Knowing when to hire an attorney after a car accident and when you can handle a claim on your own is not always clear-cut. If you do not know what comes next, you can usually discuss your options with a personal injury law firm team member for free. Most provide free, no-obligation consultations so you can learn more about their services and how they can help.
In general, you may want to reach out to an car accident lawyer as soon as possible after a crash. They can help you develop and file your claim, handling your case from start to finish. If you began your claim but ran into trouble, an attorney can also help you complete the task. When necessary, they could sue the at-fault driver or another liable party and even represent you at trial if needed.
Evidence to Support a Car Accident Case Often Disappears Quickly
Immediately following a crash, a lawyer can gather evidence to support a car insurance claim, including proving fault and documenting what happened. However, as time passes, this evidence begins to disappear. This happens as soon as the tow trucks leave the scene with the vehicles. First responders sweep the streets, witnesses leave, and rain washes away any indications of a crash on the roadway.
As time passes, more and more evidence disappears. Surveillance video from a nearby business that shows the crash usually gets recorded over soon after, and crews may trim any road obstructions or clear drains within days.
When you work with a team of injury attorneys that handles these cases often, they know what to do and how to preserve evidence.
This could include:
- Seeking access to this evidence quickly after a crash
- Obtaining the police report and other documents that can help your lawyer identify witnesses
- Interviewing witnesses as soon as possible
- Sending spoliation letters to preserve evidence when necessary
Preserving evidence could prove even more important in a commercial vehicle accident. The trucking companies that employ commercial drivers could bear liability for the crash. Meanwhile, they also possess a lot of evidence needed to prove these cases.
If the evidence disappeared, this would benefit the liable party.
Acting quickly to preserve it could allow your attorney access to:
- The trucker’s driving logs
- Post-accident drug and alcohol test results
- Any onboard computer data
- Dashcam video of the crash
- The driver’s employment file and history of previous crashes
- Other information about the driver and their history
When your lawyer takes the necessary steps to preserve evidence, it makes the trucking company or another party legally obligated to do so. However, you need to ensure this happens as soon as possible after the truck accident. Hiring an attorney early in the claims process can help you keep your case on track.
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An Attorney Can Help You Seek Compensation for Your Injuries
Following a serious car crash in Georgia, you likely need to focus on your health and recovery. You must get the medical assessment and treatment you need to ensure you do not have any significant injuries or stabilize your injuries and begin the healing process.
For instance, if your crash was serious and occurred in Fulton County or neighboring areas, you may have received treatment at one of the two Level 1 trauma centers for adults in Atlanta:
- Grady Memorial Hospital
- WellStar Atlanta Medical Center
Depending on your injuries and other factors, your treatment and rehabilitation could last a few days, weeks, or even months. Those with spinal cord or traumatic brain injuries could require intense, inpatient rehabilitation at a specialized facility, such as the Shepherd Center. This is one of the top rehabilitation centers in the world. You deserve to receive the compensation necessary to pay for all your treatment—including ongoing care.
Even though you could have months of recuperation ahead of you, you should not ignore your insurance claims. Medical bills, car repairs, and other expenses will begin regardless of your ongoing treatment. You may want to call an attorney as soon as your injuries allow. Once your injuries stabilize and you can make the phone call, reach out to a car accident lawyer.
If your loved one suffered catastrophic injuries and cannot call on their own, an attorney’s team can generally discuss the options with immediate family members for free.
When you work with a car collision legal team soon after your Georgia traffic accident, you gain several advantages:
- They can begin an investigation into what happened right away.
- You have a knowledgeable advocate focused on your financial recovery.
- You do not have to worry about filing claims or pursuing compensation.
- You can contact them or ask for an update, but you do not have to do anything.
- They can go to work on your claim or lawsuit while you recover.
A Lawyer Can Document Your Losses
Many of your recoverable expenses or losses occur in the weeks or months after the car accident. Your attorney can gather documentation to show your damages as they occur or as you receive bills, estimates, and receipts.
This could include:
- Medical care and related expenses
- Future or ongoing care costs
- Lost income from work you missed
- Reduced earning ability if you have lasting injuries
- Vehicle repairs and other property damage
- Miscellaneous expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Other non-economic damages
When a car accident victim suffers fatal injuries, Georgia law allows their immediate family members to recover wrongful death compensation. This includes a range of expenses and losses, such as funeral and burial costs, loss of service, lost income, and your family’s intangible damages.
Most car accident lawyers also handle wrongful death cases. You can get a free case review after losing a loved one by contacting a law firm and asking for a free consultation. They can review the facts of the case, your legal options, and other important information with you.
Attorneys Can Navigate All Aspects of Your Financial Recovery Process
Building a strong claim for compensation and recovering the money the victim needs to cover their expenses and losses takes time. Your attorney needs to investigate what happened, gather evidence, analyze it, and organize it in a way that ensures it supports the argument on a client’s behalf. Only then can they get started negotiating with the insurance company about necessary money for repairs, medical care, and other expenses a client needs to cover.
Your attorney cannot necessarily control how long it takes the insurer to agree to a fair settlement. Sometimes this takes a few weeks, and other times it drags out for months. However, insurance companies must move forward with claims at a reasonable pace. If they purposefully delay the assessment of your claim or negotiations for too long, your attorney may opt to take additional action to move the case forward.
When a crash victim tries to handle their insurance claim on their own, it can easily take even longer. A car accident attorney knows how to handle the insurance companies, the process necessary for filing a claim, and how to navigate it. They can represent you and build your case while you recover physically.
Investigations Require Committing Time and Resources
When an attorney handles a Georgia car crash case, they gather and analyze the available evidence to understand what happened and build a convincing argument to present to the insurer, judge, jury, or other necessary parties.
A lawyer understands what evidence the insurance companies want to see to approve a claim and payout a fair settlement to a client. They also know the tactics they may try to use to counter a claim, reduce the payout, or otherwise underpay a client. This is why a lawyer typically works to build strong support for every claim they file.
In a Georgia car accident case, relevant evidence could include:
- The accident report police filed from the scene
- Witness statements
- Accident reconstruction
- Physical evidence
- Relevant medical records
- Video or photos of the crash
- Expert testimony
- Documentation of damages
Building a case takes time. Your lawyer needs to obtain documents, track down and interview witnesses, work with experts, analyze evidence, and organize it into a strong argument for support. This could take several weeks or longer. However, the lawyer may wait to file your claim after learning more about your prognosis and expected future treatment costs. So, a lawyer often conducts this investigation while a client completes treatment and rehabilitation.
Your lawyer also works to collect evidence to prove negligence. You cannot hold another driver responsible for your car accident injuries without showing they acted negligently.
Negligence consists of four elements:
- Duty of care, usually established by traffic laws
- Breach of duty, often from violating a traffic law
In a car accident case, a lawyer needs to show that one party’s careless disregard for traffic laws caused the crash and a client’s injuries. This is the only way to hold a negligent person liable and recover compensation.
Liability Under Georgia Law
Georgia law allows victims hurt in negligent accidents to recover compensation for their expenses and losses. Under law, a negligent party may generally bear liability—or legal responsibility—for the injuries and financial harm that occur after an accident. Georgia also recognizes vicarious liability for employers when a commercial vehicle driver causes a crash. For example, trucking companies generally bear liability for truck collisions caused by their workers.
When a party bears legal liability for a collision, that party’s insurer should cover the losses and expenses experienced by victims. With an individual driver, their auto liability insurance provider should pay out. When the trucking company bears legal liability, its corporate liability insurance carrier will likely participate in settlement negotiations.
Accident Victims May Need to File a Lawsuit—And an Attorney Can Litigate
In some cases, an attorney may manage your case through litigation. This involves suing the liable party or parties and using the civil court system as necessary to settle the case. While these lawsuits could go to trial, this happens rarely. Instead, the parties continue to negotiate, use mediation, or take other steps to agree on a fair payout value before the trial date.
Lawsuits can allow you to put pressure on the liable party if they refuse to make you a fair offer. It may also provide a path to a negotiated settlement via required mediation, arbitration, or other options judges sometimes ask all parties to participate in.
Your attorney might recommend suing in your case if:
- The parties dispute the case’s facts
- The insurer denies the claim or refuses a fair payout
- Time is running out
- Other circumstances lead the attorney to take this route
If you decide to sue in your case, you must follow a strict deadline. Generally, Georgia law lets accident victims sue anytime up to the second anniversary of the accident. Some exceptions could apply. However, missing an applicable deadline could mean you lose the right to sue or take your case to trial in a Georgia courtroom.
Enlisting an attorney’s help as quickly as possible after the crash offers one good way to protect your rights and ensure you can take legal action. They can assess your options, explain your rights, and go to work on your case. As a part of this process, they can determine the deadlines that apply and ensure you do not miss them.
Most Georgia Crash Attorneys Offer a Free Case Review
You can learn more about your options based on the facts of your crash by getting a free case review with a personal injury lawyer. During this consultation, you can ask all your questions, get guidance about your next best steps, and learn when to hire an attorney after a car accident. The law firm can also explain their fees and how contingency fees work. Most firms do not charge attorney’s fees unless they win. Contact a team today to get your consultation started.