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When to Get an Attorney for a Car Accident

After a car accident, you may face extensive injuries, property damage, expenses, and losses. Fortunately, a car accident attorney can take on your collision case, protecting your best interest and seeking fair compensation.

But when should you get an attorney for a car accident? Is hiring a lawyer even necessary?

Following an auto collision, consult a car accident attorney as quickly as possible. A skilled lawyer can significantly better your chances of reaching a beneficial case result.


When It’s Most Important to Get a Lawyer Following a Car Accident

Depending on your circumstances post-accident, you may or may not feel like you need help from a car accident attorney. Not all collision cases require immediate assistance from a lawyer, although don’t make that decision on your own—always get a free consultation with an attorney.

However, if any of the following situations mimic your own, seek legal guidance as quickly as possible.

You’ve Suffered Injuries

Sustaining injuries in a car accident can affect you in the short and long term. You may face a long road to recovery, which may diminish your ability to work and earn a living. Medical bills can also quickly pile up, leaving you in a compromised financial position.

Some of the most common car accident injuries include:

Unfortunately, many collision injuries can worsen over time or result in life-changing complications, such as nerve damage, brain damage, and paralysis. Extensive injuries may require long term medical treatment, causing your expenses to skyrocket.

Suffering injuries heightens the importance of hiring a car accident attorney. A lawyer can determine the extent of your injury-related expenses and losses and help obtain full and fair compensation.

Fault is Unclear

Fault in a car accident isn’t always obvious, especially when parties point the finger at each other and claim the other is at fault. However, claiming the other party is at fault is only part of the equation—you must also have strong evidence to prove your claims.

A distressed man sits on the ground in front of a car accident.

Auto collisions happen for many different reasons, often involving driver negligence.

Some of the dangerous driving behaviors that result in car crashes include:

Other details, including hazardous road conditions and defective or malfunctioning products, may contribute to auto accidents in addition to driver negligence. If a negligent driver was working when they caused the crash, their employer might also share liability.

Often, liability can be more complicated than it initially seems, as multiple parties might share the blame for your collision. Identifying all liable parties greatly improves your chances of receiving total compensation, especially if you suffered serious injuries.

When unsure of what caused your accident, a car accident lawyer can clear up the situation.

An attorney can thoroughly investigate the details of your collision to take against all appropriate parties and their injurers. Your car accident attorney will gather evidence to strengthen your claim, getting you one step closer to financial recovery.

The Other Driver’s Insurance Company Has Contacted You

After a car accident, it’s not uncommon for the other driver’s insurer to contact you. They may reach out for numerous reasons.

First and foremost, the insurance company may request a recorded statement. A recorded statement lets you tell your side of the story, which seems innocent enough. However, the insurer has ulterior motives, as they regularly ask for statements to use the person’s words against them later. Complying with their request can have detrimental consequences on your claim.

The insurance company may also contact you with a settlement offer. Insurers know most victims just want to settle their claims and move on, making them more likely to accept quick settlement offers. These initial settlement offers usually offer much less than your case is worth. Therefore, have a lawyer review the offer before making any decisions.

It’s helpful to understand that insurance companies are out to protect themselves, no matter how much they may make you believe they’re on your side. Therefore, when the insurance company reaches out, you should proceed cautiously and give them little to work with. Instead, allow a car accident attorney to handle insurer communications to avoid any complications with your claim.

Your Accident Involved Several Parties

Car accidents aren’t always just between two cars. Some collisions involve several vehicles, and sometimes others, like bicyclists and pedestrians. The more parties involved in your accident, the more complicated your case can get.

Collisions involving multiple parties can quickly become challenging, specifically regarding fault. Many people may be pointing fingers at one another, making it tougher to pinpoint who’s actually liable for the crash.

A car accident attorney can manage communications with all parties and their legal representatives. Additionally, a lawyer can handle difficulties associated with multi-car accidents.

You Don’t Know How to Handle an Insurance Claim

Insurance claims can be tricky to navigate, especially if you’ve never had to handle one previously.

Two people review a document on a clipboard in front of damaged cars.

First and foremost, you must determine whether your state is a fault or no-fault state. You can file a third-party collision claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company for compensation in a fault state. You will file a claim with your insurance company for financial recovery in a no-fault state.

Insurance companies are also tough to work with. Even your own insurer can make the process harder than it needs to be. Having a lawyer on your side can help ensure a smoother claim process and a more favorable settlement.

How a Car Accident Attorney Can Assist You After a Collision

When you hire a car accident lawyer after your collision, the possibilities are truly endless. Regardless of the details of your case or whether or not your case goes to court, you can feel confident knowing your attorney is on your side from beginning to end, working diligently to get you the best possible result.

The following are just some of the ways a car accident attorney can benefit your case.

Explaining Your Rights and Options

It’s common to feel confused concerning your rights and legal options as a car accident victim. Once a lawyer has investigated your situation, they can explain your rights and explain the options you have to pursue compensation for your accident-related injuries and losses.

Investigating Your Car Accident

Investigating after a collision can help your lawyer uncover critical details and answer pertinent questions. A car accident lawyer can use their tools and resources to craft a strong strategy for your case.

Proving Cause and Fault

Definitively establishing the cause of your accident and the other party’s fault is critical to the success of your claim.

Along with determining the cause of your accident, a car accident attorney can satisfy the elements of negligence to prove the other party’s fault, including:

  • Duty: The other party owed you a duty of care. 
  • Breach: The other party’s actions caused them to breach their duty of care. 
  • Causation: The other party’s wrongful actions caused your accident. 
  • Damages: You suffered damages, including injuries and financial losses, as a result of the auto collision.

Cause and fault are two of the most important pieces of the puzzle when pursuing compensation after a car accident. A lawyer can assist with both, significantly helping you move along on your path toward compensation.

Calculating Your Damages

Knowing the value of your case is key to obtaining a favorable settlement. A knowledgeable lawyer can determine the extent of your losses and assign a dollar amount to your case.

Common damages available for car accident victims include:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Property damage
  • Lost earnings
  • Diminished earning potential
  • Pain and suffering
  • Disability

To understand how much your case is worth, a car accident lawyer can review vital factors, including, but not limited to:

  • The severity of your injuries
  • The total cost of your medical treatment
  • Whether you’ll require medical care for your accident injuries in the future
  • The value of your property damage
  • Whether you’ve lost time at work, and if so, the total of your lost earnings
  • How your accident has affected you mentally and emotionally

Giving your case a monetary value can be difficult, especially if you don’t know how to calculate damages. An attorney can determine your case’s worth and fight aggressively to get you the most just settlement.

Collecting Strong Evidence

Evidence is essential for personal injury claims, including car accident cases.

Examples of evidence most often used for collision claims include:

  • Photos and videos
  • Traffic cam and surveillance footage
  • Witness statements
  • Medical records and bills
  • Police reports
  • Black box data

If possible, you can begin gathering evidence at the crash scene, including witness contact information. Anything you collect at the accident scene and the days following your collision can play a role in your claim and is worth presenting to your lawyer.

As more evidence becomes available, a car accident attorney can request and obtain information and documentation that can be helpful to your case.

Handling Communications With the Insurance Company

Communicating with insurance companies is commonly anything but pleasant. When you hire a car accident lawyer, you don’t have to worry about communicating directly with the insurer, as your attorney can communicate with them on your behalf.

Because insurance companies always look for ways to minimize their liability for collision cases, never speak with them. You may say the wrong thing. A car accident lawyer can skillfully communicate to protect your rights and get the job done.

Engaging in Settlement Negotiations 

Settlement negotiations are critical to many car accident cases. During negotiations, parties to the case try to come to an agreement concerning a fair settlement amount. If all parties can agree, you sign some paperwork, receive your money, and your case officially resolves.

Finding success during negotiations if you don’t know how to negotiate effectively presents many challenges. Fortunately, car accident lawyers have experience negotiating beneficial settlements for their clients.

When you have a car accident attorney representing you during negotiations, you have a better chance of walking away with an acceptable settlement.

Taking Your Case to Court, if Necessary

Not all car accident cases go to court. In fact, most personal injury cases, including collision cases, settle before going to trial. Still, some cases do see the inside of a courtroom, especially if parties are unable to agree during negotiations.

A small toy car on a gavel with scales of justice in background.

Going to trial can seem stressful and daunting, but your car accident lawyer can continue handling your case until the end. During the trial, your attorney presents their case to a judge and sometimes a jury, along with evidence and testimony. Should the judge or jury rule in your favor, you’ll receive your money, and your case concludes.

After a Crash and Injuries, Time is Limited to Take Action – Consult a Car Accident Attorney Right Away

Following an auto collision, time is limited to take legal action for compensation. State law imposes a statute of limitations, allowing plaintiffs a short amount of time to file their claims in court. The time you have depends on your state’s laws.

You may only have one to six years to file your legal claim for car accident cases. While this may seem like a sufficient amount of time, it takes lawyers time to do the preliminary work involved before filing lawsuits. Therefore, give your attorney plenty of time to handle your case efficiently.

If you’re wondering when to get an attorney for a car accident, the short and simple answer is right away. The sooner you meet with a lawyer and discuss your situation, the sooner they can begin working on your case, helping to avoid running out of time.

Schedule a free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney in your area now. Doing so can only help your situation.