8 Reasons to Call a Car Accident Attorney
Should I hire an attorney? This is one of the most common questions people ask after being involved in a car accident. The answer is fairly simple; if you were injured, your property was severely damaged, or a member of your family died in the crash, you should speak to a lawyer right away.
Fortunately, most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations, so if you’re not sure whether hiring an attorney would be advisable under the circumstances, you can speak with a lawyer at no cost and then make an informed decision. Also, most injury law firms work on a contingency fee basis, so if they don’t win your case, you won’t owe any attorney’s fees.
Here’s another question you may be asking: What are the benefits of hiring a car accident attorney? Below we’ve outlined a few reasons why seeking legal counsel is one of the smartest steps you can take after a serious collision:
1. So You Don’t Overlook Essential Evidence
Even if you intend to bring a claim against your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, you will need to prove causation and damages to win a fair payout. To prove causation, you must demonstrate that your medical bills and other losses would not have accrued but for the crash. To prove damages, you will have to show the kinds of losses you have incurred and their value. An attorney can help you compile evidence of causation and damages so your claim has the best possible chance of being approved.
If your case meets the “serious injury threshold,” you can bring the claim against the at-fault party or their insurance provider rather than your PIP coverage. In this scenario, it is almost certainly a good idea to enlist the help of a car accident lawyer. To recover a fair settlement, you will have to prove liability in addition to causation and damages.
The stronger your evidence of liability, the less likely the opposing party will be to dispute your claim. A well-credentialed lawyer can perform a thorough investigation right away so all available evidence of fault can be compiled. Since much of this evidence could be time-sensitive, you should contact an attorney immediately so the investigation can begin without delay.
A seasoned car accident lawyer will know the kinds of evidence needed to strengthen your case and can take the necessary steps to obtain it. This may involve filing subpoenas to collect evidence that is being withheld such as cellphone records or surveillance footage.
It may also be necessary for your attorney to interview eyewitnesses and consult with medical, financial, vocational, and accident reconstruction experts. One crucial piece of evidence could be the difference between winning a fair settlement and walking away with nothing, or between resolving the case quickly and having to enter protracted litigation.
2. So You Don’t Have to Provide a Statement to the Insurance Adjuster
Have you been able to return to work or physical activities? Did you have any injuries before the accident? Can you describe what you were doing when the crash occurred?
These are just some of the questions the insurance adjuster might ask you, and if you say the wrong thing, you may end up facing a dispute that delays the proceedings, reduces the amount of compensation you recover, or prevents you from obtaining any compensation at all. Your car accident attorney can take over all correspondence with the insurance company so you don’t provide a statement that harms your case down the road.
3. So Your Claim Accounts for All the Damages You May Be Owed
One of the primary reasons to hire an attorney is to ensure you don’t leave any money on the table. The insurance company is a business like any other, so they have incentive to pay you as little as possible. They might undervalue your damages or even leave certain damages out of the settlement offer entirely.
You may already be aware that medical bills and property damage might be recoverable, but if your injuries are severe, these losses might only account for a portion of what you deserve. In the state of Florida, car accident victims may be entitled to the following compensatory damages:
- Medical bills;
- Loss of income and benefits;
- Loss of future earnings;
- Property damage;
- Domestic help;
- Child care;
- Home and vehicle modifications;
- Other economic damages;
- Pain and suffering;
- Emotional distress; and
- Loss of enjoyment in life.
Depending on the circumstances, it may also be possible for your spouse to obtain compensation for loss of consortium. And if the opposing party’s conduct was particularly egregious, punitive damages might be available.
Punitive awards are intended to punish the defendant and to deter similar behavior in the future. They may be recoverable if the at-fault party acted with gross negligence or intentional misconduct. Punitive damages are sometimes awarded after drunk driving accidents, hit-and-run collisions, and crashes involving other reprehensible behaviors such as driving well over the speed limit.
4. So You Don’t Miss Critical Deadlines
If you miss the deadline to file the lawsuit, called the “statute of limitations,” your case will almost certainly be dismissed. An attorney can ensure you do not miss any critical deadlines that apply to your case.
5. So You Don’t Make a Costly Error
We’ve already touched on a few of the most common mistakes made by car accident victims such as providing a recorded statement to the insurance company and overlooking important evidence. But there are many other errors that could end up jeopardizing your case. They include:
Putting off the Medical Evaluation: Seeking immediate medical care is essential for tying your injuries to the crash. It can also prevent the insurance company from saying that your own negligence has caused the condition to worsen or that your injuries couldn’t be very severe since you did not need treatment right away.
Discussing the Accident on Social Media: Your digital content will probably be admissible in court, so if the claims adjuster reviews your social media profiles—which is very likely to happen—and sees a post that brings liability, causation, or damages into question, it might be used to dispute your claim. Photos of you out with friends or participating in physical activities, a written description of the crash, or a picture of you in the hospital could all end up hurting your case. Your attorney will advise you to stay off social media while your claim is pending. If this is not an option, your lawyer can explain the steps you can take to prevent your online content from hurting your case.
Ignoring the Instructions of Your Medical Team: The best attorneys take the time to understand their client’s diagnosis and prognosis so they can ensure the appropriate steps are taken to facilitate the recovery. Your lawyer can help you understand the critical importance of following your doctor’s orders exactly, which can prevent the insurance company from asserting that you have failed to mitigate the damages.
6. So the Insurer Knows You Have the Means to Enter Litigation
If you enter settlement negotiations without a seasoned litigator by your side, the insurer might be more inclined to take a hardline under the assumption that you would not proceed to litigation if they undervalue or exclude certain damages from the settlement offer. By hiring an accomplished trial lawyer, the insurer may be more willing to cooperate.
7. So the Claims Process Is Less Stressful on You and Your Loved Ones
Chances are you are not well-versed in the procedures, statutes, and case law that pertain to your claim. Having a seasoned legal advocate on-call to answer your questions can make the claims process far less stressful.
8. So You Don’t Have to Learn Complicated Legal Terms and Procedures
It takes many years of study and experience to develop a mastered understanding of the terminology and procedures related to auto accident lawsuits. If you hire a personal injury lawyer, you won’t have to worry about deciphering complex legalese. Your attorney can explain everything you need to know about the proceedings and help you understand unfamiliar concepts.
How Soon Should I Contact an Attorney After an Auto Accident?
Right away, preferably as soon as you leave the crash scene. Scheduling an immediate consultation will ensure your attorney is able to perform the investigation without delay. This is essential because valuable evidence could be time-sensitive, and the sooner you hire an attorney, the less likely you will be to make a costly mistake that harms your case down the road.
Discuss Your Case with a Car Accident Lawyer in Stuart
If you were hurt or lost a family member in an auto accident, turn to Donaldson & Weston for representation. Our personal injury attorneys in Stuart have helped hundreds of clients navigate the legal system. We will aggressively fight for the full compensation you are owed. If the opposing party refuses to settle, we will relish the opportunity to proceed to litigation. Call 772-266-5555 or message us online to set up a free case review.