If you’re involved in an auto accident, while you should report it to your insurer and the responsible party’s insurer, it is wise not to provide too much information until you have discussed the case with an attorney. Initially, providing basic information such as date, time, location and some very basic facts about the case is appropriate. However you should avoid giving any recorded statements or discussing any specifics about your injuries until you have spoken with a car accident attorney–which you should do immediately.
How an Attorney Can Protect You After an Accident
After a motor vehicle accident, it is important to protect your rights from the very beginning. Threats may include:
- An at-fault motorist: The party or parties who caused your accident may know that they are responsible. They may not be willing to take responsibility, though. These parties might try to blame the accident on you. Even if you say something as seemingly innocent as “I’m sorry,” liable parties and their insurance carriers may use those words against you.
- Insurance companies: Insurance companies for the negligent drivers don’t represent you. They only want to protect themselves and their insured. The insurance company’s goal is to save as much money as possible. This means looking for any opportunity to avoid paying your claim. If an insurance company can use your words or actions against you, it probably will.
- Attorneys for those involved in your accident: Though an at-fault motorist (or another liable party) usually won’t have an attorney immediately, they may retain one shortly after your collision. This attorney may try to contact you, and rest assured that they won’t have your best interests at heart.
Hiring an attorney can protect you from these and other threats to your rights. Your lawyer will provide general advice about when to call your insurance company, what to say, and what not to say.
Your lawyer will also be the contact point for all case-related matters. If an at-fault motorist, another attorney, insurance company, or other party tries to contact you about your accident, you can refer them to your attorney.
Other Services an Attorney Can Provide After an Accident
In addition to providing general advice and protecting you, a lawyer can help with every other step of your insurance claim or lawsuit. The lawyer can provide advice that allows you to decide: Do I pursue an insurance claim or seek compensation through a civil lawsuit?
In either case, a personal injury lawyer will generally:
- Investigate the cause of your accident: Accidents happen for a specific reason or multiple reasons. An attorney will determine what those reasons are. Driver error is the most frequent cause of accidents.
- Gather evidence: A lawyer should collect any useful evidence for your case. Footage of the accident, photographs of the scene, and the police report are three types of evidence an attorney will obtain, if available.
- Interview witnesses: Witness accounts are key to many motor vehicle accident cases. Identifying and interviewing unbiased witnesses can be critical to your case.
- File your lawsuit or claim: The lawyer and their team will handle all paperwork for your case, including drafting and filing the lawsuit or claim.
- Negotiate a settlement: Lawyers will negotiate on your behalf with the other party or the insurance carrier to attempt to resolve the case fairly. This can happen before filing a lawsuit or during the course of litigation.
- Take your lawsuit to trial: If necessary, your attorney should be prepared to take your case to trial. Trials are far less common than settlements in civil cases, including motor vehicle accident cases.
A lawyer should be ready and willing to handle every possible step in your case. You may be required to participate in certain ways. For example, you may have to make a recorded statement to one or more insurance companies. If a lawyer can handle a case-related duty, though, they should.
How Will a Lawyer Determine Whether an Insurance Claim or Lawsuit Is the Right Action for Me?
Most personal injury lawyers have handled many motor vehicle accident cases. They can assess fairly quickly whether you should pursue an insurance claim or lawsuit.
Some factors that your lawyer may consider are:
- Whether the at-fault motorist has insurance coverage
- How much insurance coverage is available to recover
- Whether the responsible party has assets or resources beyond the insurance policy
- Whether you have Uninsured/Underinsured (UM/UIM) insurance coverage
The severity of your injuries will be a key consideration. The more severe your injuries are, the more likely it is that litigation is a viable option if a settlement cannot be reached before filing a lawsuit. There are generally no caps on how much compensation you can pursue through a lawsuit related to a vehicle crash.
Recoverable Damages for Victims of Motor Vehicle Accidents
Motor vehicle accident victims can suffer a variety of different losses, called “damages.”
Recoverable damages may include:
- Property damage: Property damage is usually a given when vehicles collide. In addition to your vehicle, damaged property may include your phone, dash camera, sunglasses, jewelry, clothing, and other valuables.
- Medical expenses: All accident-related medical expenses may qualify as recoverable damages.
- Pain and suffering: Any lost quality of life, emotional anguish, injury pain, and other forms of pain and suffering are recoverable.
- Professional losses: Motor vehicle accidents can result in injury, which can mean a significant amount of time off from work. Recoverable damages may include lost income, lost earning capacity and missed opportunities for bonuses and promotions.
Call a Car Accident Attorney Today for Help After a Motor Vehicle Accident
You now know that a lawyer can be a strong ally to protect your rights. Your lawyer will also try to secure financial recovery for the damages you sustain. Whether you’re considering an insurance claim or lawsuit, having a lawyer is critical.
Do your research on car accident attorneys serving your geographical area. Take advantage of free consultations, which come with no cost or obligation. Start today, as your case may have various deadlines that you must meet.