Auto accidents are unfortunate and stressful situations for everyone involved. Add an injury to that, and it makes the situation exponentially worse. So when it comes to asking yourself, “Should I hire a personal injury accident attorney?”, there are a few things to consider. This article will discuss what you need to know about what to do if you’ve been in an auto accident and when to hire an accident injury lawyer.
What to do if you’ve been in an auto accident
No matter how well prepared you are, an auto accident is always scary. Whether it’s a small fender bender or a big accident, it can have a big impact on you both mentally and physically. Preparing ahead of time to know what steps to take in the event of an auto accident will help you to relieve some of the stress of the event.
At the Scene
The number one most important thing you need to do after an auto accident is to stay at the scene. Whether you are the one at fault or it’s just a small accident, it’s your legal obligation to stay there. If you are the one to witness an accident, make sure you stay there to report your statement to legal authorities.
The next step is to make sure all parties involved are okay and to move your vehicles if possible to protect the safety or other passersby. Determine the extent of damage made to all vehicles involved and if applicable to property in the area of the accident. Exchange information with the other party, you will need it for insurance claims. You may also want to take pictures of the damage and write down all of the information that you remember. Having well-documented images and facts can help with your insurance claim and coverage for collision repair on your vehicle. If the other party is at fault, this information can help your auto accident attorney. Even if the damage is minimal, you will want to submit an official police report. This will also help with insurance claims.
After the Accident
The first thing you will want to do after you leave the accident and have been cleared by paramedics is contacting your insurance agency. Filing an auto claim can be a lengthy process, so it’s important to get started as soon as possible post-accident, especially if you need to get auto body repair on your vehicle or injury treatment.
If you’ve been injured, the paramedics will transport you to emergency care. Depending on your injuries, you may need to seek further treatment or physical therapy. Another important reason to contact your insurance as soon as possible is to get coverage and information about how to get the proper auto accident injuries treatment. Your insurance company may be able to refer you to a provider for the kind of treatment you need.
Once you have started the process of submitting an insurance claim and have sorted through the information, you may now be deciding whether you need to hire an attorney. Regardless of whether you are at fault for the accident or the victim, an attorney can help to protect you legally or help recover money for damages done. When an accident causes lots of damage and injuries, it’s obvious that an attorney will be needed. But with smaller accidents, you may not be so sure.
Hiring a Personal Injury Accident Attorney
If you’re involved in an auto accident, one of your number one thought may be about hiring an accident lawyer. Car accidents that cause injury, fatality, or significant damage to property or the vehicles may warrant legal action. Hiring a good attorney, whether you caused the accident, or were the victim, can help you to protect yourself or get compensation to cover car repairs, hospital bills, and more. They can also help to relieve stress as you go through the process of dealing with the other party involved, working with your insurance company, and paying for repairs and medical bills. Here are a few things to consider as you go through the process of hiring a personal injury accident attorney.
If you don’t already have an attorney that you’ve worked with, your first step is to find one that you trust. You can start by asking family and friends if they have any recommendations. Your insurance company may also be able to refer you to a good personal injury accident attorney. Accident attorneys can cover a range of issues, so when searching make sure that you focus on attorneys that specialize in and have experience with your specific issue.
Some attorneys will accept cases on a “no win-no fee” basis. Make sure to talk with your attorney about fees before you make a final decision. The last thing you want is to end up with more legal fees on top of your accident fees if your attorney doesn’t win your case.
One situation that leads many people to hire an accident attorney for is in the case of problems with their auto insurance company. An attorney can help not only to make sure that the insurance company plays fair but also to help deal with the other party involved in the accident. Unfortunately, it is common for some insurance agencies to do all they can to avoid paying for injuries or damages. They are a for-profit company and as such are seeking to make and keep money. A personal injury accident attorney will advocate for you and do all they can to ensure that you are getting fair treatment and payout for your accident.
Whether you’re at fault for the accident or not will also have a big impact on which attorney you hire. If you were the cause of the accident, you will want to find an attorney that specializes in or has lots of experience defending. If you were the victim, you will want to find an attorney that specializes in prosecuting. It seems fairly simple, but the difference between working with an attorney that specializes in your needs and one that doesn’t can have a huge impact.
Before you settle on a specific personal injury accident attorney, you may want to ask them a few questions to get a better feel for how knowledgeable and prepared they are for your case. These may include:
- What experience do you have with my specific type of injury or case?
- How much of my case will you be handling yourself?
- What is a typical settlement range for my type of case?
- What is the anticipated timeline for my case?
- What out of pocket fees will I have to pay?
- How are your fees structed?
If you have decided to hire a personal injury accident attorney, make sure to contact them fairly soon after your accident occurs. This doesn’t mean you need to call them immediately after you leave the scene, though if you already have a personal injury lawyer that you have worked with and are familiar with, you could call them right then. Contacting an attorney early on can help you avoid mistakes as you move forward with insurance or in communication with the other party involved in the accident.
When do you not need to hire a personal injury accident attorney?
It may be easy to think that any auto accident requires the help of an attorney. The reality is, there are in fact times when a car accident lawyer is not necessary.
If there were no injuries due to the accident, a personal injury accident attorney may not be required. This could be from a small fender bender, a car scratching another while trying to park, or even a car accidentally rolling into the other. If there are no big injuries or injuries that require treatment and may be lingering, you may be able to just handle it with your insurance company. Always make sure that you are checked by a doctor before you decide to forgo an attorney.
If your insurance company is offering you a fair amount for the settlement, you may not need to hire an attorney. If you’re getting a fair offer from your insurance company, hiring an attorney could lengthen the time it takes to negotiate and could lead to less payout for you in the end. Just make sure that you really are getting a fair settlement before you decide to forgo an attorney.
How to Protect Yourself from Auto Accidents
While you can never completely cut out the risk of an auto accident occurring to you, there are quite a few things you can do to protect yourself and significantly cut down that risk.
One of the number one ways you can protect yourself from an auto accident is to always ensure that you are in the right mental and physical state to be driving a car. In Florida, three out of four car accidents involve alcohol consumption. That’s not to say you can never have a fun night out at the bar with your friends, but just make sure that you have the right transportation planned for the end of the night. Whether that’s a taxi, a car service, or a designated driver, there are plenty of options much safer than driving yourself home. Paying for a car service now is much cheaper than paying for a personal injury accident attorney after an accident.
Another important step in protecting yourself from auto accidents is to always stay vigilant while driving. This includes the most simple tips like looking both directions before proceeding through an intersection and always staying off your phone while driving. In 2015, over 3000 people were killed in crashed involving distracted drivers, and additionally, 391,000 were injured. Using your phone while driving is never worth it, and if a call or text is absolutely necessary, pulling to the side of the road to send it is the best choice. Following this simple but important rule will make a huge difference in your driving safety and help you to prevent future auto accidents.
Besides making sure that you are prepared to handle a car, you’ll want to make sure that your car is always prepared to travel. Whether it’s keeping up on regular maintenance checks, changing your oil, keeping the car full of gas, and many other things, your car’s health is almost as important as yours. Make sure you have a trustworthy automotive repair shop in your area that you can visit regularly to keep your car in tip-top driving shape.
You’ll also want to make sure that the place you store your car will keep it protected from bad weather and other accidents. If you park your car inside of a garage, make sure that the garage door functions properly and keeps moisture and other elements out. If it doesn’t, contact a garage door repair service to get that fixed and keep your car protected and ready to travel at anytime.
Unfortunately, auto accidents can happen to anyone, regardless of your driving skill or experience. If you have prepared ahead of time for what to do in case of an auto accident and what steps to take in regards to hiring a personal injury accident attorney, you’ll be able to avoid some extra stress in an already stressful situation.