Knowing when to get an attorney for a car accident case is essential for ensuring you recover the compensation you deserve. In most states, you can hold the at-fault driver legally liable for your related expenses and losses. This could include medical care, lost income, pain, and suffering.
Working with a car crash lawyer may be the best option to help ensure you recover an appropriate payout based on your injuries and damages. Enlist this lawyer as soon as your injuries are well enough to make the call, and they can handle your entire claim. At the very least, consult an attorney before signing any agreements with an insurance company.
Priorities Immediately Following a Crash
Your safety and well-being must be your primary concern in the minutes and hours following a crash. At the scene, you must focus on staying safe until first responders arrive, getting assessed, and receiving the care you need.
Document the Scene
If possible, collect evidence to support your case later. This could include taking pictures of all vehicles and the scene, getting contact information from any witnesses, and taking pictures of the other drivers’ insurance cards. However, do not worry about it if you have injuries that make it difficult or if first responders recommend immediate treatment.
Seek Prompt Medical Help
Generally, when paramedics arrive, they will assess your injuries and make a recommendation.
This could include:
- Transferring to the nearest trauma center
- Taking an ambulance to the nearest emergency department
- Seeing a doctor as soon as possible after leaving the scene
- Going to an urgent care center or walk-in clinic to clear you of injuries shortly after the crash
Take their advice and get the necessary care. Sometimes, injuries, such as whiplash, take a few days to show symptoms, according to the Mayo Clinic. You want to address any injuries before they lead to further complications.
Seeking medical attention is essential for the best outcome physically as well as financially. You should follow all advice and any treatment plans from your doctor.
Considering Your Options for Compensation
Your options for recovering compensation after a car crash depend on the laws in your state, what caused the crash, and other facts unique to your case. Most states allow you to pursue a case against the driver whose mistakes behind the wheel caused the collision. This action is possible through a personal injury lawsuit or a settlement their insurance provider pays.
In many states, the latter is the first option. Regardless of the severity of your injuries and other facts, you can build a case against the at-fault driver and hold them legally responsible for your injuries. This way, you could recover compensation for your medical care, lost income, injuries, and other expenses and losses related to your crash.
No-Fault vs. Fault Insurance
Some states operate under fault insurance law, meaning the at-fault party covers the other’s damages after a crash. However, other states offer or require no-fault insurance that pays for your basic losses in a relatively minor crash. This coverage includes:
- Medical care up to policy limits
- Some of your missed income
- Other related expenses up to a daily maximum
Unlike many states that mandate fault-based coverage, no-fault coverage generally does not pay anything for the pain and suffering you endured because of your injuries. However, when a victim has a serious injury, they can pursue a claim against the at-fault driver.
This payout may include:
- Medical care
- Lost income
- Reduced earning ability
- Future care expenses
- Pain and suffering
Understanding your options following a crash is often complex. You could still have a range of options regardless of the applicable laws. Discussing what is best for you with a personal injury lawyer is a good idea. They can help you understand your next steps and how much your case could be worth.
You do not have to handle this process alone, especially if you have serious injuries. Working with an attorney may allow you to focus on healing while they handle your claim.
Determining How Much Your Case Is Worth
One essential step in getting a fair payout for your insurance claim or a lawsuit is understanding how much your case is worth. This is why it is advisable to speak with an attorney before signing any agreement with the insurance company. They can protect your right to a fair settlement.
For most people, calculating an accurate value for their crash case may be difficult. They do not have the knowledge and experience to document and add their expenses, estimate their future costs, and assign a price to their intangible losses. Personal injury law firms handle this task daily. They know how to calculate a fair settlement range and negotiate a settlement within it.
You only get one chance to get a fair payout. Once you sign a settlement agreement, your opportunity to negotiate or recover more compensation is over. The insurer will make you agree to this.
What Constitutes a Fair Settlement?
A fair settlement range will include the expenses and losses you experienced because of the crash and your injuries and those you will continue to experience.
Each case differs, but common examples include:
- Medical bills and all related expenses
- Future care and treatment costs
- Lost income from the time you took off work
- Reduces earning ability if you have long-term injuries
- Miscellaneous expenses with receipts
- Pain and suffering
- Other intangible damages
You will need documentation of your damages, another thing your attorney can help you with.
This will depend on the types of damages you suffered, but could include:
- Any relevant receipts
- Medical bills
- Documentation of missed income
- Your relevant medical records
- Medical expert opinion of your prognosis and care needs
Your attorney can make it so you can continue to focus on your treatment and healing while they build a case to support your financial recovery. They have the knowledge, experience, network of experts, and resources necessary to build a strong car accident claim and recover compensation for your case.
Recovering fair compensation and getting justice for their client is the aim of a personal injury lawyer in a car crash case. They fight for the money their clients need and deserve based on the evidence they uncovered. Because they generally work for a percentage of the payout, the more money they recover, the more they make.
Getting an Attorney to Help With Your Car Accident Claim
Your attorney can go to work on your case as soon as you hire them. This could give you representation from the first days after your crash. It also gives a major advantage when gathering evidence and developing support for your claim. Some evidence disappears quickly after a collision, and getting a lawyer early can preserve it.
Evidence often used to support these claims includes:
- The crash report police officers filed
- Eyewitness accounts
- Accident reconstruction
- Crash scene survey
- Video or photographs of the crash
- Your relevant medical records
- Medical expert assessments
- Documentation of damages
If several weeks or months have passed since your crash, you can still discuss your options with an attorney to ensure you understand your rights. Even if you want to handle your claim independently, talk to an attorney before signing the settlement agreement. Insurers use certain tactics to undervalue victims’ claims. Your lawyer may know them and ensure the insurance company does not take advantage of you.
Some examples could include:
- Making an early offer before you know the extent of your injuries and treatment
- Undervaluing your expenses and losses
- Wrongfully denying the claim
- Using your own words against you to downplay your injuries
- Twisting your words in a recorded interview
You must understand that the insurance company is not interested in paying you the money you need to cover your bills. Insurance representatives want to settle a case for as little as possible to save their employer money. Your attorney can protect your rights, handle all contact on your behalf, and fight for your best interests during this process.
What Do I Have to Prove to Recover Compensation?
Working with an attorney also makes it easier to understand what you have to prove to win your case. You are unlikely to recover compensation without evidence proving negligence and liability.
Negligence is the cause of most traffic collisions. It occurs when:
- Another driver has a duty of care.
- They breach that duty.
- This causes a crash.
- You suffer harm, including physical or financial harm.
In a car crash case, traffic laws generally create a duty of care. This is an obligation one driver has to behave a certain way to prevent a collision and injuries to others. For example, drivers have a duty of care to obey traffic signals and stop signs. Breaching this duty means driving through an intersection, greatly increasing the risk of a collision. When a collision occurs, injuries are likely.
In this example, your case would require you to show the driver had a red light, they ran it, this caused the T-bone collision, and you suffered injuries. Evidence could include the police report, video of the incident, eyewitness statements, accident reconstruction, and more.
While no rule requires an attorney to file an insurance claim, having one on your side makes it much easier to recover the money you deserve based on the facts of your case. A personal injury law firm handles cases like yours daily. They know the process, where to find evidence, and how to deal with the insurance company. They can also sue the liable party on your behalf when necessary.
Suing in Support of a Car Crash Case
Crash victims must sometimes sue a negligent driver to ensure they get an appropriate payout.
This action could be necessary because:
- The insurer does not believe their policyholder caused the crash.
- The insurance company will not offer a fair payout.
- There are questions of fact in the case.
- The insurer denies the claim.
- The attorney recommends a lawsuit for another reason.
When this occurs, you must know about your state’s mandated deadline for suing. It is generally one to four years from the collision date. Your attorney can determine the timeline in your case based on this law and other applicable facts of the case.
Filing a lawsuit does not mean your case will go to trial. Many claims settle after you file a lawsuit. However, a jury trial is possible. This occurs when the insurance company refuses a fair settlement, and you cannot agree through mediation or other means.
A trial consists of several steps:
- Your attorney presents your evidence against the defendant, the at-fault driver or other responsible party.
- The defendant presents their side of the case.
- Your lawyer has an opportunity to respond.
- There are closing arguments.
- The judge or jury contemplates the evidence.
- There is a decision.
- You learn about the verdict and how much money you will receive, if any.
If you need to sue in your car crash case, your attorney can manage the process for you. Many personal injury lawyers work based on contingency. In New York, contingency fee arrangements are the standard. This means you should not need to pay anything up front for them to handle your case. The attorney’s fees will be a percentage of your payout. They can explain this payment arrangement in detail during your initial consultation.
Getting an Attorney for a Car Accident Claim
A Long Island personal injury attorney can help you seek money damages for your crash-related injuries. They may know how to document negligence and liability, calculate the estimated value of your settlement, and pursue a recovery for you. No matter how you choose to proceed with your claim, you may want to speak with a lawyer before signing anything. They can help ensure you fight for an appropriate payout and handle your case for you.
Contact an attorney’s office to discuss your case and the options to pursue compensation. They may assess your case for free and explain the strategies and services that could recover the money you need to pay your bills. Reputable personal injury attorneys work based on contingency, so they only charge you a percentage of what they recover for you.