Being involved in a car accident can cause a wide range of emotions. Some feel panic and fear to anger and worry.
If you’ve been in a car accident and you’re not sure whether to contact a personal injury lawyer or your car insurance company first, read on.
What to do First
As soon as a car accident occurs, it’s important to make sure that yourself and other passengers are OK. Once you’ve assessed the current situation, you should call 911. Let the dispatcher know your location and what happened.
Once help arrives, they will ask you for any pertinent information. This will include your account of the incident and if there are any injuries. Remember that even if you feel fine right after an accident, you could end up dealing with serious injuries that come to the surface later.
If there are any witnesses, it’s absolutely imperative that you make sure you get their statements. In addition, witness statements can be extremely helpful to you if the accident case goes to trial.
Make sure you record everything including the information from the other driver like their insurance company, policy number, and contact information. Most police reports will record all of this for you, but double check it if you have the presence of mind.
Dealing with the Aftermath
Depending on the severity of the accident, you might need the help of a tow truck to move your vehicle. If you end up leaving the scene in an ambulance, they’ll likely transport you to the nearest emergency room.
Once you arrive at the hospital, doctors will make an assessment of your injuries. They will either release you or recommend that you stay for further evaluation. Remember to keep all paperwork associated with the accident including medical records, tow truck bills, and witness reports.
After you are back home and recovering, it’s time to consider what to do next: do you contact a personal injury lawyer first or give your insurance company a call? It might seem natural to call your insurance company. However, if the accident is serious and you were injured then it’s likely time to consult an attorney.
When to Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
Not all accidents require the help of an attorney. However, if you’ve been injured, any of your passengers have been injured, or the other driver was under the influence, a lawyer is recommended.
You should find a reliable law firm that is familiar with the laws in your jurisdiction. Rely on family or friends to make any references or recommendations first. If you don’t know anyone who can recommend one to you, do your homework to find a law office with a good reputation.
When you call the lawyer, give them as many details about the accident as possible. They will be able to determine whether or not they think you have a case, and they can make recommendations on the next steps.
Why You Should Call a Lawyer First
After an accident, most peoples’ inclination is to contact their insurance company to begin the claims process. But in cases where the driver is at fault and you’ve been hurt, you should contact a personal injury lawyer first.
An insurance company’s first inclination is to settle with you at the lowest amount possible. Typically, this involves basics like getting your car repaired back to its working order and providing you with a rental car.
If you have a serious case where a lawsuit is possible, a lawyer will work on your behalf to ensure that you get the most money you can from the insurance company. Some of the compensation you may receive includes:
- Payment for a new vehicle (when needed)
- Money for all medical bills including any surgeries and prescription medications
- The cost of the ambulance ride and tow truck
- Repayment for missed time at work
- Pain and suffering
When to Call A Lawyer
Initially, you’ll feel the imminent shock and worry that comes with being involved in a car accident. Once things have calmed down a bit, you’ll need to contact a local attorney as soon as possible.
If the accident was a simple fender bender, there won’t be much a lawyer can do for you. On the other hand, serious accidents often require the help of an experienced attorney who can fight for you in court and battle the insurance company on your behalf.
A lawyer understands the many nuances involved with insurance companies, and they are able to cut through the red tape. If you try to handle things yourself, the insurance company will probably try to convince you to settle for much less than you deserve.
Find out if any lawyers in your area offer free consultations so you can discuss your circumstances face-to-face. Keep in mind that in most states, there is a statute of limitations for accident-related injuries. This is why it’s imperative that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
Fight for Your Rights
Coping with the aftermath of an accident can be a long and arduous process. That’s why it’s so important to understand when a lawyer is needed and how they can help you.
If you’ve been in an accident, contact a personal injury lawyer before you call the insurance company if you plan to escalate the issue. Lawyers can give you advice and help you navigate the often complex process that’s involved in accident and injury-related court cases.
For more information about car accidents, personal injury law, and all things legal, please visit our website. Call us today for a free case consultation at (800) 674-7854.