A car accident is never easy to deal with, because you never expect it to happen to you. Along with the stress and trauma of the accident itself, as well as any sustained injuries, comes a whole host of stressors, such as various legal and financial concerns. You’re probably feeling overwhelmed with whether or not you need to contact a lawyer and, if so, how soon after your accident. We understand how you’re feeling, and we are here to help. Here’s when to contact a lawyer after a car accident.
What Should You Do Immediately After a Car Accident?
As soon as you are in a place that is safe from danger, your first priority is to call 911. You’ll need to seek medical treatment no matter how insignificant you feel your injury is, because not all injuries — especially head trauma and spine injuries — are immediately observable. As soon as it is safe, you should consider calling a personal injury lawyer, since there are many factors that are involved in developing the best strategy to protect yourself from getting taken advantage of by an insurance company. Most car accident lawyers will consult with you free of charge and help you understand your rights and options for securing medical treatment and offsetting lost earnings. The importance of getting medical care and understanding your options for paying for it cannot be overstated.
Do You Need to Hire an Attorney?
Depending on the severity of your accident, or lack thereof, you might be wondering if your case even warrants legal representation. The following outlines the situations for which you should contact a personal injury lawyer to talk about your case and discuss your legal options.
- If you are seeking medical attention. If your accident was serious enough to require a trip to the doctor or emergency room, you should speak with a personal injury lawyer to talk about your case. With that said, we recommend that you always seek medical attention after an accident to rule out any injury that can’t be immediately detected, such as a concussion or other head trauma.
- In the event of a fatality. Any time an accident results in a fatality, the family of the victim should consider consulting with an attorney. Sooner is always better, since often times your lawyer will make sure any important evidence is secured and preserved.
- If the defendant’s insurance company contacts you. If you’re contacted by the defendant’s insurance company, be aware that they will try everything in their power to get you to accept a lower settlement than what you deserve. Because they are a business and only looking out for their own best interests, they won’t hesitate to use anything you say against you in court, and they almost always try to get you to settle your case before you really know how serious your injuries are. For that reason, it’s best not to speak with them at all, and instead let your lawyer handle the burden of communication with them entirely.
- If your own insurance company gives you problems. It’s known as “acting in bad faith” when your insurance company denies you the coverage you’ve paid for, refuses to pay your claim without explanation, or fails to pay it in a timely fashion. In any of these situations, a personal injury lawyer will defend your rights and pursue your fair reimbursement.
The bottom line is that if you were involved in an accident at the fault of another person, it’s always a wise choice to contact a lawyer and discuss your options. That way, you can decide whether it makes sense to actually hire one.
How Soon After an Accident Should You Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer?
It’s in your best interest to contact a lawyer for representation in your case as soon as possible after your accident, and there are a couple of reasons why.
- Dealing with insurance companies. The defendant will be in touch with his or her insurance company immediately, and the first thing they will do is contact you to discuss the accident. Remember that you should never give your statement to the defendant’s insurance company without first speaking with a personal injury lawyer. No matter how helpful they claim to be, they’re still a business that runs on offering the lowest settlement possible. When you partner with a personal injury lawyer, they will handle all communication with the insurance company on your behalf, so that you won’t have to worry about accepting less than what you deserve.
- Access to medical care. Many people feel pressured to settle their cases prematurely because they do not have the resources to pay for the medical treatment they need. The insurance companies know how to make people feel like what they are offering is fair when, in reality, they simply want to get the case settled before someone realizes their injuries are more severe than they originally thought. By consulting with a personal injury lawyer, you will learn your options for getting necessary medical care, even if you don’t have health insurance or the money to pay for treatment up front.
- Statute of limitations. Personal injury claims are subject to a statute of limitations, which means that you only have a certain amount of time to file a claim for reimbursement of your expenses. The average statute of limitations is two years from the date of the accident. However, you can never be sure how your recovery process or any holdups in the legal process will cause a delay in your case. That’s why it’s best to contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
Once you discuss your case and share your documentation with a personal injury lawyer, you will understand the steps you need to take to protect yourself. If you hire a lawyer, they will begin the claims process by contacting the defendant’s insurance company and advocating for you. At FVF, we are passionate about helping victims like you recover from an accident, and that includes championing the outcome that you deserve. That’s why we invite you to contact us and discuss your case completely free of charge. Hesitating to contact a lawyer will only hurt you. Give us a call today and let us help you on your road to recovery.