If you’ve been involved in a car accident, you’re most likely facing a number of uncertainties. You’ve got to deal with damage to your vehicle, possible injuries to yourself or to your loved ones, and all the other different issues that go along with recovering from the aftermath of a major accident. With all of these things on your mind, you’re probably not thinking about when to get an attorney for a car accident.
Yet the truth is that you may very well need to retain the services of a good attorney in order to protect your interests. If you’ve been involved in an accident through no fault of your own, you’re most certainly going to need someone in your corner to protect your rights and to ensure that the other driver’s insurance company makes you whole. This important guide will reveal to you a number of important things — not just when to get an attorney for a car accident, but also when you need one, what you should do after being involved in an accident, and anything else you need to know.
In the Wake of an Accident: What to Do
Being involved in a car accident is often highly traumatic. Even if you’re not seriously injured, you could still be disoriented, scared, and confused. However, it’s important to take a breath and attempt to remain calm so you can take appropriate action.
To that end, the first step for anyone involved in an accident is to always call for help. Ensure that first responders are on their way. This includes not just police but an ambulance and possibly even the fire department if the accident is severe enough. You and anyone else involved in the accident should get thoroughly examined for injuries by the authorities while on site.
If you’re capable enough, you should also begin to document the accident site as much as you can. Use your phone to take pictures of your vehicle and any other cars involved in the collision, the roadway in both directions, nearby intersections, traffic signs and signals, and anything else you think may be relevant. Doing so will help you prevail during any subsequent insurance claims.
Finally, be sure to collect the information of everyone involved in the accident. Exchange names, addresses, and insurance information with any other drivers, take down the names and phone numbers of any witnesses to the accident, and be sure to request a copy of the accident report from the police personnel that responded to the accident. Be careful, though — don’t discuss blame. You don’t want to say something that could be misinterpreted as admitting being at fault for the accident.
Finally, after you leave the scene of the accident, get examined by your doctor at your earliest convenience. You may be suffering from an injury that’s not outwardly visible, such as a concussion, and such potentially life-altering injuries should never be treated lightly. This also helps to establish a medical record related to the car accident, and documentation to that effect may play an important role in seeking compensation from an insurance company.
When to Get an AttorneySometimes you’re not sure when to get an attorney for a car accident, or even if you need one. The truth is, though, that there are a number of circumstances when having a lawyer to represent your interests is a good idea. If your accident caused any serious injuries that required a doctor’s care, or if the accident led to a fatality, this is a strong indication that you need to sit down with an attorney and have a discussion.
There are other times that getting an attorney are also appropriate. If there are inaccuracies in the police report, or if it incorrectly places you at fault for the accident, an attorney can help you set the record straight. Additionally, even if the accident was clearly the fault of the other driver, it’s still recommended to have an attorney on your side, especially if you’ve been injured.
Finally, if you’ve initially begun the process of making a claim against an insurance company for damages stemming from the accident, you may want to enlist the aid of a good attorney if you’re having difficulties with this process. Negotiating with an insurance company can be stressful for those who don’t do it for a living, and this can be even more difficult if you’re recovering from a serious injury. That’s why most personal injury experts will recommend using an attorney from the very beginning if at all possible — especially if the insurance company isn’t treating you fairly or not acting in good faith.
Why You Should Contact an Attorney Early
The answer to when to get an attorney for a car accident is simple: the earlier, the better. The driver at fault will tell their insurer, who will then attempt to contact you in order to discuss the accident. However, giving a statement to an insurance company without first talking to an attorney is never, ever a good idea.
It’s important to remember that insurers are not interested in doing right by you. Insurers are concerned with only one thing: how much money they can make as a for-profit business. This means taking in as much as they can in the form of insurance premium payments and giving out as little as possible in the form of insurance claims.
Insurers are motivated to convince you to take as low a settlement claim as possible. Unless you have someone in your corner — in this instance, a personal injury attorney — insurance companies will use every tactic and strategy they can to achieve that goal. Meanwhile, the only job your lawyer has is to explicitly represent your interests. An attorney will fight for you to ensure you get exactly what you deserve and not a penny less.
Finally, once you’ve been involved in a car accident where you’ve been injured, the clock begins ticking. statute of limitations for personal injury in Texas is only two years, so it’s important to begin the process of filing an injury claim as quickly as possible. Enlisting the aid of an experienced attorney is an important step in ensuring that this statute of limitations doesn’t preclude you from making a claim.
What Your Attorney Will Do For YouIf you’ve decided that now is when to get an attorney for a car accident, congratulations — you’ve made the right decision by enlisting a powerful ally in your quest to recover your damages from an at-fault driver. At this point, you’ll have a detailed discussion with your attorney where you’ll provide them with everything you have regarding the accident. He or she will then begin to calculate how much compensation you deserve.
There are a number of factors that come into play when it comes to compensation awards. These factors include the following:
- Current and future expected medical costs: if you’ve been injured seriously enough to require additional treatment or surgeries, the cost of this treatment will be included in a settlement amount.
- Lost wages: If you’ve missed work because you were receiving medical care or while recovering from your injuries, you’re entitled to recover your lost wages.
- Reduced earning capacity: If your ability to earn a future living has either temporarily or permanently been reduced due to your injury, you are also entitled to be compensated for this loss.
- Pain and suffering: Putting a monetary value on the pain and suffering you endured because of an accident is difficult to quantify. Your attorney knows the best course of action for doing so.
- Punitive damages: If the at-fault driver was being malicious or reckless, and this behavior caused the accident, you may be entitled to additional compensation as a way to punish the driver for their actions.
From Negotiation to Settlement to Beyond
Your attorney is instrumental in negotiating with an insurance company on your behalf. He or she is also crucial for forging a fair settlement between you and that insurer. However, in cases where the insurance company refuses to settle your case or doesn’t offer a large enough settlement to cover the costs of your medical care and lost wages, you may need to take the insurer to trial. In this instance, your personal injury lawyer will once again prove his or her worth.
It’s for this reason alone that when push comes to shove it’s always a good idea to get an attorney any time you’re injured through no fault of your own. The benefits of having a good lawyer on your side are innumerable. If you want to protect your interests in the wake of an accident the question you’re asking yourself shouldn’t be when to get an attorney for a car accident — it should be why haven’t you gotten one already.