When to Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident

When to Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident

After a car accident, it is normal to have countless questions on your mind, such as, “Should I hire an attorney?” or “When is the right time to call a lawyer?” Generally speaking, the answers to these two questions are: “Definitely” and “As soon as possible.”

Having a Bakersfield car accident attorney by your side can assist you in safeguarding your legal rights and striving for a settlement that adequately addresses your damages.

Below, we review the circumstances when you need legal representation after a car accident.

When You Need an Attorney After a Car Accident

There are many circumstances and factors that necessitate legal representation.

You need a lawyer when your car accident case involves:

Severe or Permanent Injuries

One of the most pressing reasons to hire an attorney after a car accident is when you or the other party involved has sustained severe or permanent injuries. Statistically speaking, approximately 5.4 million victims of motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. suffer medically consulted injuries every year, but not all of them are severe or permanent.

When a victim suffers serious injuries, those injuries can turn their life upside down and lead to burdensome medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and long-term care expenses.

If you are the one who got injured, your attorney can assess the full impact of the injury on your life and fight for the compensation you deserve to get your life back on track.

Wrongful Death

When You Need an Attorney After a Car Accident I Wrongful Death

In the most tragic of circumstances, a car accident can result in the death of a family member. Unfortunately, death is not a rare consequence of motor vehicle crashes. Each year, car accidents claim the lives of about 40,000 Americans, with California having the second-highest number of traffic fatalities.

When your loved one dies in a car accident, an attorney can guide you through the process of filing a wrongful death claim and ensure that the liable party is held accountable while also seeking financial compensation for your loss.

Understandably, no amount of money can undo what happened, but it can relieve some of the financial burdens your family is facing.

Disputed Liability

When liability after an accident becomes a subject of contention, the other party involved may dispute their responsibility.

If you believe that you are not at fault but the other party or their insurance company says your negligence caused or contributed to the crash, a lawyer can help prove your case by using the right type of evidence and expert testimony.

There Are Multiple Parties Involved

Accidents involving multiple vehicles can be particularly complex, as the fault can be shared between several parties. Managing communications and negotiations with multiple insurers and attorneys might quickly overwhelm you, so you may need an attorney to assist you.

You Experience Difficulties with the Insurance Company

Insurance companies are in the business of making money, which is why you should not be surprised if you notice them acting to minimize the amount they pay out.

If you encounter obstacles in dealing with insurance companies, such as unresponsiveness or delays, consult an attorney. Your lawyer will command respect and ensure that the insurance company follows the law and respects you.

The Insurance Company Offers You Money to Settle Your Claim

If an insurance company offers you a settlement quickly after your accident, it might be less than what you deserve

Before accepting any settlement, have an attorney review it to ensure it covers all your damages now and in the future. Once you accept the settlement, you cannot request additional compensation.

You Incur Loss of Income

If your injuries have caused you to miss work and lose some of your income that you should have earned but didn’t, you may need an attorney to pursue adequate compensation for lost income or reduced earning capacity. An attorney can help prove the full financial impact and incorporate it into your claim.

You Do Not Agree with the Police Report

Sometimes, the official police report may provide an erroneous description of the accident or put you at an unfair disadvantage. A lawyer can gather evidence and take the necessary steps to contest inaccuracies in the report and present your side of the story more persuasively.

When You Might Not Need an Attorney After a Car Accident

Yes, hiring an attorney can be the single best decision you make following a car accident. Below, we will review a couple of scenarios where people might handle their legal cases on their own without a car accident attorney:

No one suffered injuries or died.

If the car accident resulted in no injuries whatsoever to anyone involved, the likelihood that you will need an attorney drastically decreases.

Personal injury claims make up the bulk of car accident litigation, and without any injuries, the complexity and stakes of the legal process are greatly reduced. The claim process is often fairly simple if an accident only caused some property damage and no injuries. The repair shop and insurance company can agree on an estimate, and the insurer covers the bill.

However, remember that not all car accident injuries are immediately apparent. In some situations, symptoms can take days to appear, such as with whiplash or concussions. You might initially believe it was a property damage-only crash and later realize that you have injuries.

Once you feel symptoms, immediately seek medical attention and then schedule your free legal consultation with a car accident lawyer.

The insurance company is offering enough to cover repairs.

The insurance company is offering enough to cover repairs

Should the insurance company offer a settlement that covers your vehicle repairs according to the repair shop, you might not need an attorney.

This is about it. In any other scenario, consult a car accident lawyer about your situation.

Remember, while the points above outline scenarios where you probably do not need an attorney, every car accident and the circumstances surrounding it are unique.

It never hurts to consult an attorney for a professional opinion on your situation. Many attorneys offer free consultations, which can provide valuable insights into the potential complexities of your case without having to pay anything.

What to Provide to Your Car Accident Attorney

When you meet with an attorney to discuss the details of your case, the attorney will want as much information about the accident as possible. That is why you might be wondering, “What should I bring to my meeting with an attorney?”

While your attorney might request additional documentation, you will most likely be asked to provide:

  • Police report. This is the official report from law enforcement officers who responded to the accident. It typically includes details of the accident, statements from parties involved, and the officer’s observations or preliminary assessment of fault.
  • Medical bills and receipts. Collect all medical records related to treatments you have received as a result of the accident. Include hospital bills, prescriptions, receipts for over-the-counter medications, specialized equipment you may need, physical therapy invoices, and any out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Insurance correspondence. Provide any letters or emails you have exchanged with your insurance company or the other party’s insurer. This includes your insurance policy, declarations page, and any coverage dispute letters or settlement offers.
  • Accident scene evidence. Photographs or videos of the accident scene can be particularly compelling pieces of evidence. Include photos of vehicle positions, street signs, traffic signals, skid marks, and any damage to property. If you have dashcam footage, ensure you provide this as well.
  • Accident details. Write a detailed account of the accident while your memory is fresh. Include the date, time, weather conditions, road conditions, and any details about what happened before, during, and after the collision.
  • Contact information for witnesses. If there were any witnesses to your accident, their testimonies can be crucial. Provide names, phone numbers, and addresses for each witness, as well as a brief summary of what they saw, if available.

By providing these documents and pieces of information to your lawyer, you will give them a solid foundation to work with as they represent you. Tell your lawyer about every detail related to your car accident to ensure the most effective representation possible.

Mistakes to Avoid in the Car Accident Claims Process

Mistakes to Avoid in the Car Accident Claims Process

Unfortunately, the road to recovery after a car accident is full of pitfalls and potential obstacles. That is why many victims end up making mistakes that can either (a) reduce their payouts or (b) leave them with no compensation whatsoever.

Below are some of the most common mistakes that you need to avoid at all costs if you are ever in a car accident:

  • Waiting too long to pursue legal action. One of the most critical mistakes to avoid is procrastination. Every state has a statute of limitations – a deadline by which you must initiate any legal action. In California, for example, injured victims must initiate legal action within two years from the injury. If the statute of limitations expires, you will most likely lose your right to recover damages.
  • Accepting the insurance company’s first settlement offer. You need to understand that insurance companies are businesses with a primary goal of minimizing payouts and maximizing their profits. Their first settlement offer is often far lower than what you may actually deserve. Accepting this initial offer without assessing the full extent of your damages can mean losing out on substantial compensation necessary for your long-term recovery.
  • Providing recorded statements without legal counsel. Insurance adjusters may request recorded statements following the accident. While this step might seem harmless, insurance companies can – and most certainly will – use your words to undermine your claim later on. For this reason, you must consult with an attorney before providing any statements to protect your interests.
  • Ignoring ongoing medical advice. After a car accident, consistent medical treatment is vital – not just for your health but also for strengthening your legal claim. Medical records play a vital part in demonstrating the extent of your injuries. Ignoring recommendations or failing to attend appointments may weaken your claim by suggesting that your injuries are not as severe as you claim.
  • Overlooking witnesses. Witnesses can provide invaluable accounts that support your version of events. The police often include contact information of witnesses in their accident reports. Their testimony can dramatically improve your claim. That’s how important witnesses are in car accident cases.
  • Communicating directly with the insurance company. Direct communication with the insurance company after the accident can leave you vulnerable and unprotected. Insurance adjusters are skilled at persuading claimants to settle for less. That is why you need to have an attorney negotiate on your behalf, as attorneys are well-versed in the tactics insurance companies use to manipulate claimants.
  • Not contacting a lawyer early in the process. Securing legal representation early gives you a strategic advantage. An experienced attorney can handle all legal aspects of your claim while you can focus on what matters the most – getting back on your feet and regaining a sense of normalcy.

Some of these mistakes, when made, may not be possible to remedy and may result in unwanted consequences. Understandably, a car accident case may seem too complicated and overwhelming. However, you do not have to go through it alone. Hire a car accident attorney to do the legal heavy lifting for you.

Consult a Car Accident Lawyer Today

Mickey Fine, Bakersfield Car Accident Lawyer

Car Accident Attorney, Mickey Fine

Consultations are free, and you have nothing to lose by learning about your rights and options after a crash. Start the process today by reaching out to a Bakersfield personal injury law firm near you.

Car Accident
by Mickey Fine Law
Published on