Car accidents are one of those things we never want to think about – as if they were a distant possibility. Being involved in an accident requires you to take care of so many things, like contacting the police, seeking medical attention, assessing property damage, dealing with auto insurance, and so on. Being such a stressful event, we are much more likely to make mistakes and misjudge the situation as a whole, when we’re not guided and counseled by a professional.
Insurance companies tend to have experienced and viciously prepared legal teams, so they will always try to minimize your claim – and sometimes dismiss it altogether. Without a car accident lawyer, you leave yourself exposed and vulnerable to crack under pressure from the other driver, their families, and their insurance company.
What to do after the accident?
So, let’s prioritize. The first thing you need to do is seek medical attention, regardless of the gravity of the impact. Sometimes, if you don’t do it immediately, that could be held against you in court, even for criminal charges of negligence. After that has been taken care of, follow these simple steps:
- Call the police: They will provide documentation of the crash and start an official investigation trying to determine the party at fault.
- Never leave the site unauthorized: If you leave the crash site before the police clear you out (or worse, before they even get there), you could face severe criminal charges.
- Notify your Insurance Company: Depending on where you live, insurance companies will have different types of motor vehicle coverage. After the crash, you need to call them immediately so they can begin their process.
- Exchange Personal Info with the other driver: Including name, phone number, address, insurance information, and anything you can think as pertinent.
- Never admit fault: The official investigation will determine who is at fault, so don’t rush into taking the blame, even if your conscience tells you to do so. Also, don’t sign anything that doesn’t come from the police or your insurance company, and most importantly:
- Call your Attorney: As we mentioned, you shouldn’t handle an accident alone. At that moment, you won’t be able to think straight, and you’ll be more likely to make mistakes. Call your car accident lawyer and follow all instructions and recommendations.
Why Should I Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
Lawyers specialize in studying and analyzing law to make the most out of their clients’ claims. Specifically, a respected motor vehicle accident attorney will have the necessary background when dealing with insurance companies, which are the most relevant players in a car accident lawsuit.
Think about it. These companies designed the entire compensation system, and they make a living out of it. So, they will always try to maximize their revenues, meaning that, sometimes, they might dismiss your claim entirely – unless you have someone experienced fighting for you and your rights.
An attorney will always remain calm and composed when at the crash site. They know precisely what to do and what to look for, so as you regain your cool and calm down, they will gather all the necessary data and evidence that will help your claim, later on, including:
- Pictures of the crash scene.
- Pictures of all vehicles involved.
- Police and medical reports.
- Witnesses statements.
- Surveillance information (such as outdoor cameras).
- Electronic evidence (including cell phone records, car data recorder, and indoor camera recordings when available).
Lastly, depending on which state you live in, you might encounter different kinds of auto insurance coverage. For example, 38 out of 50 states in the country use a tort liability system. After the investigation determined who is at fault, the other party can sue them for both economic and non-economic damages, without lawsuit restrictions.
Regardless of which party is at fault, a car accident lawyer will ensure you get the compensation you deserve while protecting you from an unreasonable settlement. Also, an attorney can appeal an unfair decision and turn the tables in your favor.
When Do You Need to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
While it’s true that you shouldn’t handle any type of car accident alone, here are the three most likely scenarios you need to contact a car accident lawyer to fight for your right:
1. When you need to negotiate with Insurance Companies.
As we mentioned earlier, 38 out of 50 states practice the tort system to determine fault. However, there are 12 states which practice the no-fault system – meaning that, regardless of who is at fault, you need to negotiate with your insurance company to discuss compensation.
If you try to negotiate with them by yourself, they will most likely undermine your accident to maximize their profits. A lawyer will be able to talk back to them and ensure you get the proper compensation.
2. The investigation determined you’re at fault.
If you walk this road unprotected and unsupervised, the other party will tackle you down for astronomical compensations – and you might not be able to recover from such a punch. Also, these allegations are never final, meaning your attorney can always fight back.
Some states have a comparative fault system, meaning the more fault you have, the less compensation you will receive – up to a full degree of total blame, where you’ll receive absolutely nothing.
3. Emotional distress or a significant loss of quality of life.
There are two types of compensatory damages when talking about car accidents: economic and non-economic. The first kind refers to specific and tangible values, such as medical bills and property damage. The second kind, though, refers to non-measurable damage, things that nobody could put a price to – including pain, suffering, distress, psychological grief, loss of consortium, etc.
Since these topics are so subjective, the other party will surely try to downgrade their importance on your life – and you risk losing a great deal of money if you just settle with what they first offer you. An experienced car accident lawyer will always maximize your claim, especially when discussing non-economic damage.