When Do You Need a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
There are certain situations when you might be in a car accident, and it can be fairly apparent you need a lawyer. For example, if you’re in an accident with a large truck and there’s a lot of damage or someone is hurt, it’s probably a good idea to consult with a lawyer.
There are other scenarios where it’s less obvious whether or not you should hire a lawyer.
The following are things to know as you make a decision.
Minor vs. Serious Accidents
The biggest factor to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to hire a lawyer is the severity of the accident.
If there is minimal or even no damage, it’s very unlikely that you’re going to need an attorney.
For example, if you hit a car in a parking lot, going at a low speed, you probably don’t need an attorney.
You can probably handle the situation through your insurance company.
If there are injuries requiring emergency medical care or hospitalization, you are likely going to need an attorney to help you. Other situations when you should consider hiring an attorney include:
- If there’s a death, for example of someone in the car with you or someone in the other car dies, you will be better off to at least consult with an attorney.
- If you’re in an accident in a construction zone, you may need to hire an attorney. There are often significant penalties and fines associated with accidents occurring in construction zones.
- If there’s an inaccurate police report that places the blame on you, an experienced attorney may be able to help fight your case.
In general, if the fault of the accident could be an issue, you aren’t sure of your rights, or you don’t believe your insurance company is acting in good faith, think about at least talking to an attorney.
When Do You Probably Not Need an Attorney?
Again, if your accident is minor and no one is hurt, you’re probably okay to work through your insurance company. These situations don’t tend to be very complex because there aren’t complicating factors like loss of income or medical expenses.
If you have a pretty good understanding of how insurance works and you know the ins and outs of your policy, you might be able to skip hiring an attorney.
Another big situation where you’re probably not going to hire an attorney or at least not a personal injury attorney is when you’re at fault.
That may sound counterintuitive, but if you caused the accident and you have insurance, then your insurance company should provide you with an attorney.
Even if you caused the accident and you’re injured, it’s unlikely you can file a claim against someone else.
What Do Attorneys Do in Car Accident Cases?
A personal injury attorney can first and foremost keep you aware of any time limits that might prevent you from filing a lawsuit against the driver who’s at-fault in the accident. Deadlines are extremely important, and these are known as statutes of limitations.
If you don’t meet relevant deadlines, you can’t move forward to file a lawsuit.
What can be compelling about hiring a lawyer in your situation is the fact that you are unlikely to have to go to trial. Hiring a lawyer can encourage negotiations as you work toward a fair settlement.
Negotiating a settlement with an insurance company can be time-consuming. A lawyer is going to do the heavy lifting so to speak so that you don’t have to spend your time doing it.
Your lawyer can gather evidence, including police reports, medical records, witness statements, and lost wage information.
Your attorney can also create a settlement demand letter, and if a settlement isn’t reached, they can file the paperwork needed to launch a court case.
Throughout your accident case, an attorney acts as your advocate.
Attorneys are also fully aware of the tactics used by insurance companies to avoid paying.
For example, a car insurance company often tries to delay or act like your health insurance should cover all of your medical bills following a car accident.
Insurance companies might also use the causation defense, which means they claim your accident wasn’t what caused your injuries.
Attorneys are experienced in all of these tactics used by insurers and know how to effectively combat them.
It can give you peace of mind to have an attorney working for you unless, of course, your accident is very minor, in which case you may not need one.
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