If you’re hurt in a car accident, it’s scary and overwhelming. You may automatically think you need to hire a personal injury attorney. In many cases that’s true, but in some cases, you might not need an attorney.
Below, we explore some situations where you may need an attorney following a collision and a bit about times you don’t.
What Happens After An Accident?
When you’re in a car accident, you’re probably in unfamiliar territory. You may be dealing with the other driver, the police, and insurance companies. Unfortunately, insurance companies may take advantage of the fact that it is an unfamiliar situation for you.
An experienced attorney can help you navigate otherwise confusing and complex situations related to insurance claims and settlements.
Right after an accident, you should contact 911. This doesn’t mean the police will respond if it’s a relatively minor accident, but you still need to contact them. From there, start gathering your own evidence, and if your accident was more than something very minor, see a doctor or get medical care, even if you don’t think you’re hurt.
Don’t admit blame or accept a settlement shortly after an accident without at least talking to an attorney first.
Situations Where You Should Contact an Attorney
Specific scenarios where you should most likely contact a personal injury attorney experienced with car accidents include:
- Any time where there’s an injury to yourself or another person
- An accident where there’s a clear establishment of fault
- Crashes involving another driver, a truck, a cyclist, or a pedestrian
- Any collision that occurs in a school zone
- When you disagree with the accounting of events in the police report
- A crash in a work or construction zone
- If you’re in an accident with an underinsured or uninsured driver
If you do contact an attorney, they’re going to want some information from you, including your medical records, medical receipts and financial documents is possible. They’re also going to ask about witness statements and their contact information, and they’ll get the police report if there is one.
Even if the police don’t respond to the scene of your accident because it’s minor, it’s a good idea to make an accident report because that’s beginning an official paper trail for your accident.
When you initially meet with an attorney, after going over the facts of the case, they’ll let you know the next steps.
If applicable, an attorney investigates the case and begins the process of negotiating with the insurance company.
Many people fail to get in touch with an attorney after an accident for financial reasons. There are a few reasons you should avoid finding yourself in this situation.
First, most personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation, where they’ll be upfront with you about what your next steps should be. The second reason you shouldn’t avoid talking to an attorney over money is that in nearly all cases, personal injury attorneys receive a contingency fee. This means if you recover damages in a settlement or judgment, their payment comes out of that final amount. You don’t have to pay upfront or if your attorney doesn’t recover on your behalf.
When Do You Not Need An Attorney?
Some of the situations where you probably don’t need an attorney include:
- There are no injuries. There are, of course, plenty of very minor accidents every day where no one is injured. There may not be any damage at all, but you need to be careful about making this assumption because sometimes car accident injuries don’t show up until later.
- There are cases where the math doesn’t add up to hire an attorney. If you have a low-value, high-mileage car and it sustained damage, and you weren’t injured, there may not be much of a point.
- In some instances, the amount of recovery might be so minimal that it would go to small claims court rather than making it to litigation.
Overall, a good rule of thumb is that it’s better to be safe than sorry.
First, get medical care right away.
From there, it might be worth your time to contact a few lawyers after a car accident, even if you think you don’t need to. They’ll either be able to confirm that you don’t have a case they’re willing to take, or they might tell you it’s something worth fighting.
By calling around a bit, you don’t have anything to lose. Get more ideas at Live Enhanced.