What does a Car Accident Attorney do?
Car accidents can be scary and distressing and often leave the victim with many concerns that need to be addressed.
- Was anybody seriously injured?
- Do the police need to get involved?
- Was there significant property damage beyond the damage done to the vehicles involved?
These type of questions arise in every accident and accordingly, need to be handled with the utmost of care.
The most serious car accidents can normally result in both property damage and personal injury. Substantial property damage and any injury to a person will likely result in police attention and a trip to a nearby hospital. When police are involved the participants in the accident need to understand that this situation can be very serious, and that the police will assess damage, assess the need for medical treatment, take statements of the drivers involved, and maybe even take statements from witnesses. The above sequence of events is likely to result in the issuing of a citation and sometimes an arrest.
So what should you do, and what should you not do if you get into an accident? The answer to that question, along with many legal question starts with an “it depends…”
Each accident is different and the steps you should take could vary greatly. For instance, if you were in a simple fender bender where there was only minimal damage, you may need to only call the police and exchange each other’s name and insurance information. If you were in a catastrophic accident and you were able to do things like make a phone call, you may want to call the police, look for eyewitnesses to the collision and take pictures of the condition of the cars involved and the nearby scene. You may also want to call a loved one and arrange to be taken to the hospital. If involved in a serious accident, you may want to go to the hospital and get a check-up even if you feel fine. There are many instances where injuries or symptoms do not show up until well after the accident.
After the accident has occurred, you may want to seek out the services of an attorney. If you will need extensive medical care and rehabilitation, you most certainly will need to speak to one. In these circumstances, insurance companies will want to speak with you immediately. You should most likely refrain from doing so until you speak with an attorney, or at least let the insurance company know that you will be seeking out an attorney before you give out a statement.
What some people don’t realize about the car accident process is that it takes a very long time. These cases are usually done on a contingency basis, meaning that you will likely not have to pay any upfront cost until after you receive judgment or settlement. Usually, that means you will not have to expend funds to see doctors or chiropractors for the duration of a claim that could take well over a year to conclude. A car accident attorney can walk you through this process and help you get to a clinic or auto body shop to help fix your car.
When would l need a Car Accident Attorney?
You will need a car accident attorney anytime you have been involved in a serious collision. This can be tricky in that attorneys don’t usually take on cases where there is only property damage to a vehicle unless the vehicle is particularly valuable. Most of these cases stem from a severe bodily injury that a driver or passenger has suffered during an accident.
Please note that when a person gets into any type of collision, there are likely to be affects that you may not realize you have suffered until later. Often neck and back pain do not fully reveal themselves until hours or days after the accident. In this case you will need to see a specialist for medical care and speak to an attorney. Latent injuries are common and you will want to get the proper attention to prevent the injury from getting worse.
Often times people concern themselves with only their point of view. People usually don’t think they have done anything wrong and are reluctant to take the blame for an accident. This issue can further be complicated when the person gets a claim filed against them for a car accident. Now, if you have insurance you need not worry because the insurance company is there to defend you against the claim. However, if your policy has a low limit and the person claiming against you has extensive bodily injury you may be personally liable for the amount over the policy limit. In that case you may want to consult with your own attorney to go over a strategy best suited for you.
You may also be in a situation where you start by negotiating a settlement directly with an insurance company and not having an attorney represent your but then for a myriad of reasons the claim gets unreasonably delayed or ignored by the insurance company. In that case, many states have passed bad faith insurance statutes that entitle you to a separate claim against an insurer for unreasonably delaying in paying out a settlement. You would then certainly want to retain the services of an attorney for you claim against the insurance provider.
Signs you need to speak to a Car Accident Attorney
- You have suffered bodily injury in a car accident
- An insurance company is not cooperating with your claim
- You were in an accident with a person who did not have insurance
How do you choose a Car Accident Attorney?
So this part of the search is tricky. You likely have seen many advertisements for local attorneys looking to take your case. Most commercials about lawyers are geared toward car accidents or mass medication defect cases. The reason for this is pretty simple, car accidents happen constantly. It’s probably the single most common legal issue the average person has. Unfortunately, most drivers are likely to get in a car accident at some point in their lives. Because of the abundance of possible cases, your are left with no shortage of options.
The abundance of options for these type of claims necessitate that you take extra care in find an attorney that is reputable and likely to produce favorable results. Car accident cases are also probably the most accessible type of legal help you can get as you normally don’t have to worry about paying a retainer, as I mentioned earlier; these cases are done on a contingency so there are usually no upfront costs.
Since there are many options and you can pretty much pick any attorney you want as you are not limited by paying a retainer, you can try to find the best lawyer in your area to assist you.
- Determine Your Needs
This step is simple, if you have been in an accident were you have suffered bodily injury you will need to find a personal injury attorney that specializes in car accidents. If you have severe injuries that your insurance doesn’t necessarily cover, you may also want to find an attorney that has a network of medical care providers that they have worked for in the past. Some of these providers can do the work on a lien basis where they provide the medical care first and retain a legal right to a portion of any recovery you get in your car accident claim.
- Research Online
As mentioned above, this step should be simple. Simply run a search looking for a car accident attorney in your area online. Take a look at the website for the attorney. Most attorneys that handle these cases post information on results that they have been able to get for the clients, sometimes even detailing the award settlement. Take a look at the results and the years of experience. Be sure that you have found a well-resourced and experienced attorney
- Check the State Bar Association’s Website for any Disciplinary History
For an attorney that you have picked, you will want to look up their disciplinary history in your state’s bar association. Pay particular attention to if that attorney has been cited or reprimanded for mishandling a client’s funds or any fee disputes the attorney may have incurred. Though there might be a reasonable explanation for the issue, you may want to ask the attorney questions about the issue, or stay clear of that attorney altogether.
- Schedule an Appointment with a Accident Attorney
After you have found an attorney you would like to speak to, schedule an appointment. Many attorneys offer free consultations, so take advantage of the ones that do. You will also want to make sure you ask questions like whether all costs for the case are taken out of the settlement amount or reward, or if there are some things you have to pay for when they come to pass like costs for deposition or filing fees. Not all firms cover everything under a contingency case.