There is no specific window for hiring an attorney after a car accident. We generally advise that you hire a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your accident. There is no downside to hiring an attorney, and there may be significant harm in waiting to hire a lawyer.
Why You Shouldn’t Wait to Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident
The typical car accident victim may not realize how at-risk their rights are after a collision.
You can compromise your pursuit of fair compensation by:
- Implying that you are at fault for an accident
- Failing to preserve critical evidence from your accident
- Failing to report your accident to the proper authorities
- Accepting a settlement from an insurance company or other party
Even actions that may seem like the right thing—an apology, for example—may be used against you.
Hiring an attorney is the clearest way to protect your rights after an accident.
How a Personal Injury Attorney Will Defend Your Rights After a Car Accident
A lawyer’s first instinct is to protect you after your car accident by:
- Telling you clearly what you should and should not do regarding your accident and injury case
- Managing communications with insurance companies
- Gathering and preserving evidence from your accident scene, circumstances permitting
- Helping you find medical treatment for your injuries
A capable attorney will generally advise that you not speak to others involved in your accident. If you must provide a statement to your insurance company, your attorney will help you form your statement. Saying the wrong things to an insurance company can have a devastating effect on your case.
Your attorney will also ensure that you document your injuries. When you receive medical treatment, your attorney will obtain documentation of injuries and medical care. This may help prove that your injuries are, in fact, accident-related.
Protecting You from Insurance Companies Is a Key Role of a Lawyer
Insurance companies can be an asset to car accident victims. However, you must know that insurance companies look out for themselves. If you present the opportunity for an insurer to deny your claim, they may do so.
An insurance company may:
- Look for you to admit fault for your accident or even coerce you into admitting fault
- Delay processing of your claim
- Misrepresent the coverages that you’re entitled to
- Try to find loopholes to avoid paying your claim
- Act in other ways that indicate bad faith
An attorney will represent you—not the insurance companies or anybody else. Your attorney can deal with insurance companies to ensure you get a fair deal.
Additional Responsibilities of a Personal Injury Lawyer
A lawyer may take a central role in your car accident case. In addition to defending your rights, your car accident attorney may:
Determine Liability for Your Accident
If you are to receive fair compensation, your attorney must determine who is liable for your car accident. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that drivers are, by far, the most common cause of motor vehicle accidents.
A driver may cause an accident by:
- Engaging in distracting behavior
- Being intoxicated or influenced by drugs
- Making dangerous turns, lane changes, or other maneuvers
- Failing to ensure that their vehicle is safe
- Engaging in any other dangerous or careless behavior
Drivers don’t always cause accidents.
Even when a motorist is liable, others can contribute to an accident, including:
- The manufacturer of a defective vehicle
- A municipality that created dangerous road conditions
- A pedestrian whose actions triggered a motor vehicle accident
- Any other party whose negligence contributed to a collision
Liability is not always straightforward or obvious. An attorney will take the necessary steps to prove liability for your accident.
Create a Comprehensive Case for Awards
Strong car accident cases take time, effort, and resources. An experienced personal injury lawyer may be best suited to create a strong case for you. Your attorney may combine evidence, witness accounts, proof of damages, their own written and oral arguments, and expert testimony. Collectively, these and other elements can equal a winning case.
Handle Negotiations and Any Necessary Trial
Most civil cases settle out of court, and your attorney will handle all settlement negotiations. Some cases require a trial, particularly if settlement negotiations do not appear promising. Your attorney may secure a settlement even after a trial begins.
Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer
Hiring a qualified personal injury attorney can benefit you in several ways.
By hiring an attorney, you may:
- Have more time and energy to dedicate to your recovery
- Have more time to rest, which may directly benefit your health
- Avoid stress and responsibilities that will likely arise during a legal case
- Benefit from a law firm’s experience and resources
- Receive a financial settlement or judgment if your attorney is successful
Hiring a law firm is never a guarantee of financial recovery. However, many car accident victims decide that a law firm is more capable of handling their case than they are. You may reach the same conclusion.
How to Choose a Car Accident Lawyer
Every car accident victim must choose the right lawyer based on their own needs, criteria, and intuition.
Some objective questions you may ask of a law firm are:
- Have you won cases like mine before?
- How long have you been practicing personal injury law?
- Will you prioritize my case?
- Where can I find testimonials from former clients?
Your initial consultation with a firm may be revealing. By weighing objective criteria and trusting your gut, you may find the right lawyer for you.
Contact a Lawyer as Soon as Possible
There is no time to wait when it comes to car accident cases. You may need to document your injuries and file your case within set deadlines. An attorney will work quickly to beat any such deadlines and pursue justice for you.
Call a car accident law firm as soon as possible.