U.S. traffic fatalities reached a 16-year high last year.
If you were involved in a car accident, you may be wondering whether you need to hire an auto accident lawyer. A good lawyer can help you navigate the complex legal system so you can focus on recovering.
Keep reading to learn more about when you definitely need a lawyer after an accident.
1. You Were Seriously Injured
Anytime you are seriously injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, you should consider hiring a lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer will help you evaluate your case and start collecting evidence right away that will help you later on.
We all know that healthcare costs can be high but if end up hospitalized, you’ll likely still have sticker shock. The average cost of a 3-day hospital stay is $30,000.
Even if you have health insurance, your wallet can take a huge hit from out-of-pocket costs and potential expenses that aren’t covered by your plan. It’s never too early to speak with an attorney about your case.
2. Your Injury Requires Extensive Treatment
Similarly, if your injury requires ongoing treatment, medical bills will add up quickly. You’ll also likely miss work due to medical appointments and procedures. When you’re already facing mounting medical expenses, you can’t afford to miss out on wages.
With long-term injuries, proper documentation is critical to winning your case. You’ll also want to wait until you’re done with treatment and know the full extent of your injury to settle your case.
Insurance companies will push you to settle as soon as possible, but you don’t want to do that. When you’re done treating your injury, your doctor will be able to evaluate whether you have reached maximum medical improvement and whether more treatment is necessary, or whether you may be facing a permanent disability.
3. You Are Permanently Disabled
Cases involving permanent disability are particularly complicated. This is because of the amount of documentation necessary to prove your disability. Experienced auto accident lawyers know what needs to be proven to win your case.
Insurance companies may require you to attend a medical evaluation conducted by a physician of their choosing. They will also retain experts that exist only to try to discredit you.
When you have permanent injuries, you have to prove not just that the other party caused the accident, but that the accident caused your injury and that it is permanent. You also have to prove your damages resulting from the injury. Loss of use and inability to work can be difficult to prove and pretty much impossible to prove without a lawyer.
4. Insurance Isn’t Paying Enough
If you want to get the most out of your claim, you never want to deal with someone else’s insurance company on your own.
Insurance adjusters use tactics to try to trip up victims. What may seem like an innocent conversation could actually be the insurance adjuster trying to get you to say the wrong thing or accept an unfair settlement offer. Insurance companies have a habit of rushing claims to pay as little as possible.
Remember that the insurance company for the other driver represents them, not you. The best way to show insurance companies that you refuse to accept less than you deserve is to hire an auto accident lawyer.
The lawyer you choose should have experience handling similar cases and be ready and willing to take your case to trial. While many cases settle outside of court, you need an attorney with trial experience who is willing to take your case all the way if necessary to get you the compensation you deserve.
5. Your Accident Was Caused by a Mechanical Failure
While it’s rare, some auto accidents are the result of mechanical failures or manufacturing defects.
You can always check here whether your vehicle has been involved in any recalls.
If this happens, filing a claim with a manufacturer, repair shop, dealership, or other vehicle-related business can be difficult to do on your own. An auto accident lawyer can help you navigate this process and recover your damages.
6. The At-Fault Party is a Business
If you were involved in an accident with a truck or company-owned vehicle, you need a lawyer. Going up against a business is a losing battle without a skilled auto accident lawyer representing you.
Corporations will bring in big gun lawyers as soon as they find out about the accident. They will try to minimize what happened and sweep the accident under the rug.
Things can also get messy when a business is involved because the driver may have multiple insurance policies.
7. Liability is Unclear
In an ideal world, it would be crystal clear who caused the accident and they would pay what they owe for the damage that they caused. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
Liability can become less clear when there are other factors involved like poor weather conditions or when more than one party contributed to the accident. Even if you were partially at fault for what happened, you can still recover a portion of your damages.
Many times, victims who had no fault in the accident are assigned blame by the insurance company just to reduce their payout. Insurance companies are in the business of paying as little as possible on claims and will do whatever they can to save money. This includes devaluating or flat-out denying claims.
Insurance adjusters know how to find the smallest discrepencies in records and blow them out of proportion. What could be an innocent mistake due to human error or even just a typo may be used against you. Errors on official documents like medical records and police reports do happen and can be difficult to get corrected.
That’s why you need an attorney who knows what to look out for. Your auto accident lawyer will stay one step ahead of the game insurance adjusters love to play. Auto accident lawyers know how to conduct a thorough investigation and build a case to prove what happened.
8. There Are Multiple Parties Involved
The more parties that are involved in an auto accident, the more complicated things can get. If you were in an accident where there were multiple parties involved, you should consider hiring an auto accident lawyer.
More people means more insurance companies, more documentation, and more moving parts to keep track of. A skilled auto accident attorney will have a team of experienced legal professionals who will keep track of each relevant claim.
Multiple parties also complicated liability determinations. Insurance companies may assign percentages of liability to multiple parties, making things confusing and making it harder to recover the compensation you are owed.
If you find yourself in a situation where multiple parties are involved, especially if there are multiple injured parties, you should talk to an attorney as soon as possible.
9. The Accident Was Caused by Government Negligence
If you’ve been in a car accident, you should always consider the cause of the accident. Sometimes the cause is clear and the other driver was at fault because they were distracted, inebriated, or reckless. But sometimes, the cause of the accident can actually be a combination of factors.
Weather is the most common contributing factor to auto accidents but some factors are more preventable. Examples of road maintenance issues that can lead to car accidents include:
- Poor or inadequate signage
- Debris on the road
- Poorly designed roads
- Missing guardrails
Taking legal action against a government entity is particularly complicated. If you were involved in an accident that was caused by one of these factors, you need an auto accident attorney.
Filing a claim against the government is different than typical claims. Your attorney will ensure you meet all necessary deadlines and filing requirements to protect your right to pursue compensation.
10. You are Experiencing Emotional Distress
Did you know that you can be compensated for the emotional impact of an auto accident?
When most people think of damages from an auto wreck, they think of economic damages like lost wages or medical expenses. But victims of car accidents can also recover damages that are considered non-economic. These include pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of companionship, loss of consortium, and more.
These damages are more difficult to quantify and prove, so you need an auto accident lawyer on your side.
If you’ve been in a car accident, it’s important to be on the lookout for signs of mental health issues. Even if you weren’t the driver or weren’t physically injured, you could experience mental health issues like anxiety, sleep problems, depression, and phobias related to cars.
These problems can be long-lasting and affect both adults and children. Hiring a lawyer who has experience with these types of cases can help you get the treatment you need and the compensation you deserve.
Do You Need an Auto Accident Lawyer?
If you recognize any of the situations on this list, you need an auto accident lawyer.
If you’ve been in an accident and aren’t sure about hiring a lawyer, we want to talk to you. There’s no harm in scheduling a free consultation with one of our attorneys.
There’s no obligation and no cost to you.
Click here to schedule your free meeting today to learn more about whether you might have a case.