When to Hire An Attorney After A Car Accident?Auto Accidents
You generally want to hire an attorney as soon as possible following a car accident. There are no benefits in waiting to hire a car accident lawyer. As you’ll see, there are considerable downsides if you don’t get the legal help you need as soon as you need it.
What Are the Benefits of Hiring an Attorney Soon After My Car Accident?
There is a long list of benefits that a personal injury lawyer provides.
As it relates specifically to car accident victims, a personal injury attorney will:
- Protect you: When you’re in a car accident, your rights are at risk. Insurance companies are looking out for themselves and may try to pressure you into a lowball settlement. The person who caused your accident and their attorneys may try to shift the blame to you. An attorney will protect your rights as soon as you hire them.
- Gather evidence: Evidence is one key reason not to wait before hiring an attorney. Someone may erase video footage from your accident shortly after the collision. Witness accounts may fade over time. Physical evidence may get lost. You need an attorney to act quickly to secure evidence in your case.
- Help you get medical care: Documenting your injuries will be a high priority after your collision. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that nearly 100 people die each day from motor vehicle accident-related injuries, and your lawyer will help ensure that you’re not one of them.
- Chart the path forward: One thing most car accident victims experience is confusion. A lawyer has seen countless car accidents and will quickly determine the appropriate path forward.
Your lawyer may be a steadying force during a difficult time. If you hire a lawyer, you can focus on recovery, your loved ones, and sorting out parts of your life that have been interrupted by your accident.
Are There Risks if I Don’t Hire an Attorney After My Car Accident?
There are absolutely risks in failing to hire a lawyer.
While it is your right to go without an attorney, you may find that:
- Insurance companies are not your friend: Dealing with insurance companies is perilous. Uttering a single wrong word on a recorded call may compromise your insurance claim or any lawsuit you might otherwise pursue.
- You are quickly overwhelmed: Trying to balance medical treatment, rehabilitation, your professional responsibilities, family obligations, and a lawsuit or insurance claim may quickly overwhelm you. Spreading your attention so thin may impair your ability to handle any one of these duties well.
- You are compromising your health: Your recovery should be the focus after your accident. If you’re trying to get compensation for your losses, your claim or lawsuit may overshadow your recovery. This can cause both short- and long-term health problems.
- You are compromising your pursuit of compensation: Your health limitations and divided focus may be bad news for your insurance claim or lawsuit. A lawyer will have a singular goal: to win your case. You may be unable to focus as intently, and it’s understandable why a car accident can throw your life into chaos.
These are all strong reasons to hire an attorney after your car accident.
Services That an Attorney Can Provide
Personal injury attorneys handle every step in their clients’ cases at least once they’ve spoken with their clients about the accident. You should expect your personal injury lawyer to:
Complete a Thorough Investigation of Your Accident
A solid investigation is the foundation of a strong case. Your attorney, and any investigators they employ, may visit the scene of your car accident (circumstances permitting). They may obtain witness accounts, any video footage of your collision, get the police report from your accident, and secure any physical evidence relevant to your case.
Identify and Calculate Your Damages
Damages in a car accident case generally fall into two categories: economic and non-economic. Economic damages generally have a clear financial cost, with medical bills being one example. The cost of non-economic damage is not as clear, and pain and suffering is the most common form of non-economic damage.
Your lawyer will determine your economic and non-economic damages, then calculate their value.
Identify Liable Parties
As your lawyer investigates your accident, they’ll get a clear picture of liability.
Potentially liable parties in a car accident case include:
- A motorist who caused the accident data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) suggests that this is the most likely defendant in a car accident case.
- The manufacturer of a defective vehicle or component
- An establishment that overserved a drunk driver who then caused an accident
- A municipality responsible for dangerous road conditions
- A pedestrian, bicyclist, or scooter rider whose actions contributed to a car accident
Each car accident occurs under unique circumstances. Your attorney will investigate those circumstances and who you can hold legally responsible for them.
File Your Case and All Necessary Paperwork
Paperwork is a significant part of any car accident case. Your lawyer and their team will draft and file all paperwork necessary to complete your case, including any lawsuit you decide to pursue.
Complete Settlement Negotiations
Settling a car accident case may be the quickest, simplest way to get the compensation you deserve. Of course, the offer must always be fair for you to settle.
Your attorney will go head-to-head with the defendants in your case or the attorneys they’ve chosen to represent them. Your attorney will pass along any settlement offers you receive and advise you on whether an offer is fair.
Go to Trial (if Your Case Requires)
The American Bar Association (ABA) explains that civil cases settle out of court. Trials are rare. However, trials can become necessary either because settlement negotiations are unproductive or for other reasons.
A trial should always be an option that your attorney considers. Ask any attorney that you’re considering hiring whether they’re willing to go to trial for you. If they won’t go to trial when necessary, you might move on to the next candidate.
What Criteria Should I Look for in a Car Accident Attorney?
Hiring an attorney should not be your goal hiring the right attorney should be your goal.
You can use these criteria to evaluate a car accident lawyer:
- Their case results: Has the law firm in question handled many car accident cases before? How many car accident cases have they won? What settlement and verdict amounts have they secured for their clients? These are all relevant questions to ask when speaking with prospective law firms.
- Their client testimonials: Look up a firm’s reviews and testimonials, and not just the ones they post on their website. Using Google to scour reviews can provide an insider’s look at the law firm both the good and the bad.
- Their practice areas: You want to hire a law firm that focuses heavily, if not primarily, on car accident cases. Just as importantly, you want an attorney leading your case who has handled many car accident cases successfully.
- The longevity of their firm: Law firms enter the scene every day. You may rely on a firm with a long track record of results and years (or even decades) of relevant experience. Such firms are out there and may be more than willing to handle your car accident case.
Think about what’s important to you. When it comes time to sign on the dotted line, you want to choose the right firm for you, so research your options.
Questions to Ask Any Law Firm You’re Considering for Your Car Accident Case
Hiring the right lawyer requires research (into objective criteria) and gut instincts. You want your choice of a law firm to feel right, and asking the tough questions is one way to gauge a law firm’s authenticity and character.
During your free consultations with law firms, you might ask:
- Will I get my attorney’s direct phone number?
- How do I know you’ll make my case a priority?
- How much power will I have to make important decisions in my case?
- How do you ensure client satisfaction?
Feel free to ask any other questions that come to mind. If a law firm is willing to answer your questions patiently and provide answers that satisfy you, it’s a good sign. Conversely, a law firm that is impatient during the consultation may be even less patient when handling your case.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Car Accident Attorney?
Most personal injury firms that handle car accident cases charge no upfront fees or costs. Their attorneys don’t bill by the hour or receive a flat, guaranteed fee for each case they handle. Most personal injury firms work for contingency fees, which they only receive if they secure compensation for the client.
From a client’s perspective, the benefits of this contingency fee structure are:
- That you owe the law firm absolutely nothing upon signing
- That the law firm handles all case-related expenses, including filing costs and expert fees
- That you won’t have to pay the law firm a fee unless they win for you
- That you’re never required to pay out of your own pocket under any circumstance
Contingency fees ensure that the law firm and the client’s goals are aligned. There is no incentive for the firm to delay the case or to overbill the client, as may be the case with other fee structures. A law firm has a clear monetary incentive: to win as much compensation for the client and to do so as efficiently as possible.
What Damages Will a Car Accident Attorney Seek for Me?
Your attorney should seek fair compensation for all of your accident-related damages.
In car accident cases, such damages may include:
- The cost of all medical care for injuries suffered in your car accident
- Pain and suffering from your accident, which may include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), injury-related pain, depression, anxiety, and lost quality of life
- The cost of treatment for your pain and suffering
- Lost income, lost earning power, lost bonuses, and other professional damages.
- The cost of repairing or replacing a damaged vehicle
- The cost of replacing other damaged property
Every car accident victim suffers a unique array of losses. Your attorney will work with you to identify your damages.
How Much Is My Car Accident Case Worth?
The value of each car accident case is different. Once your attorney has gathered all relevant information and evidence, they may tell you how much compensation they plan to pursue. The severity of your injuries, the damage to your vehicle, the cost of medical care, and the degree of pain and suffering may all factor in your case’s value.
While a financial recovery may not heal scars from your car accident, this is the way we provide justice for non-criminal negligence.
Call an Attorney Today to Pursue Justice for Your Car Accident
Don’t wait to hire an attorney after your car accident. The countdown to your case’s filing deadline has already started, and there is no time to delay.
Call our law firms today, complete your free consultations, and get the legal help you deserve.