Being in a car crash can leave you injured, overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next. One of the first questions that arises is whether you need to hire a lawyer after the accident. This is an important decision that could significantly impact any insurance claim and ability to recover damages. Here is a comprehensive guide on when and why you should call an attorney after a car accident.
Understand Why You May Need a Lawyer After a Car Accident
Some accident victims hesitate to hire an attorney, wondering if legal representation is really necessary or if they can handle an insurance claim themselves. Here are some key reasons why it’s often wise to call a lawyer after an auto collision:
- Injuries create legal complexity – Severe or long-term injuries require experienced legal help to pursue adequate compensation.
- Laws have strict deadlines – Car accident claims must adhere to the statute of limitations, which lawyers understand.
- You need strong negotiation leverage – Lawyers have the reputation and resources to pressure insurers into fair settlements.
- Fault may be disputed – Lawyers perform in-depth investigations and accident reconstructions to establish liability.
- The stakes are high – Don’t risk getting taken advantage of by claims adjusters handling a case alone.
- Paperwork can be overwhelming – Lawyers deal with all documentation, filings, forms and correspondence for you.
Unless the accident was very minor with minimal clear-cut damages, contacting an attorney after a collision is usually in your best interests. An experienced lawyer levels the playing field against large insurance carriers.
Key Times You’ll Want to Call a Lawyer After a Car Accident
While every auto accident situation is unique, here are some common scenarios where you’ll especially want to contact a lawyer right away:
- You suffered severe injuries – Brain injuries, spinal cord trauma, broken bones, burns, etc. require skilled legal help to recover significant compensation.
- Someone died – Wrongful death cases absolutely require an attorney to handle the complex legal process and maximize damages.
- You’ll miss substantial work – Lawyers can quantify income losses and fight to recover your lost wages in full.
- Multiple vehicles were involved – Sorting out liability gets complicated with multiple impacted drivers and insurance companies.
- The other driver seems at fault – Lawyers can establish negligence through crash analysis and use it as leverage in negotiations.
- The insurer denies your claim – Don’t stand for an unjustified denial of your rightful compensation. Lawyers will challenge it.
- You lack appropriate coverage – If the at-fault driver has inadequate insurance, a lawyer can access other policies.
The more serious and legally complex an accident is, the more important it is to call an attorney right away to protect your rights and interests. Don’t try handling a major collision claim yourself.
Top Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer After a Car Accident
Here are some of the biggest advantages of retaining legal counsel promptly after an auto collision:
- Investigation and evidence gathering – Lawyers have investigators and resources to establish fault and secure evidence.
- Dealing with insurance – Attorneys field calls and paperwork so you can focus on recovery. They’ll also negotiate firmly on your behalf.
- Objective guidance – A lawyer only has your best interests in mind and won’t be pressured by insurer tactics.
- Courtroom experience – Lawyers aren’t afraid to file a lawsuit and litigate your case if the insurer refuses a fair settlement.
- Strict deadlines – Statutes of limitations and other deadlines won’t be missed with an attorney handling your claim.
- Maximized compensation – Lawyers will quantify all your damages and losses and fight to recover them fully.
Without a knowledgeable lawyer guiding you after an accident, it’s very easy to have your rights taken advantage of or to leave money on the table unknowingly. Don’t take chances with your one opportunity for just compensation.
When Should I Call a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
It’s best to contact an attorney as soon after the auto accident as possible. Here’s when to call a lawyer:
- At the scene – If you have serious injuries that require an ambulance, ask a paramedic or officer to call a lawyer for you right away.
- Within hours – Serious crashes require urgent legal help to avoid insurance statement pitfalls and preserve fleeting evidence.
- Within days – Less urgent cases still benefit from quick help negotiating with insurers and starting an investigation.
- Before providing a recorded statement – Insurers may try to take a statement quickly, but avoid this without an attorney present.
- Before accepting any settlement offer – Don’t take an insurer’s first offer without your lawyer’s review. Offers seem designed to be overly attractive before victims grasp the extent of damages.
The sooner you engage an attorney after an accident, the better. This ensures you have legal firepower on your side right away as you navigate the chaotic claims process.
What Information Should I Gather After an Accident?
Before calling your attorney, try gathering some key information that will aid your claim, such as:
- Contact details of all drivers, passengers, and witnesses
- Insurance information like company names and policy numbers
- Photos of property damage, injuries sustained, and accident scene
- Police report number and responding officers’ badge numbers
- Vehicle information like license plates
- Location details like intersection or mile marker of collision
- Your urgent medical treatment details
Don’t delay contacting a lawyer to begin gathering this information. Your attorney can coordinate getting any details you missed.
Should I Call a Lawyer After a Minor Car Accident?
Even minor fender benders should warrant at least an initial legal consultation if any injuries or vehicle damage resulted. Small accidents with clear liability and damages can be resolved more quickly, but legal help still offers advantages like:
- Guidance to avoid insurance company statement traps
- Assistance recovering property damage costs faster
- Knowledge to navigate injury claims and medical payments
- Power pursuing fair compensation for pain and suffering
- Expertise expediting the overall claims process
Don’t leave money on the table or struggle through paperwork alone. An hour attorney consultation about your minor accident can bring significant peace of mind.
How Much Does a Lawyer Cost After an Auto Accident?
Reputable personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis in accident cases. This means you don’t pay any upfront legal fees or hourly billing. The attorney only takes a percentage of your final settlement or award. If you get no recovery, you owe no fees.
Standard contingency fees are around 33% of a settlement. Do not hesitate to call a lawyer over concerns about legal costs. Top attorneys are happy to discuss their fee structure during an initial free case evaluation so you know what to expect.
Can I Wait to Call an Attorney After the Insurance Claim is Denied?
You should not wait until your claim gets denied entirely to engage legal counsel. Insurers know claimants without lawyers often lack recourse if unfairly denied. Calling an attorney immediately puts the insurer on notice that wrongfully denying compensation could spur litigation with experienced counsel. This makes them less likely to issue blanket denials in hopes claimants give up.
Retaining a lawyer quickly also allows your attorney to get involved early to prevent denials by ensuring you avoid statement pitfalls and follow protocols that strengthen your claim. Don’t wait to leverage aggressive attorney advocacy. Engage counsel immediately after an accident for optimal negotiating power.
Key Takeaways – Should I Call a Lawyer After an Accident?
- Contact an attorney promptly for severe crashes, disputed liability, injuries causing substantial income loss, or an insurer’s unfair denial.
- Lawyers maximize compensation through insurance negotiation expertise, litigation capabilities, evidence gathering skills, and legal deadline knowledge.
- Call a lawyer as soon as possible after an accident for fastest help establishing fault, avoiding insurer statement traps, and showing the insurer you have representation.
- Even minor accidents warrant an initial legal consultation to ensure you receive fair claim payments in a timely manner and don’t struggle through the process alone.
- Personal injury lawyers work on contingency fees, so you pay nothing upfront and only owe a percentage of final compensation. Immediately calling a lawyer costs nothing.
Being in a car wreck can derail your life. Before providing any statements or accepting an insurer’s first offer, speak with a knowledgeable attorney about protecting your rights. Don’t navigate the claims process alone. An experienced car accident lawyer has your best interests in mind and knows how to maximize your rightful recovery after an auto collision. We’re here to help when you need us most.
Frequently Asked Questions About Calling a Lawyer After a Car Accident
Will hiring an attorney raise my insurance rates?
No, retaining a lawyer does not impact your insurance costs or rates in any way. Rates increase due to factors like at-fault accidents and tickets, not by fairly pursuing compensation through legal counsel after a crash caused by another driver.
Can’t I just handle a minor accident claim myself easily?
Even minor wrecks benefit from attorney guidance to ensure fair claim payments for injuries, lost wages, and suffering. Adjusters pressure fast small settlements that leave money unrecovered. Small legal fees to secure full compensation are worth avoiding the hassle and traps of going solo against insurers.
Do I have to pay legal fees even if I lose my accident case?
No, top personal injury attorneys work purely on contingency, meaning no upfront fee. You only ever owe a percentage of a final settlement or award. If no recovery is obtained, you pay nothing for the attorney’s time working on your case.
What key steps should I avoid before calling my lawyer?
Do not provide any recorded statements about the accident, accept an on-the-spot settlement offer, or post about the collision on social media before your attorney advises you on how these could harm your claim.
Can I fire my attorney if I don’t like their handling of my case?
Yes, you can switch lawyers anytime if you are unsatisfied. But reputable personal injury firms often have teams working cases, and initially just need to be informed of any concerns to address them. They work for you and want you fully satisfied.
Suffering injuries in a car wreck causes enough hardship without adding financial and legal burdens. Our devoted attorneys are here to lift those burdens so you can focus on healing. We’ll handle the insurance negotiations and legal complexities while tirelessly fighting to get you properly compensated. Consultations about your accident are always free. Call today so we can review your case details and start helping you get back on your feet.