Why It’s Important to Talk to Your Lawyer After an Auto Accident
If you’ve recently been in an auto accident, whether or not to hire a lawyer has probably crossed your mind a few times. It won’t come as any surprise that our advice is “absolutely, yes — consult a lawyer.” What might surprise you is why.
1. It’s free
Most auto accident attorneys offer a free initial consultation. That means just talking to one doesn’t cost you a dime, but it may get a lot of your questions answered and help you decide what steps you really want to take. You may even discover you don’t have a case, saving you a lot of time, effort and money in the long run.
Even if you decide to go forward, most auto accident attorneys work on contingency, meaning the only costs you pay up front are hard costs (things you’d probably have to pay if you handled the case yourself). You don’t pay attorney fees until the case is done, and even then, only if you actually win or get a settlement.
2. You’re on the clock
Any kind of legal action carries with it a limitation on the amount of time you have to file your lawsuit. It may vary from state to state and even based on who you’re suing. Your lawyer can advise you about the statute of limitations and how it affects your case. They’ll also be able to advise you on other details like how to interact with your doctors, what not to say to the insurance company (even your own) and more. The faster they’re involved, the faster they can make sure no key errors are made.
3. Auto accident laws are complicated
Every little detail matters. If you leave something out, you could leave money on the table, or worse, lose or spend money on a case you have no hope of winning. Florida, for example, is a no-fault state, meaning that both drivers, assuming they’re following the law, should be carrying property damage liability insurance (PDL), which would cover the other vehicle and any other property damaged, and personal injury protection insurance (PIP), which would cover personal injury to themselves, their children and other qualified passengers in the vehicle.
In no-fault states like Florida, it doesn’t matter who’s at fault, you can still collect, but that doesn’t mean the insurance companies will pay out all you’re really owed. Even if you don’t plan to sue, a lawyer can interact with the insurance companies to ensure you get all you’re owed. If you live in a tort liability state or if you live in a no-fault state and discover a lawsuit is the best option, they can also help you prove fault, which is often complex given the varying testimony from you, the other driver and other witnesses.
4. Insurance companies, even your own, aren’t out to pay you
Lawyers can help you deal with insurance companies to make sure you don’t make a wrong move that justifies them denying any part of your claim. They can also advise you about the terms of your insurance policy and how much money you really have coming to you.
5. Figuring damages
There are a lot of things people who’ve been in an auto accident tend to forget to include when figuring their damages. Even those online damage calculators don’t always tell the whole story.
6. Discussing settlement options
An experienced auto accident attorney knows more than the law. They have experience with various types of cases, the local court system and even some specific judges or insurance companies. They can advise you about what options there are to settle if you’d like to avoid a protracted lawsuit and whether any settlements you’re offered are actually fair and negotiate with the other driver’s legal team to get you the most fair settlement possible.