When Should I Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
Whether you were the at-fault driver of your car accident or not, receiving compensation from your accident will almost certainly be a hassle. Even though you must file your insurance claim within a specific time, the insurance company may take its time handling your claim. Instead of rewarding you with the compensation you need, the insurance company will dedicate its time searching for ways to deny your claim. To ensure that the insurance adjusters handle your claim fairly, you should consider hiring a car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help?
Hiring a car accident lawyer while dealing with insurance companies will keep the insurance adjusters accountable. Unfortunately, insurance adjusters will take advantage of claimants if they are allowed to get away with it. With a car accident lawyer representing you, you can rest assured that the insurance company will handle your claim fairly.
Some of the specific ways in which a lawyer can help include:
- Identifying the parties that may be liable for your accident
- Filing your claim, along with a demand letter that sets out your damages
- Attempting to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company
- Filing a lawsuit, if necessary
When Should I Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
When deciding whether to hire an auto attorney, one of the issues you may encounter is when you should hire them. First off, it’s never too late in the process to retain an attorney. That said, there are significant benefits to contacting a lawyer as soon as you can.
Hiring a car accident lawyer immediately is your best option.
One of the main benefits of retaining an attorney as soon as possible is that once you have a lawyer, they will handle all aspects of your claim. Your lawyer can assist with filing your claim on your behalf, investigating the facts of your accident, assessing the damages related to your accident, and remaining in constant communication with the insurance companies.
Your Lawyer Will Protect Your Rights
Another important benefit of immediately hiring a car accident lawyer is immediate legal protection. Insurance companies will not treat you fairly just because you are recovering from your injuries in the hospital. Once you have an attorney, however, the insurance company cannot use its usual tactics designed to get claimants to settle for less than they deserve. Your lawyer will handle all communications with the insurance company, ensuring that you do not say or do something that can hurt your claim.
Waiting to Retain a Lawyer May Hurt Your Claim
Waiting to hire a lawyer can work against you. If you wait too long to reach out to a lawyer, their ability to help your case can be limited. When you are unrepresented, there is always the chance that you can say or do something that the insurance company can use to lower your settlement or deny your claim entirely.
The Statute of Limitations
The time to file an auto accident is the cases statute of limitations. As an accident victim, it’s critical to understand that your claim is subject to your state’s statute of limitations. The statute of limitations sets out the length of time you have to file a claim against the other driver for your injuries. These laws exist to ensure that the facts of an accident are still fresh enough to investigate and can be used to determine who is liable for an accident. That is why most personal injury accident victims have periods between one year and six years to file their lawsuits.
What Happens if You Don’t File within the Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations for a car accident lawsuit will vary from state to state. While each statute of limitations differs, the result will be the same if you file past the deadline. In most cases, if you fail to file your auto claim in time, you will not recover any compensation for your accident.
Retaining a Lawyer Can Help You Feel Better About Your Medical Bills
Another disadvantage with waiting to hire a car accident lawyer is the effect that it will have on your medical bills. Even if you plan on filing a lawsuit to recover your compensation, you are still responsible for paying the medical bills you owe from your accident. This need can leave you feeling highly stressed. Watching the bills pile up as you wait for the right time to file your claim can add to the stress that you are already experiencing.
When you retain an attorney, however, you maximize your chances of obtaining compensation for your medical expenses. In fact, since personal injury lawyers take cases on a contingency basis, the mere fact that a lawyer has taken your case means that they believe you will recover compensation. For this reason, if you retain an attorney, you can feel reasonably confident that the other party will be liable for your medical expenses and other losses.
How Insurance Companies Get Victims to Settle for Less
If insurance companies are aware that a lawyer is not representing you, they feel more emboldened to harass you and engage in tactics designed to get you to settle for less than your claim is worth. For example, they may ask you for access to all of your medical records, saying that they need them to process your claim. In reality, what they are doing is looking for anything in your medical history that can allow them to categorize your injuries as pre-existing to avoid liability.
The same pretense gets used when insurance adjusters request a recorded statement from claimants. Insurance adjusters will pretend to be confused about specific facts of your accident and request that you submit more details. Insurance adjusters want any statement that can contradict what you have already submitted in your claim. Because car accident victims focus more on recovering from their injuries, they ignore their intuition and submit the information to insurance adjusters. Fortunately, when you retain an attorney, your lawyer will handle these communications and protect your legal rights.
Other Benefits of Retaining an Attorney
Proving Liability in Your Accident
To recover compensation, you must prove that the other driver was at fault in your accident. Proving fault is a complicated legal task that involves showing that the other party was negligent. Car accident lawyers can use their investigative skills and resources to determine the facts of your accident and establish liability to the insurance company or the court.
Evaluating Your Damages
Another benefit of retaining an attorney includes accurately measuring the number of your damages. Your lawyer can calculate each damage caused by your accident and provide an actual number for each damage. Some of the damages involved in your lawsuit may be intangible and difficult to calculate on your own. Your car accident lawyer can assess your damages and use a specific formula to help measure the damage.
Reaching a Fair Settlement
In your car accident lawsuit, you must negotiate the terms of your compensation with the insurance company. If you and the insurance company can come to an agreement, you will settle and resolve your lawsuit. The only issue is that insurance companies are not generally open to compromise. Instead, they want to wear you down until you agree to their lowball offers.
When you work with an experienced attorney, however, you can rest assured that your lawyer will attempt to negotiate a fair settlement on your behalf. In many cases, doing so involves submitting substantial evidence of your losses and tenaciously advocating for your rights.
Representing You in Court
If your case goes to court, your lawyer will represent you and present your case to a judge or a jury. Conducting a trial is an extraordinarily complex task. Insurance companies have teams of defense lawyers ready to vigorously defend against claims. If you try to represent yourself, you will be at a substantial disadvantage.
Reimbursement of Out-of-Pocket Expenses
Your car accident lawyer can also explain how your health insurance company will get reimbursed for your injuries. One of the standard options that car accident victims exercise is using their health insurance policies to temporarily cover the costs of their injuries. When you and your lawyer are successful in your claim, you will be required to forfeit a portion of your compensation to your insurance companies. The portion of your injuries covered through your health insurance policy will be the amount of compensation awarded to your insurance company.
Finding the Right Car Accident Lawyer for You
As the information above should make clear, it is in your best interest to retain a car accident attorney as soon as you can. But how do you go about finding the right attorney for your case? When looking for a lawyer, consider the following issues.
Your Consultation Should be Free
Personal injury lawyers offer free consultations. You should be very suspicious if an attorney wants to charge you to sit down and talk about your case. Finding an attorney who will consult with you about your case at no charge should be as easy as a quick internet search. You should feel free to consult with as many attorneys as you might like. There is no obligation to work with a lawyer that provides a consultation.
You Should Not Have any Out-of-Pocket Expenses
Filing a car accident claim can be costly. It can require many resources, including investigators, expert analysis and testimony, and much more. Litigation requires filing fees, discovery costs, and other expenses. Most injury victims – who might be out of work – do not have the funds available to cover these expenses.
As part of a contingency fee arrangement, your lawyer should cover your out-of-pocket expenses up front. If your case is successful, they get reimbursed for those expenses directly from your settlement or award. This allows you to file a case without having to pay all the costs of litigation.
Look for a Lawyer that Has Handled Similar Cases
Personal injury law can be very complicated, and many attorneys focus their practices on certain types of cases. As a result, you should seek out a lawyer that has handled cases similar to yours successfully. For example, if you suffered an injury in an accident involving a commercial truck, you should look for a lawyer that has represented truck accident victims in the past. When you work with a lawyer that has worked on cases similar to yours will increase the chances of obtaining the full and fair value of your claim.
A Track Record of Success
Consider an attorney’s prior case results when choosing legal representation. Ask about settlements and awards they have obtained for clients in similar accidents as yours who have similar injuries. While prior results are never a guarantee of what an attorney can achieve for you, they can be a strong indicator of how well a particular lawyer can represent your case.
Consider Your Communication Preferences
Do you want to discuss your case regularly? Do you only want to hear from your attorney when there is a new development, such as a new settlement offer from an insurance company? Ask about the lawyer’s communication style to see if it matches your preferences.
When consulting with a car accident attorney, you can get a feel for how they explain the legal process and other aspects of your case. If you do not feel comfortable with the way the lawyer communicates, you can always seek a free consultation with another legal professional.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney Today
If you have suffered injuries in a car accident, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as you can. Waiting can hurt your claim and jeopardize your ability to recover compensation at all. For this reason, you should call a car accident lawyer near you as soon as you can.
You have nothing to lose by scheduling a free consultation, so begin protecting your rights immediately.