Do I Need an Accident Attorney?
When you’re in a car accident, your first thought is always of everyone’s safety. Then, perhaps, you consider what you’ll do to repair your car. Many people don’t even think about a lawsuit until the bills start rolling in. If it’s a minor accident, that’s probably fine. But what if it’s a serious accident? How do you know when to contact a personal injury lawyer?
Who Caused the Accident?
This is kind of a trick question. If the other driver caused the accident, you definitely need an accident attorney. It doesn’t matter how nice they seemed at the scene or how expensive the floral arrangement they sent you was, if you file suit, the insurance company lawyers will come in with guns a-blazin.’ It doesn’t really matter if the defendant thinks his or her insurance company should pay the claim.
If you caused the accident, especially if the other car was totaled or someone was injured or killed, you might consider consulting an attorney. You may need one eventually anyway, so you may as well know up front what you should and shouldn’t say to anyone who contacts you about the case. If you elect not to consult an attorney up front, then are contacted later, decline to speak about the incident without one.
Was Someone Injured?
If the car accident you’re involved in is a simple fender-bender in which no one is hurt, you may be able to simply let the insurance companies handle it (but beware of cases of delayed onset injury). But if someone is injured, the medical expenses could start to rack up fast.
Was someone killed?
Wrongful death could potentially be a very large claim. In many circumstances, you won’t just be suing for the financial impact of the accident, but the mental anguish associated with the loss. The other driver’s insurance company may send its own investigators to do some digging to find reasons to limit or even outright deny the claim. This isn’t something you need to be dealing with right now. Since personal injury lawyers work on contingency (that is, a small portion of your settlement goes to pay for their time), you can confidently hire an attorney knowing they’ll handle the tough stuff while you focus on healing.
Did You Suffer Lost Wages?
Losing a day or even a few hours of work because of an accident during rush hour is unfortunate, but you may not need to get anyone involved. But if you lose significant pay because you have to spend time away from work, whether it’s because of your own injury or to care for an injured child or loved one, you may be entitled to compensation. This will likely go hand-in-hand with some pretty weighty medical bills.
Should I Trust the Insurance Company?
No. The people who work for the insurance company have one job their employer takes really seriously: If you’re not making money, you should be saving it. That means denying legitimate claims, talking people down on settlements and more.
The people you’re talking to on the phone aren’t necessarily bad people, but the have a job to do. But that’s OK, because so do we.