Car accidents that usually involve serious or long-term injuries require a car accident lawyer to get the most desirable benefit out of it. Few experiences create the mix of confusion, stress, and anxiety that results from a car accident. We asked dozens of experienced attorneys across the nation to answer a simple, yet important question: “When do I need to hire a car accident lawyer?”
Anything you do at the scene of the accident and the later days after the accident can actually affect your ability to recover compensation for your damages. Checking out the right course of action can overwhelm a person on the best of days—never mind a person who suffers from the pain of their injuries and the anxiety of how they will pay for the expenses headed their way.
In this post we’ll discuss what a car accident lawyer have to offer during car accidents, including: organization and analysis of key evidence and records;negotiation taking that will get the best outcome for your car accident claim; and a network of investigators and experts who can help strengthen your case.
What Action Do You Need To Take Immediately After a Car Accident?
Stay at the scene of the accident. Leaving the scene of the accident could qualify you as a hit-and-run driver. If an individual suffered injuries or death from the collision, and you leave the scene, you risk facing criminal charges and serious penalties.
Instead, if your physical condition permits, check on the other people involved in the accident. If someone needs medical help, call 911. Do not move any individual who expresses they experience back or neck pain, unless a hazard exists that puts the person in imminent danger.
Call the police so they will send someone out to write and file a police report. You will need this report later when you file your insurance claim.
You should exchange basic information (your name, driver’s license number, insurance information, and license plate number) with other parties. Behave in a polite and civil manner, but do not say you are sorry or express any knowledge of wrongdoing on your behalf, as doing so will lay the groundwork for your legal liability.
If possible, talk to witnesses about what they saw and get their names and contact information so your lawyer can later talk to them about what happened and use their accounts to build your case for compensation.
Call your insurance company and give them the basic facts of the incident. Cooperate and be truthful; otherwise, they could later deny your claim.
You can also call a lawyer, especially if you suffered an injury in the car accident. Some personal injury law firms offer free initial consultations.
Car Accident Lawyer Duties that Are Difficult to Get on Your Own
Majority of people don’t realize just how much car accident lawyers do when working on a case. Here are some additional tasks they do that you might not think about until after you’ve decided to hire your lawyer.
What Will My Car Accident Lawyer Do?
While so much may depend on the specifics and the complexity of your car accident case, in general an attorney can:
- Gather the necessary evidence with respect to fault for the accident and work with your doctors to make sure they provide the medical information you need so that you can prove damages in your claim.
- Negotiation of a satisfactory settlement with the insurance adjuster or defense attorney.
- Discuss with the other driver’s insurer.
- Prepare and present the evidence in order to prove liability and damages
- Negotiation with lien holders on your claim (such as health, disability, or workers’ compensation insurers) to potentially reduce the amount of those liens.
More details of some duties of car accident lawyer:
1. Gathering Necessary Evidence of Damages
This is where a good lawyer can be essential to your case, especially when you’ve suffered significant car accident injuries.
It is critical to obtain all documentation related to your injuries, but it isn’t always easy to get your hands on those records and bills from health care providers. Although the records are technically yours, and you have an absolute right to them, sending medical records to patients and lawyers is just not a health care provider’s first priority.
Small doctors’ offices may not have the staffing or the time to respond to medical record requests on a timely basis. Large hospitals may have specific procedures that must be followed in order to respond to medical record requests. If you don’t follow their procedures (which they often don’t publicize very well), they simply won’t respond to your request.
Consequently, when the health care provider does respond to the request, the records may be incomplete. Any lawyer’s secretary or paralegal will tell you that they often have to request the same records more than once and that they have to follow up endlessly with the provider’s office.
However, it may turn out that the doctor did not use the “magic words” as to causation, prognosis, and disability in his or her notes. In order to successfully prosecute any type of personal injury claim, you must be able to prove, through medical evidence; That is exactly what your injury, disability, or physical limitation is, and that it was caused by the defendant’s negligence.
Doctors often don’t mention causation and extent of the injury or disability in their medical records. If this happens in your case, your lawyer will write the doctor and ask for a special letter in which the doctor gives his/her opinion that the accident caused your injury or disability and that, as a result of the accident, you will be hindered or disabled for a specific period of time.
2. Negotiation of A Satisfactory Settlement With Insurers/Defendants
Negotiation is a very specific skill (some might even call it an art). A personal injury lawyer is always going to be far better at settling a car accident case than a layperson would be. A good lawyer knows how much the case is worth and knows how to work the case and conduct the negotiations in order to arrive at the best outcome for the client.
3. Discussing with the Other Driver’s Insurer
In any personal injury case, your lawyer will open up a line of communication with the insurance adjuster for the other party (or parties) involved. The adjuster has the pocketbook, and so it is critical for a plaintiff’s lawyer to have good communications and a good relationship with the adjuster.
4. Preparing Necessary Evidence of Liability
A good lawyer can help obtain all of the evidence that you will need to prove liability in a car accident claim. Although you may have already taken photographs of the accident scene, your lawyer will probably go back to the scene him/herself to see what it looks like. While a picture may be worth a thousand words, actually seeing the scene can be worth a thousand pictures.
The lawyer will make sure to get all of the accident or police reports in the case and will often speak with the investigating police officers and witnesses. A good lawyer will leave no stone unturned when it comes to obtaining evidence of liability. Learn more about proving fault for a car accident.
5. Negotiation With Lien Holders
If you received benefits from a health, disability, or workers’ compensation insurer, that insurer will have a lien on your claim. A lien means that the lien holder gets paid before you do, out of any settlement or judgment you receive. A good lawyer will work with the lien holder to try to get the lien holder to reduce its lien. This is important work. Every dollar less that the lien holder takes is one more dollar that goes into your pocket. Learn more about health care provider liens on personal injury settlements.
Can I Hire a Car Accident Lawyer for a Minor Accident?
A minor accident can mean different things to different people. At its most basic sense in a car accident, a minor collision might consist of one in which you suffered no injuries. In this case, the insurance companies would enter into the picture, assess the repair estimates for your vehicle, and compensate you accordingly.
You do run a risk in this situation, though. As we have discussed previously, you may not be aware of injuries from your car accident for days following the incident. If the at-fault individual’s insurer calls you right after the collision and offers you a quick settlement offer based on your vehicle damage, you have no way of knowing whether you will later experience symptoms of physical injury. Once you accept the insurance company’s offer, you will be stuck with all the medical expenses and other related losses from this injury.
By hiring a lawyer for even a minor accident, you can steer clear of making these unfortunate decisions. At the very least, consider calling a law firm for an initial consultation. Most personal injury firms offer free case reviews, and they can inform you of your options for recovering your losses.
What Damages Can I Obtain for a Car Accident?
Damages for a car accident reflect how your accident-related injuries have impacted you. As such, many types of damages exist, and you can demand compensation for any type of damage that you can prove resulted from the collision.
1. Lost Income
You might find yourself laid up in a hospital after your car accident, missing days, weeks, or months of work. You could also suffer long-term injuries that prevent you from performing the duties of your job indefinitely. If your injuries affect your ability to earn an income to any degree, you may recover these economic losses.
2. Loss of Consortium
A spouse of an injured person can claim this type of damage, which relates to the injured individual’s loss of ability to show affection.
Car accidents can generate a wide range of injuries, some minor, some severe. As we have discussed, not all injuries show up immediately after a collision. This makes it extremely important for you to undergo a medical examination right after your accident. To collect compensation for medical expenses, you will need to be able to prove that the injuries resulted from the crash, and medical records will help establish this fact.
Types of health expenses you may obtain include:
- Ambulance transportation
- Mobility devices
- Prescription medicines
- Medical treatment and surgeries
- Physical/cognitive therapy
This list represents only a sample of the types of medical expenses you may recover.
4. Hardship and Pain
As we have discussed, pain and hardship can take many forms, any of which may be compensable after a car accident.
How Do You Decide On Which Car Accident Lawyer To Hire?
If you have ever been injured in a car accident, picking a car accident lawyer can be an added stress to the situation. Though the process of selecting an auto accident attorney should not necessarily be difficult, it is an important decision. Some car accident lawyers use an assembly line system to get one client in, get them settled, and get them out the door. This settlement mill process almost always ends up leaving money on the table and a bad taste in the client’s mouth.
So when it comes to choosing a “car accident lawyer near me”, be sure that the firm you choose has the dedication, drive, and resources to pursue your case to the lengths necessary to ensure that your case’s fullest value is realized. Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA has the experience, the skill, and the initiative to get the job done while still maintaining a strong focus on the attorney-client relationship.