Studies show that the average adult driver will get in at least 3 car accidents in their lifetime. That means when you get behind the wheel, you should be prepared for the unexpected.
If you do find yourself on the wrong end of the steering wheel, a car accident lawyer can help.
After the dust settles and the brake lights dim, there are several important steps you should take. Each one will help determine if you need a car accident attorney.
Knowing what to do after a car accident can also put you in the best position for recovery — both physically and financially.
Here we’ll explore what those steps are and how to decide if hiring a car accident lawyer is in your best interest.
1. Determine Who’s At Fault
This isn’t always easy, but it’s important to determine who’s at fault for the accident as soon as possible. In some cases, it’s pretty obvious.
Did you run a red light or stop sign? If you broke a traffic law that caused the accident, you’re probably at fault. If you were rear-ended or someone backed into you, chances are, they’re at fault.
Car insurance companies play a big role in deciding who’s at fault for the accident and what happens next. If the accident was your fault, you don’t need to hire a car accident attorney because your insurance company may appoint an attorney for you.
Don’t expect to receive compensation for any injuries you incurred if the accident was caused by your negligence.
If the accident wasn’t your fault and you or your car were seriously damaged, you need an experienced attorney to defend your case.
Your car accident lawyer will determine your level of compensation and help you get the settlement you deserve.
2. Act Fast
Just as quickly as the accident happened, you need to hire a car accident attorney. Although it may be the last thing on your mind, there are important deadlines you must meet.
An experienced lawyer knows what paperwork to file and when. The last thing you want is to miss an important deadline that compromises your case.
The most important deadline to meet is the State of Limitations which varies by state. This limit determines how long you have to file your claim.
The statute for auto accidents ranges from 2-4 years. While this might sound like a long time, filing paperwork and cutting through legal red tape can take a while.
Other important deadlines include contacting the appropriate insurance companies. Most require you to notify them “as soon as practical” or “promptly”.
This vague language makes it easy for insurance companies to deny your claim, which is another reason you need an experienced attorney to defend you.
3. Collecting Evidence
While a car accident isn’t a crime scene, collecting evidence to support your case is still an important step — and one you might need help with.
Help yourself and your future attorney by taking photographs of the accident scene. If possible, don’t move the vehicles.
Photograph the street or intersection and any road signs. Ask nearby witnesses for their names and information. Collect as much information as possible with as much detail.
It’s important to only take these steps if it’s safe. Don’t put yourself in harm’s way to collect evidence on the scene.
This is where a car accident lawyer can help. They can collect evidence when you’re unable to do so.
Some evidence is also time-sensitive. Things like surveillance video, skid marks on the road, and vehicle damage can all help prove your case.
Witness testimony is also time-sensitive. Some witnesses are eager and willing to help directly following the accident, but as time goes on not only does their memory fade but also their willingness to come forward.
An accident attorney can contact witnesses immediately and ask all the right questions. Experienced attornies know what evidence to look for and how to collect it without contamination.
4. Medical Treatment and Compensation
According to the CDC, 3 million people are injured in car accidents every year. If you were injured in your accident, not only do you need an attorney but you likely need medical attention.
An alarming 27.5 million Americans don’t have health insurance. What many people don’t know is that a car accident lawyer can actually help you find medical treatment following an auto accident.
Your attorney can’t give you medical advice or even recommend a specific doctor but they can point you in the right direction.
It’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. The more proof and documentation you have, the stronger your case will be.
There are other auto accident injuries that require special attention including:
- Injuries that cause long-term or permanent damage
- Injuries that result in death
- Injuries to multiple passengers
Personal injury attorneys are also well-versed in filing medical claims. They know a reasonable amount to ask for based on your injuries and how to get it.
5. Inaccuracies in the Case
Are there inaccuracies in your car accident case? Are there inconsistencies in the police report or is the negligent driver claiming no-fault?
Mistakes happen. After all, an accident is what got you here in the first place.
If you know that something’s not right but can’t put your finger on exactly what it is, an accident attorney has the resources to uncover the truth.
Let an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Fight for What’s Right
When tragedy strikes, you may have trouble thinking straight. Whether you or a loved one were recently injured in a car accident, swift action and experience play a crucial role in getting the compensation you deserve.
The moments following a car accident are some of the most important. Collecting time-sensitive evidence and determining who’s at fault can make or break your case.
Let an experienced car accident lawyer at Sweet Law handle this for you so you can focus on healing.
Contact us today to learn more about the services we offer.