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When to Get an Attorney for a Car Accident

Auto accident commercials and billboards often encourage anyone injured in a car crash to immediately contact a local car accident attorney. For some injured claimants, doing so might protect them from common insurance traps and preserve evidence needed for viable car accident claims. However, other car accident victims wonder whether they need an attorney or whether seeking legal help will only add more stress to their situation, as they have another person to communicate with regularly.

Following an accident, you could always schedule a free, no-risk consultation with a local car accident attorney to discuss whether you could benefit from retaining counsel after a crash. Most motor vehicle accident attorneys do not charge any consultation fees, so you have nothing to lose by having a conversation about a possible case.

Plaintiff’s lawyers typically take viable car crash cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning they agree to represent you in exchange for a percentage of the eventual settlement. Whether you wish to speak with an attorney or explore your options privately, consider these eight circumstances in which injured claimants often benefit from retaining car accident counsel.

Suffering Catastrophic and Disabling Injuries

No matter the type of car accident you experienced, consider contacting a car accident attorney if medical evidence indicates you sustained permanent or significant injuries. Different states define catastrophic injuries differently, but most agree that they include disabling conditions, injuries necessitating surgery, injuries impacting the brain and spine, and ailments requiring extensive rehabilitation.

Examples of these serious injuries include:

  • Burns Car fires caused by negligent drivers often leave victims with severe full-thickness burns and associated disfigurement. Serious burns often require multiple surgeries, resulting in permanent disfigurement, and necessitating extensive pain management.
  • Traumatic brain injuries – Motor vehicle accidents account for many brain injuries sustained in the United States. As the body’s most complex organ, trauma to the brain could cause personality changes, difficulties in communication, developmental delays, and even a coma.
  • Herniated discs – The sudden force of a car crash can displace the spinal cord. An accident may result in the herniation of multiple discs, necessitating spinal fusion surgery, causing extreme nerve pain, and impacting a claimant’s ability to walk, sit, drive, lift, or sleep.
  • Amputations – Head-on collisions may result in crushed front-ends, pinning drivers inside their vehicles. Without immediate emergency intervention, this could result in substantial bodily damage that necessitates amputations.
  • Fractures Breaking a bone often requires substantial force while resetting that bone could require surgery or even multiple surgeries. Anyone who sustained a broken hip, leg, arm, shoulder, nose, or ankle in a crash should immediately discuss his or her options with legal counsel.
  • Paralysis – High-speed motor vehicle collisions and accidents involving pedestrians may completely sever a victim’s spinal cord. Such an injury typically results in irreversible paralysis below the area of damage, eliminating movement and sensation.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) – Even when claimants walk away from serious accidents with minor physical injuries, they might still suffer from nightmares and debilitating anxiety. PTSD often manifests after terrifying collisions, especially if the victim witnessed loved ones sustaining injuries in the crash. Do not discount the seriousness of mental trauma after a motor vehicle collision. You can recover damages for pain and mental anguish during car accident litigation.

If you suffer from a catastrophic injury or expect future surgeries and rehabilitation, consider speaking with a local car crash attorney about your recovery compensation for medical costs. These claims often require filing car accident litigation against a negligent driver and retaining expert economic and medical witnesses to calculate your past and future losses.

Navigating Insurance Hurdles and Appealing Arbitrary Denials

Even the friendliest insurance adjusters have a job—to protect their employer’s financial interests. Auto insurance companies run for-profit businesses based on complex risk-benefit analyses. As such, insurers may attempt to reduce their liability by shifting blame onto non-negligent drivers, claiming the injured victim had pre-existing injuries, or denying coverage due to paperwork mistakes.

Most car accident attorneys settle viable car accident cases with liable insurance companies, but this frequently includes helping clients maximize their insurance benefits, appealing arbitrary denials of coverage, and challenging inaccurate fault determinations.

Only qualified car crash lawyers may provide legal advice regarding driver negligence and your injury rights. If you receive a denial of coverage letter, lowball settlement offer, or pushback from insurers, consider contacting a private car accident attorney about your concerns.

Reviewing Proposed Settlement Offers

If an auto insurance company cannot reasonably deny liability, it may mitigate its financial losses by offering quick car accident settlements before the injured claimant retains legal counsel. Some insurers mislead claimants into believing they are signing a document to receive payments to help with immediate medical expenses when, in actuality, they are waiving the car accident claims for a nominal amount.

Many claimants do not understand their rights when they agree to waive their claims, and they cannot generally revive claims after signing for a settlement.

Insurers might also convince you to accept a settlement before you understand your medical prognosis. Many persons injured by negligent drivers try physical therapy for a few months before doctors recommend undergoing surgery. If an insurance company offers you any compensation, whether via direct deposit or a check, do not agree to accept the settlement before speaking with a local car crash lawyer.

The quick offer usually means insurers know they’re liable for your injuries. Many attorneys can review the proposal and, if necessary, negotiate a better settlement or advise you not to waive your legal rights.

Harassing Conduct

Many individuals involved in a motor vehicle crash due to another driver’s negligence can be very understanding immediately after the accident takes place. Maybe the other driver had a bad day at work or simply turned their head away from the road at the wrong time. You might decide to work out a private settlement, rather than to proceed with an insurance claim. As such, involved parties commonly exchange contact information and discuss the damage when they return home. Unfortunately, experienced attorneys can tell you that this process may result in harassment, abuse, and fraudulent claims about the accident.

Typical car accident injuries such as whiplash, spinal damage, PTSD, and shoulder fractures may not become apparent until days after the initial collision. Liable drivers might start harassing injured claimants for reporting a potential injury they didn’t seemingly have at the scene. Some liable drivers also send fraudulent messages to injured claimants, trying to create a case for liability against them.

Car accident attorneys recommend seeking the legal protections afforded by retaining private car accident counsel in such cases. Once you report hiring a lawyer, liable parties and their representatives may not contact you without your attorney’s consent. Your representation might stop harassment immediately, including collections related to the crash. This legal protection could help you focus on your recovery while your legal counsel focuses on your claims.

Reckless Driving and Intentional Conduct

The majority of car accident litigation in the United States involves general carelessness. Maybe a driver was talking on the phone, distracted by something at the side of the road, or simply inexperienced. Some crashes involve extreme negligence, recklessness, or even intentional conduct.

Examples include:

  • Drunk driving accidents
  • Substantial speed limit violations
  • Multiple vehicle and traffic violations, such as speeding and weaving between lanes
  • Illegal racing
  • Driving on the wrong side of the road
  • Terrorist conduct, such as intentionally plowing into pedestrians or another vehicle
  • Operating dangerous or unauthorized vehicles, such as those not street-legal
  • Falling asleep at the wheel
  • Road rage

If another driver’s grossly negligent or reckless conduct left you injured, special car accident laws might apply to your case. Most states permit injured claimants to demand punitive damages from an extremely irresponsible motor vehicle owner or operator. Insurance companies do not generally pay punitive claims, as they exist to punish the reckless driver directly. You might also have additional car accident claims if you believe someone intentionally hit you or did not consider the apparent danger their behavior posed to human life or health. Punitive damage awards often are available regardless of the seriousness of your injuries.

Liability Disputes

In some disputes, insurers simply cannot decide whom to blame for an accident and so arbitrarily split liability between both drivers. Closing claims this way might result in reduced payouts and increased insurance premiums for non-negligent drivers. You generally have the right to request the other party’s insurance statement and evidence in such cases. If it appears they told mistruths about the crash, you should consider retaining dedicated car accident counsel.

Local car accident lawyers frequently use their experience to gather essential evidence proving the other’s driver was at-fault, including:

  • Dashcam and surveillance videos
  • Certified witness statements
  • Photographs
  • Expert damage reports and treed-mark analysis
  • Medical records indicating the impact angle
  • Blood alcohol test results
  • Police reports

An attorney might help you appeal fault determinations to an insurance supervisor or simply ask a jury to decide liability. Insurance decisions do not bind local judges, as adjusters often negotiate liability payments based on limited evidence and economic considerations.

Chain-Reaction Crashes and Potential Public Liability

Anytime a car accident involves more than two vehicles or unique circumstances, such as potholes, negligent road design, malfunctioning brakes, or wild animals, consider seeking help from a lawyer. Chain-reaction crashes and pile-ups often involve complex liability determinations and police investigations. This process usually delays the claims process for innocent victims injured in multi-vehicle collisions.

Additionally, cases involving potential public liability often necessitate filing a claim with local administrative agencies. Failure to do so within the deadline, sometimes only ten days, could waive any claims against state highway authorities.

If any of the following caused or contributed to a car accident, you should speak with local car accident counsel:

  • Potholes, road debris, or pavement defects
  • Negligent management of construction zones, including lack of flaggers and other safety measures
  • Poor roadway design
  • Lack of warning signs about sharp turns or other dangers
  • Malfunctioning traffic control devices, including railroad crossings

Even if another driver hit a pothole and then hit you, the roadway defect might have substantially contributed to your accident. Do not waive your potential right to compensation from a liable state authority by neglecting to speak with a local car accident attorney.

Accidents Involving Police Officers, Ambulances, and Emergency Response Vehicles

Nearly every state has specific rules related to emergency vehicles. In most cases, these vehicles must use lights and sirens to invoke their right of way. Failure to do so often results in driver confusion and motor vehicle collisions. Reckless driving, even in response to an emergency, might also cause compensable injuries. Because most of these vehicles are owned and operated by public authorities, unique claims rules may apply to these collisions. Consider speaking with an attorney immediately if an emergency vehicle caused or contributed to a car crash.

Benefits of Retaining a Car Accident Lawyer After a Motor Vehicle Accident

From finding doctors who accept personal injury insurance to helping you apply for disability benefits, car accident lawyers often do more than simply file litigation.

Consider the following benefits frequently offered by experienced car accident firms:

  • Protecting clients from creditors and harassing insurance calls
  • Negotiating higher insurance settlements
  • Filing necessary car accident litigation
  • Submitting claims to a public administrative agency
  • Investigating the crash and gathering relevant evidence
  • Retaining expert witnesses to analyze your case
  • Appealing insurance denials

Because plaintiff’s attorneys do not typically charge hourly fees, most injured claimants may take advantage of these benefits without any out-of-pocket costs. Many states allow firms to front all essential costs, including medical record requests, expert witnesses fees, and litigation expenses. A car accident attorney might simply recover these expenses with a settlement or verdict.

If car accident lawyers cannot recover compensation for their clients, they cannot generally collect any legal fees. You only have something to gain from consulting with a local car accident lawyer if you sustained injuries in a car crash due to driver negligence.

Award Winning Power and Experience