Is it Worth Getting a Lawyer for a Car Accident?
In almost all serious car accidents with extensive material damage and serious injuries, it can be worth consulting with or hiring a lawyer. This does not necessarily mean that your case has to go to court.
A car accident lawyer can help with many aspects of your claim and potentially protect you from any costs that should not be your responsibility if someone else’s carelessness or recklessness caused your accident.
What Should I Do First?
The first thing you should do if you've been in a car accident is call the police, whether the crash was a fender bender or a major accident. If it wasn’t your fault, having an official police report will help you hold the other driver accountable for damages and repair costs.
Don’t try to work out a deal with the other driver on your own, even if he or she doesn’t want to involve the police or insurance companies. When you call the police, tell the responding officer the truth about what happened, and let the officer decide who is at fault in the official report. The at-fault driver will likely receive a citation.
Filing a police report will also help you handle an insurance claim. Your insurer will want a copy of the report, and having one will speed up the claims process.
What Information Do I Need to Know About the Accident?
You’ll need to collect the following pieces of information at the scene of the accident to help you as you move through the insurance claim process:
- The other driver’s name and contact information
- The names and contact information of passengers in the other driver’s car
- The other driver’s car insurer and policy information
- The make, model, and color of the other driver’s car
- The names and contact information of witnesses to the accident
- The responding police officer’s name, contact information, and badge number
It is important that you only speak to the other driver about the information above that you’re trying to obtain. Don’t discuss the accident or who is at fault — leave those discussions for the police and your insurer.
While you’re waiting for the police, collect as much information as you can about the accident. Draw a map to show the direction each car was traveling and the location of the crash.
List the weather conditions at the time and any other circumstances surrounding the collision. Take pictures of both cars to document damages.
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Which Insurance Company Do I Call?
If you’ve been in car accidents that weren't your fault, you may be wondering whose insurance companies you need to call to seek compensation.
The safest bet is always to call your own car insurance company after an accident. They can tell you what kind of coverage you have for personal injury, collisions, damages, and medical expenses.
You may also have uninsured motorist coverage you can use if the other driver doesn’t have insurance. Depending on the services you need, your insurance company will pay for your repairs and medical bills, then work with the at-fault driver’s insurance to collect compensation.
This is a stress-free solution for you because everything is billed directly to your insurance company and you won’t need to communicate with the other driver’s insurance company at all.
In some cases, you’re required to call your own insurance company after an accident to receive payment for help with injuries. Florida is one of 12 no-fault states, which means you must use your personal injury protection coverage to pay for injuries. If your injuries are more severe than what your insurance covers, you can sue the at-fault driver directly.
If you weren’t at fault in the car accident , you also have the choice to file a claim with the other driver’s insurance company, which is called a third-party claim. In a third-party claim, the other insurance company will pay for your car repairs once it determines the driver was at at-fault. The other company will also pay for medical expenses unless you live in a no-fault state.
Should I Seek Medical Attention?
You should always seek medical care after an accident, even if you don’t have any pain or feel like you're injured. When you’re involved in a crash, your body releases a jolt of adrenaline that can mask pain and other symptoms immediately after a crash.
It may be several hours or even days before pain or other symptoms of an injury appear. Delayed presentation is common for injuries like whiplash, concussions, spinal damage, or soft tissue damage.
It’s also important that you see a doctor and get tested for internal injuries and fractures. Serious internal injuries like bleeding and swelling can be life-threatening if they’re not diagnosed and treated right away.
Don’t call your primary care physician after the accident, because many don’t have the training to identify, diagnose and treat car crash injuries. An incorrect diagnosis of your injuries can delay proper treatment and make your injuries worse down the road.
Instead, call a medical practice that has the training and experience to treat car accident injuries. A specialist will accurately diagnose your injuries and start you on an effective treatment plan.
Also read: Average Whiplash Injury Settlement
What Happens Next?
Once you’ve completed all of the above, the next step is the recovery process.
First, your car may need repairs, which can take several weeks or more if the damage is major. Make sure you keep all documentation throughout the repair process, including the estimate you’re given and any updates you receive. You’ll need this paperwork to ensure you get proper compensation for the accident damages.
Next, your body may need repairs. If you’re injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, collect all medical records related to your care.
Ask for a copy of your medical records, physician notes, and imaging studies. Make sure your treating physician knows that you need detailed notes for your records and for the insurance company to review. Keep paperwork, physician orders, medical bills, and prescription labels from medications, physical therapy, and other treatments you might be prescribed.
Most importantly, make sure you’re taking care of yourself during the recovery process. Car accidents can be traumatic for your physical, mental, emotional, and financial health, and you are your own best advocate for obtaining the help you need. Follow your doctor’s orders, eat well, hydrate, and get plenty of rest after you’ve been in a traumatic car accident.
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Should I Get a Lawyer for a Car Accident That Wasn't My Fault?
If you got into an accident that was not your fault, you have a right to hire a lawyer. You may assume that because you did not cause the accident, everything will work out in your favor, but you may need to prove that you did not commit any wrongdoing.
While you do not need to seek legal counsel, a lawyer may help you file a claim or lawsuit against a negligent party. Getting into an accident due to another party’s negligence typically results in stress, frustration, and injuries.
The law offices of Schmidt & Clark, LLP, do not want you to worry about tackling everything yourself after an avoidable accident; we can handle the legal process for you.
How Can an Experienced Attorney Help?
It can certainly be worth getting a lawyer for an accident that wasn't your fault, especially if the accident was serious and you suffered extensive or permanent injuries.
A lawyer can help to protect you from any present or future damages associated with the accident. In many cases, it can be difficult to know whether any injuries might need costly medical treatments in the future. A lawyer can help assess these potential future costs with you and your medical professionals.
A lawyer can also help you in the following ways when it comes to your claim:
Calculating Your Damages Accurately
A lawyer can help calculate all your costs and damages correctly to ensure that any settlement negotiated will cover all of your financial liabilities arising from the accident.
A car accident lawyer knows how to account for any economic and non-economic damages, which can potentially protect you from having to pay any costs out of your pocket in an accident that was someone else’s fault.
Negotiating with Insurance Companies
Negotiating an adequate settlement with insurance companies can be difficult on your own. The insurance may try to fight to keep any claims low or deny a claim altogether.
Having professional legal representation can help with tough negotiations. Your lawyer will work hard in your best interests to help you receive what is due to you.
Representing You in Court
Although many car accident claims are settled out of court, sometimes the only way to receive adequate compensation is with a personal injury lawsuit.
While it is theoretically possible to represent yourself in court, self-representation can leave you vulnerable. The defendant and their lawyer can potentially take advantage of the fact that you do not have professional legal representation.
Offering Legal Advice
Auto accident lawyers understand the laws in the states they practice in and can advise you on any important legal issues about your case, including the applicable statutes of limitation for filing a case in your state. This is of the utmost importance so you do not miss a filing deadline that could bar you from receiving compensation.
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A Lawyer Can Help You Receive Compensation
Another reason it is worth getting a lawyer for a claim is that a lawyer knows how to accurately calculate compensation and the future costs you are likely to have with any accident.
Depending on your claim, you could receive compensation for the following damages:
- Medical costs and future medical costs
- Costs for physical therapy
- Costs for medical accessories and mobility devices
- Lost wages and future lost earning capacity
- A household help
- Awards for pain and suffering (emotional and physical)
- Awards for loss of life enjoyment
Get a Free Car Accident Lawsuit Evaluation With Our Lawyers
The Personal Injury Litigation Group at Schmidt & Clark, LLP law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in auto accident lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new injury and death cases in all 50 states.
If you were in a car accident that wasn't your fault, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.