6 Reasons Why You Should Call a Lawyer Immediately After an Auto Accident
No one is ever truly prepared for a car accident. One moment you’re simply trying to get to where you’re going, the next moment you’re surrounded by sirens, shattered glass, and responding officers as you try to pull yourself together and give an accurate police report of what just happened, shock and adrenaline still wearing off.
You probably have about a thousand questions running through the back of your mind: How serious are my injuries? Should I talk to witnesses? How can I prove the other driver was at fault? Am I entitled to compensation? What legal documents or forms do I need to submit? And when?
An auto accident lawyer can help you answer all of these questions and more. From the scene of the accident to your final settlement, they can guide you through the entire process so that you can focus on your recovery. Here are just a few reasons why calling an auto accident lawyer immediately after any accident is in your best interest.
(1) Meeting Legal Deadlines
Depending on which state you live in, you have a limited window of time to file a personal injury claim after an auto accident. In California, the statute of limitations for filing a car accident claim is two years. If you wait too long, you may lose the opportunity to pursue compensation for your injuries.
Keep in mind that the statute of limitations can vary depending on who is the plaintiff (the one filing the lawsuit) and who is the defendant (the one being sued). For example, if the defendant is a public entity or government agency, the time to file may be shorter. An experienced auto accident attorney can tell you exactly which deadlines apply to your case and ensure that they are met in a timely manner.
(2) Handling the Investigation, Evidence, and Paperwork
Directly after a crash, you may not have the foresight or physical wherewithal to gather all the evidence you need on the scene of the accident, especially if you’ve been injured or are still in shock. This is entirely understandable, and it’s all the more reason to call a lawyer as soon as possible after the incident.
Your lawyer can take immediate action and help you identify and preserve the most compelling evidence you need to make your case as strong as possible. He or she can conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of your accident, collect eyewitness accounts, gather photos and videos, examine and scrutinize your police statement objectively, and ensure all your paperwork and case documents are error-free and ready to be submitted.
(3) Claim Evaluation and Maximizing Compensation
How much is your auto accident claim really worth? Getting to the bottom of this question – if nothing else – is enough reason to consider hiring a car accident attorney immediately. Many people who try to find the answer on their own eventually discover (usually when it’s too late) that they overlooked a number of blindspots.
An experienced personal injury lawyer has the ability to see the big-picture value of your claim practically with their eyes closed. They will sift through data such as medical records, hospital bills, prescriptions, post-accident therapy, lost wages, pain and suffering to you and your family, car repairs, loss of consortium and other issues to determine the sum total of damages you are actually owed. Not only that, but the type and amount of compensation a victim is entitled to can change over time, especially if they need ongoing medical treatment. An expert attorney will be able to maximize your settlement by calculating your current AND future losses.
(4) Proving Liability
If you’re filing an auto accident lawsuit against a reckless driver, proving liability may be trickier than you would have imagined. Even if eyewitness accounts and police reports point toward the other driver being at fault, proving that they were careless enough to owe you damages can become an unnecessarily tangled, legal web. Insurance companies will be first in line to dispute that their policyholder was at fault for a crash, and they’ll use every trick in the book to refuse or reduce your settlement. With an auto accident attorney on your side, you’ll be able to shift the blame back where it belongs and recover the damages you’re owed.
(5) Dealing With Insurance Companies
Here’s a tough pill to swallow: Insurance companies are never on your side. No matter how friendly or neighborly an insurance agent may seem on the phone, keep in mind that they’re acting in the best financial interest of their employer, not yours. Whether you file a claim with your own insurance company or the other driver’s, they will attempt to settle your claim for the lowest dollar amount possible, despite how serious your injuries or losses may be.
They’ll try using a variety of strategies, such as luring you into giving a recorded statement, delaying your claim for no reason, offering low and quick settlements, or outright refusing to pay. A lot of these companies are multi-million dollar businesses with a team of lawyers on their side, and they know you probably don’t have the negotiating skills to push back. But we do. Our auto accident attorneys deal with these corporations every single day. As soon as they hear that you hired a lawyer, they’ll immediately start to tread a little more carefully.
(6) Litigating Your Case
When out-of-court negotiations are not working as planned and you don’t arrive at a fair settlement, you may want to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver. Suing someone in court can become a long, expensive, and time-consuming affair if you try to do it alone, but with an attorney by your side, it doesn’t have to be. Your attorney will aggressively litigate your case to give you the highest chances of winning as quickly and efficiently as possible.
At the end of the day, the most important reason to hire an attorney is perhaps the most often overlooked: to alleviate stress. Money is one thing, but your mental well-being is of equal importance. A major car accident can be an incredibly traumatic experience, but trying to handle all the legal proceedings on your own can lead down a rabbit hole that only results in more debt, problems, and stress than before.
If you’re worried about the cost of hiring an auto accident attorney – keep in mind that our representation is available with zero upfront costs and that we work on a contingency fee. In other words, we only get paid if we win your case. When a client hires us, they can take comfort in knowing that our only incentive is obtaining their highest possible settlement. We don’t work for anyone else – not insurance companies, not government agencies; we work for you.