Do I Need a Lawyer if the Car Accident was Minor?
Many may ask themselves if a lawyer is necessary after any type of collision. When injuries and damages are minor, individuals may avoid seeking a legal representative. Some believe there is no reason for hiring a lawyer, and others may not know they are entitled to a lawyer after accidents. However, it is important to contact a professional when any type of accident ensues.
Most accidents are random and sudden. They may be an unexpected situation that requires time, money and energy to deal with. The health of an individual along with his or her safety is a great concern. Having a lawyer can help ensure that a victim receives compensation for the damages that he or she has suffered. It is important to obtain a lawyer to ensure all processes are accomplished correctly and in a timely manner.
Common Circumstances to Obtain a Lawyer
When liability is unclear or there is a dispute about who is responsible, legal representation should be considered. Organizing evidence may assist in clearing any dispute about liability and discover what chain of events led to the injury. If the damage is mostly to the vehicle, an examination may be required by an inspector. Additionally, if an individual has been served with documentation that they are involved in the lawsuit, it is best to contact a lawyer immediately in order to protect one’s legal rights and avoid forfeiting rights.
When an insurance settlement has been initiated, a lawyer’s counsel may be highly beneficial. These settlements should be reviewed by the lawyer. Because adjusters tend to offer lower numbers than expected for repairs to property as well as long-term injuries that require extensive medical treatment, a legal representative may review these terms to determine if they are acceptable. If the payment cannot cover all treatment and medical procedures, a renegotiation is usually necessary. For determining whether a total amount in a lump sum or payments are needed, the legal representative may analyze all healthcare processes with a healthcare professional.
Many insurance claims are denied. Technicalities may be the root cause companies deny these claims. Though they may be minor or inconsequential, these technicalities cause more pain and suffering due to stress. Lawyers obtained for these reasons assist in contesting denials so entitled compensation is received for those that have been injured. Even when injury is minor, some medical procedures are expensive, requiring compensation from insurance to assist in patient recovery.
Even minor injuries may lead to further consequences for the victim. The victim may not be able to return to the same line or work and may have to give up a favorite recreational activity. His or her relationship with other members of the victim’s family. These factors can be considered when a settlement is in question.
Minor injuries may also lead to complications or further damage not noticed until later. These injuries could lead to losing income at a job or career. These wages are factored into settlements, but a lawyer may assist in obtaining all needed payment.
Statute of Limitations
Though each state is different, the statute of limitations applies for personal injury claims and liability with traffic accidents. Some states have longer timeframes, while some have shorter timeframes such as the two year limitation in Illinois. No matter how minor the accident, it is important to know the rights a person has. A lawyer can explain the relevant statute of limitations as well as factors that may cut the time limit down such as when a governmental entity is involved.
Hiring a Lawyer
When involved in a traffic accident no matter how minor injuries sustained may be, the individual should seek legal representation from a lawyer who is knowledgeable about personal injury and liability. The lawyer retained should have a working knowledge on motor vehicle claims and on different medical procedures that may be implicated. The case history and reputation of the legal representative is important. Efficiency and professionalism may be the foundation to build a relationship between both client and hired lawyer.
How to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you were involved in any of the scenarios discussed above, you should contact a personal injury lawyer. Hiring a personal injury lawyer is an important decision. Your lawyer will represent your interests in settlement negotiations with the at-fault party’s insurance company, and will do so in court should you and your lawyer agree that filing a personal injury lawsuit is necessary.
How Long After a Car Accident Can I Make A Claim?
You must notify your own insurance company within seven days, or as soon as reasonably possible, that you wish to apply for no-fault accident benefits. You must file a completed Application for Accident Benefits with your insurance company within 30 days after receiving it. You have two years in Ontario within which to bring a lawsuit against the at-fault party for a personal injury claim. It is best to contact a lawyer early to ensure that proper steps are taken, notices are given, and deadlines are not missed. You do not have to retain a lawyer right away, but it can help you learn about your legal rights.
When Do I Need an Attorney for a Car Accident Claim?
If you’re involved in a fender bender, where no one is injured, your car accident claim can usually be handled through the insurance company without much fuss. Anything more serious than that, though, needs car accident claimmore consideration.
Here are some factors to consider when deciding whether you need an attorney for a car accident claim.
How serious are your injuries? How long did it take you (or will it take you) to recover?
First, it’s important to remember that every case is unique, and so are the ways people define a “significant” loss or “high” costs. What is a devastating loss to one person may not be to another.
To give a general idea, if you had (or have) a serious injury that:
- Affected you for a long time
- Caused you to be hospitalized
- Caused you to miss work or school
- Resulted in a lost income
- Resulted in extensive medical bills
- May be long-term (lasting about a year or more) or permanently disabling
… you may have a significant claim and should at least consult with an attorney. Even if you ultimately decide not to hire, a consultation can help you understand your options.
The more you have at stake, the better it is to have an attorney’s help. Insurance companies have attorneys of their own, with the goal of reducing settlement amounts or denying claims. The higher the amount of the claim, the harder the insurance companies and their attorneys fight.
For claims involving long-term or permanently disabling injuries, you really need an attorney. Such injuries can affect not only your quality of life, but your livelihood and ability to work. You may incur future medical expenses related to your injury and complications may develop. Proving these types of injuries is complex and challenging, and should be handled by an experienced personal injury attorney.
Is fault contested in your accident? Is the other driver’s insurance company disputing liability and refusing to pay?
If the other driver caused your accident but they and/or their insurance company won’t admit it, there’s immediate cause for concern.
When an insurance company disputes their policyholder’s liability, they are essentially saying that their policyholder is not at fault and they are not responsible for paying your damages.
This happens because it may not be clear who was at fault. A police report may inaccurately describe the accident. There may be discrepancies among witnesses. Or, the insurance company may simply believe that you don’t have enough evidence that their policyholder was at fault.
When fault is contested, you must prove that the other driver caused the accident or you will lose the claim. An accident attorney can help you provide evidence and prove the other driver was at fault.
Are you concerned the settlement offer you received from the insurance company is too low?
It’s no secret that early settlement offers from insurance companies can be low. Many people accept them, even if they have misgivings, just to move on. No one likes the hassle of dealing with insurance claims. However, it’s often worth taking a deeper look, especially if you might have a large claim.
An attorney can review your settlement offer to determine if it is fair. If it is not, they can negotiate with the insurance company in an effort to raise the settlement amount. In the event an acceptable agreement can’t be reached or the insurance company refuses to negotiate, an attorney can file a lawsuit on your behalf.
What to Do After You Think You Caused a Car Crash
If you think (or know) that you just caused a car accident, you should always stay calm. There are steps you should do after a crash whether or not you were at fault, and you should stay focused to ensure you do—and don’t do—certain things.
First, never under any circumstances should you leave the scene of the accident. Every state has specific laws about stopping after a crash and remaining at the scene. If a driver knows they broke the law or may be subject to other citations or criminal charges, they may be tempted to drive away to avoid the consequences of their actions. However, if you leave the scene of the crash, you could face an arrest and serious criminal charges, in addition to your responsibility for the accident. It is ALWAYS better to stop in accordance with the law.
In some states, you may also need to render aid to anyone who needs it or call for help. You should at least exchange your contact and insurance information with the other driver or drivers involved. If there is a certain amount of property damage or if someone suffered injuries in the accident, you likely have to report it to the authorities. It’s a good idea to call 911 or the police directly so someone can respond to the scene of the accident.
While you wait for the police, keep to yourself as much as possible. In some situations, the other driver may try to confront you or may show anger for the crash. Do your best to stay grounded and don’t admit fault or apologize. It can be all too easy to start saying that you’re sorry for being distracted or not noticing the other car. This is a mistake, as you should never admit any negligent acts to the other driver. Even if you’re feeling nervous, you should avoid the following:
- Discussing what you were doing prior to the crash
- Talking about who you think was to blame
- Apologizing or making any statements that may indicate you were at fault
- Asking the other driver questions to try to determine whether they made a mistake as well
You should stay polite but keep communications to a minimum and simply determine whether anyone is hurt and provide the basic information the driver needs from you. Then wait calmly until medical personnel and the police arrive. Even if the other driver is acting aggressive, you should never be aggressive or defensive in return.