If you’re hurt in a car accident and you’re seeking compensation for your injuries, there’s certainly no law that says you’re required to hire an attorney. However, many victims of car accidents do choose legal representation, which allows them to rest and recover if they’re injured but also pursue legal action.
Hiring an attorney doesn’t guarantee you’re going to get any specific outcome, and if an attorney promises you that they will get you a certain outcome, you should think twice about hiring them. It does, however, help you in most cases.
Most lawyers recommend that you hire someone as soon as possible after an accident. If you don’t, you could be jeopardizing your legal rights and your ability to get compensation for your injuries.
When you’re in an accident, you have to report it as soon as possible to your insurer. If another driver had fault in the accident, then that driver’s insurance company may ask you to make a statement on the record. Usually, this is recorded. You may not even realize how seemingly benign comments could give an insurer what they need to deny your claim.
If you hire a lawyer, they can help protect your rights and make sure that you’re also going to receive payment for the treatment and care you may need in the future.
The following are situations you should likely at least talk to a lawyer, after an accident.
- Your long-term health was affected
- You had a hospital stay
- Broken bones are involved
- Someone died in the accident
- Your medical treatments cost more than a few thousand dollars
- Your accident and injuries led you to have to miss work, school, or other activities
- You dealt with non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering or trauma
- Multiple people were hurt in the accident
- There’s a disagreement or dispute over who’s at fault
- The accident took place somewhere like a construction zone.
- You feel like there’s an inaccuracy in some of the paperwork, like insurance communications
- The accident has complicated details
- You feel like the insurance company is treating you unfairly
- The insurance company is trying to lowball you
- A governmental agency led to the accident
- Your injuries are severe and permanent
What Can a Lawyer Do?
There are certain things a lawyer can do that you aren’t likely to be able to do on your own, including:
- Developing a legal strategy to help you get maximum compensation. There are a lot of laws and rules in place that dictate when, how, and also against whom you’re able to take legal action for your damages following a car accident. There are also rules about how much money a person has to pay. Accident attorneys and personal injury attorneys are going to be experts at helping navigate those guidelines to your advantage.
- An experienced attorney can help to identify all the possible parties that have liability legally for your damages. The more parties an attorney can identify with the resources to compensate you, the better your chances of recovering money.
- It’s not easy to attach a dollar amount on the harm you suffer because of an accident, and this is another area a personal injury attorney is going to be experienced. They’ll add up your out-of-pocket costs, which are easier to prove, but they’ll also be able to help estimate your future costs stemming from your injuries. There are subjective costs, too, such as pain and suffering, and an attorney can put a reasonable dollar amount on these. If you try to add up these costs on your own, you could over- or underestimate them.
- You’ll need to prove your claim, and if you work with an attorney, they’ll help you gather relevant evidence to do this. Your attorney can gather different pieces of evidence and then tie them together into a clear narrative showing that someone owes you damages because they have a legal liability.
- The overwhelming majority of personal injury claims settle out of court. An insurer for the individual or party with legal liability usually pays the injured party. Then, in exchange for that payment, the injured party gives up their legal claim. An attorney is going to be an adept negotiator with experience communicating with insurance adjusters.
- Even when you are awarded damages, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to see the money in your bank account. A lawyer will know how to collect an award and follow through.
When Do You Not Need An Attorney?
There are also some times when you may not need an attorney following an accident, including:
- The expected recovery would be too small for it to make sense.
- While insurance companies do want to act in their own best interests, they might be offering you a settlement that seems fair. You have to think about whether you’re willing to get into a situation where you have to negotiate for a long time and then give one-third of your compensation to your attorney when the insurance company is already indicating they want to settle.
- If there aren’t any injuries and the only damage is to your vehicle, there’s not going to be much value in pursuing a personal injury claim
Talk To An Attorney If You Aren’t Sure
Often after a car accident, it’s hard to know what your next steps should be, and it’s often the best course of action to go ahead and speak to an attorney or several. You may not think so, but they are going to be honest with you about whether or not you have a visible claim.
A personal injury attorney isn’t going to find it’s in their own best interest to work with someone who doesn’t have a viable claim because they’re paid on a contingency fee basis for these cases. That means an attorney isn’t paid unless their client recovers, so they have no benefit to wasting your time. They’d be wasting their own as well.
If you speak to an attorney, they’ll tell you whether or not they’d be willing to take your case and, if not, their reasoning.