If your lawyer doesn't believe in the strength of your case, you will find it very difficult to recover compensation, or to work with this person for the duration. You should also get a good idea of the lawyer's personal style and communication preferences. If you won't be able to hear from your attorney over the duration of your case, for example, you should know that at the beginning. Finally, make sure you have a lawyer who's experienced in the personal injury case type that you are presenting to them. Your lawyer should have managed cases like this before, and should be empathetic and compassionate about how this accident has affected your life.
You should also be on the same page as your attorney about the overall strategy to pursue compensation. If you believe that you would like to close this matter out quickly, and that any reasonable settlement offer should be reviewed, presented to you, and likely signed, make sure that you share these concerns with your attorney.
Most personal injury lawyers will have a similar educational background and a general awareness of how these cases work. What makes the right lawyer different is their commitment to your case and their level of understanding when it comes to fighting for your rights. At Morgan & Morgan, we have the strength and experience of a large firm with the personal attention and care of a local small practice. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation to get started.