Hiring an attorney as soon as possible after your crash could help develop a strong case, protect your rights, and secure fair compensation. However, when to get an attorney for a car accident will depend greatly on your case’s facts and circumstances. Your injuries, financial resources, and emotional energy could all influence your decision to seek legal help.
Enlisting the help of a car accident attorney does not have to be expensive or difficult. Most personal injury firms provide free initial case consultations. Here, you will discuss your crash with the team, ask questions, and learn more about the firm. This no-obligation consultation will allow you to ensure you choose the best-fit firm and are confident in its ability to secure a fair payout.
Consider Your Legal Options as Soon as Your Injuries Allow
Attorneys often encourage crash victims to contact them as soon as their injuries allow. Still, many injured claimants put this off because they’re concerned about cost. However, many lawyers work on contingency.
Car accident lawyers do not ask for upfront fees, charge retainers, or have hourly costs you must pay. Instead, they receive part of your settlement or court award as their payment for handling the case. This allows all victims to hire an attorney and reap the benefits regardless of their current financial situation. This also means you do not need to save up to get an attorney.
Lawyers want to go to work on a case as soon as possible because of the many benefits of a quick start. The earlier they sign on to manage your case for your injuries, the longer they have to preserve evidence, develop a strong argument, and protect your best interests.
How an Attorney Can Proceed With Seeking Compensation?
When a car accident lawyer manages a crash case, they handle all aspects of the claim or lawsuit. You get to focus on treatment and healing while they handle everything else. The goal is to get justice and hold the at-fault driver financially accountable for their actions. Most states allow victims to do this by recovering fair compensation based on their accident-related expenses and losses.
There are generally two options for recovering fair compensation after a traffic accident:
- Filing an insurance claim and negotiating a fair settlement agreement
- Filing a personal injury lawsuit, taking the case to trial, and winning a jury verdict
Most winning cases come from insurance settlements, regardless of whether your lawyer files a lawsuit. Yet, even when an attorney sues, settlement negotiations frequently continue. Most insurance companies don’t want to go to court, especially when there’s evidence to show their policyholder is likely responsible for the crash.
When you have an experienced lawyer handling your case, they will manage this entire process. You do not have to worry about any of it. They demand fair compensation, counteroffer, negotiate, and sue when they believe it is necessary. They provide regular case updates and explain your options, so you do not have to fret over which decision is best or what to do next.
Your Attorney Wants to Get Started Right Away
When you hire an attorney to represent you in a crash case, they could begin their investigation the same day. They begin identifying, preserving, and analyzing evidence and taking other steps to handle your case immediately. However, they will develop the case with the understanding that they cannot yet file a claim, engage in settlement negotiations, or pursue a lawsuit.
That’s because, before your attorney entertains offers from the insurance company or demands fair compensation, they need to understand the potential value of your case. This includes a wide range of current and future expenses and losses. Your necessary future and ongoing care and prognosis will greatly affect this value.
For this reason, your attorney will not attempt to resolve the case until your injuries heal, you stabilize, or experts confirm your likely ongoing care and future treatment needs. This could be several weeks or even months after the accident. Needless to say, by retaining a lawyer from the outset of your case, you give them the opportunity to accurately calculate your losses.
What if I Already Waited Several Weeks or Months?
If several weeks or months have passed since your crash, do not fret. While you can’t turn back time, you can contact a law firm for a free consultation as soon as possible. The legal team will assess your options and explain how their attorneys helped those in similar cases.
These initial case consultations are free, and there is no obligation to hire the firm. They are for informational purposes, and you could learn a lot about the timeline for your case, too. Even if you are unsure about your next move, discussing your crash with knowledgeable legal team members will not hurt.
Sometimes, attorneys hear from family members several weeks or months after their loved one suffered catastrophic injuries. This is OK, too. When you realize your loved one can not act on their own behalf soon enough, you should connect with a car accident lawyer near you to protect their rights.
An Attorney Can Start Advocating for You From Day One
When you hire a car accident attorney early on after your crash, they can go to work on your case immediately. You can count on them to ensure everything goes smoothly with your case while you continue treatment, recover from your injuries, and heal emotionally.
There are many pitfalls that could threaten your right to fair compensation. Your attorney is aware of these dangers and will offer advice and guidance to help you avoid them. For instance, they may recommend limiting all communication with the insurance carrier, at-fault driver, and others. You do not have to worry about giving recorded statements or communicating with claims adjusters when you have legal help.
Your attorney could help you avoid issues stemming from:
- An insurance adjuster requesting a recorded statement
- Lowball offers from the insurer
- Allegations that you did not suffer the injuries you did
- Accusations that your injuries are not as serious as you claim
- A denial of your claim
Your attorney may also recommend keeping the details of your case off social media. You never know what the insurance carrier might do to reduce your claim’s potential value. These tactics could include checking your profiles to see if you live an active lifestyle despite your injuries.
Preserving Evidence With Help From a Car Accident Lawyer
A car accident attorney will know the evidence necessary to build strong support for your insurance claim or lawsuit. While each case differs, much of the same evidence is available in many crashes. This evidence allows the attorney to document what happened, who was responsible, and how much their client lost as a result of their injuries.
When handling your case, your lawyer will investigate what occurred and could gather evidence that includes:
- The crash report filed by responding police officers
- Witness statements collected from the police report and independent interviews
- Photos and videos of the crash
- An accident scene survey
- Accident reconstruction data
- Physical evidence available at the scene
- Relevant medical records
- Expert testimony, especially from medical professionals
- Documentation of your expenses, losses, and injuries
With this evidence, they tell a compelling story that illustrates the proximate cause of the crash and how the at-fault driver is responsible. When presented to the insurance adjuster, this could lead to settlement negotiations and a fair payout for you.
If the evidence is not convincing enough for the insurance carrier (or there are other reasons why a lawsuit is necessary), the attorney will present the evidence collected to the jury at trial. A strong case against the at-fault driver could result in a favorable verdict and court award.
Understanding the Applicable Deadlines in Your Case
There are strict deadlines for filing the paperwork that begins a lawsuit after a traffic accident. These deadlines are set by state laws known as statutes of limitations. They generally vary from one year to four years, depending on the state. Missing any applicable deadline could result in losing the right to sue and taking the case to trial. This could also make it difficult or impossible to negotiate a fair settlement with the insurer.
There are exceptions to these statutes of limitations. You could have more or less time depending on the circumstances of your case and other factors. For example, when the at-fault driver was a local government employee, the time to act is often significantly reduced because the liable party is a government agency. There are also sometimes different deadlines when the victim is a minor.
Your Lawyer Can Manage Your Case’s Filing Period (and Other Obligations)
Understanding your case’s filing deadline isn’t as straightforward as you may think. When you work with a lawyer, they will understand your options and the timeline for your case. This is important because, as mentioned, missing a deadline could jeopardize your right to compensation.
At the same time, you do not want to wait until the deadline is near to get to work. Your lawyer will likely go to work on your case as soon as you sign a contract with them.
The steps they might need to take before deciding to sue include:
- Identifying the potentially liable parties and their insurance carriers
- Making initial contact with the insurer to understand the coverage available
- Investigating the case and gathering evidence to support the claim
- Calculating an accurate settlement range for your losses
- Demanding a fair amount from the insurance carrier
- Negotiating a settlement
- Preparing paperwork and filing official documents to begin a civil suit
What Should I Do After Suffering a Car Accident?
As mentioned, you should consider getting legal help immediately after your collision. Getting an attorney involved early on could make for a smooth claims process. Some additional considerations include:
Prioritizing Your Health
You should seek a doctor’s opinion at your earliest convenience even if you don’t think you suffered serious injuries. They can evaluate your condition and recommend a treatment plan that puts you on the road to wellness. They can also supply information to support your claim, such as X-rays and other imaging scans.
Heed your doctor’s instructions to the best of your ability. This may involve taking certain medications, attending physical therapy, and keeping all follow-up appointments.
Keep All Information Related to Your Case
The smallest piece of evidence could make or break an injury case. So, you should keep all documents and information related to your case. These items may include correspondence between yourself and the insurer, photos of your injuries, and receipts for out-of-pocket expenses.
Think Twice About All Settlement Offers
The insurance company may attempt to resolve your case before you’ve had time to hire a lawyer. Yet, an early offer may not fully account for your medical bills, lost income, and non-economic losses (such as pain and suffering). Instead, it could be an attempt to end your case as cheaply and as quickly as possible.
Being unsure about settlement offers is yet another reason to consider partnering with a car accident lawyer. An attorney can calculate your losses, negotiate a settlement, and fight for a fair outcome to your injury case.
You Can Talk With a Car Accident Lawyer About Your Legal Options
It’s never too early to begin a free consultation with a personal injury Attorney in Atlanta. From the moment you hire them, they can start working on your case and holding the at-fault party accountable. You do not (and should not) go through this process alone. With a lawyer, you get more than an advocate; you get a friend and ally.