Many things occupy the front of your mind when you or a loved one has suffered an injury in a car accident. First and foremost, you are worried about your health and whether you can recover from your injuries. Finances are also a major worry, as the bills are mounting, and you may not be earning any money.
You may need the money from a car accident settlement, but you may not have the bandwidth or knowledge to obtain it on your own. Accordingly, the best time to contact an attorney is as soon as possible after your car accident.
There are many reasons why retaining an attorney should be one of the first things that you do. While it might not be at the top of the list of things you want to tackle right away, moving quickly will only benefit you and your future.
Moreover, hiring an attorney is not as daunting as you might imagine. Car accident lawyers understand the position you are in when dealing with injuries, and they work to make the hiring process as stress-free as possible.
Understandably, you may not be mentally ready to launch the legal process when dealing with car accident injuries. After all, your health should be prominent in your mind, and you may not have the mental space or the ability to compartmentalize issues or multitask. However, the realities of the legal process are such that you are better off beginning as soon as possible.
To be clear, there is no legal requirement that you have an attorney when filing a car accident claim or lawsuit. However, your case has a much greater chance of success when you have an experienced lawyer guiding you and advocating for you. There is a limited amount that you can do on your own, and insurance companies might not take you seriously. Thinking that you can save money by handling your car accident case yourself is one of the biggest mistakes possible after you have suffered an injury in the crash.
After your car accident, you are proceeding down two parallel paths. The first path is taking care of your health and seeing the doctors you need to see for proper treatment of your injuries. The second is the legal process you must follow to get financial compensation when someone else was to blame for your accident.
While you have no set time to hire a lawyer, the best time to do it is immediately. If you plan to invest in legal experience, which you should, there is no reason not to do it as soon as possible. Even if you take more time to file the actual claim, you are always in a better position when you have representation by counsel. Insurance companies make much of their money taking advantage of unrepresented claimants who put their trust in them to do the right thing.
Whether you are ready or not, the insurance company may decide to begin the legal process independently. While you may not think they can start matters without you, there are many things they can do to begin work on their end. They may do this when they know you have a valid claim and want to do their best to undermine your claim.
They can do this in several ways, including:
The sooner you hire an attorney, the less effective the insurance company’s games are. They have one goal in your legal process – to keep you from getting the full amount of money you deserve. They want to make your case go away for as little money as possible if they even pay you at all.
It is very difficult for a lawyer to pick up a car accident case months after it happens and still be as effective as they otherwise might have been. While an attorney can still succeed when beginning work on a case later, it is certainly much more difficult.
In every car accident case, you must prove that someone else was negligent to qualify for financial compensation. Negligence is a legal term for when another driver fails to uphold their duty of care by acting unreasonably under the circumstances. You need to prove negligence through the available evidence that shows exactly what the driver did. Otherwise, you will have only your word, which may not be enough to persuade the insurance company or a jury.
Car accident evidence is only available to you for a certain period. You may lose it forever if you do not act to secure it. For example, you do not have unlimited time to locate the people who witnessed a car crash. Even if you do, their recollections may grow inaccurate with time. The sooner your attorney gets to work, the quicker they can get their hands on the evidence you need to prove your case. You may find it more difficult to achieve success if you wait to start the process.
The legal process takes time from start to finish. Even if your case does not go to trial, it can still take more than a year to reach a settlement agreement with the insurance company. For them, the process starts when you actually file the claim. You will need an attorney to effectively file a claim with the insurance company. You do not want to put a foot forward to an insurance company that is not your absolute best.
It may take your lawyer time to assemble the claim you will file. First, they will need to investigate the circumstances behind your accident and assemble the necessary proof. Second, they will need to determine the value of your case to know how much you should seek in damages. These steps may take time, and they cannot happen overnight.
The timing of when you hire a lawyer can impact the timing of when you get a settlement check. Since you need the money after a car accident, it is always better to hire a lawyer as soon as possible. While you should not rush filing your claim, it is advantageous for you to at least have a lawyer in place representing your legal interest.
Many things can happen in the days after an accident. You are not in a position to deal with them yourself, as you are preoccupied with your health situation. If you file a claim after a car accident, chances are that you suffered physical injuries. Dealing with legal matters is the last thing you want to do, both from a bandwidth and knowledge perspective.
Even if you had the time, you lack the ability to deal with the insurance company. They have an entire infrastructure devoted to saving that money at your expense. They’re more than happy to put it to work to deny you your legal rights and cost you money. An experienced lawyer is your protection against insurance company overreach.
When you hear that you have legal rights, it means you must do something to exercise them. You are the one who needs to take action. Unless you actively take steps to fight for financial compensation, you will end up with nothing or far less than you deserve. Hiring a lawyer gives you greater control over a process that inherently aims to work against you. If you do not get legal counsel, the insurance company is far less likely to deal fairly with you.
Not only will hiring a lawyer benefit your case, but not having one can actively hurt it. You may make a mistake in handling your own case that can either cost you financial compensation entirely or greatly reduce it. Once you make an error, it is on the record, and the insurance company will not hesitate to use it against you. Even if you later hire an attorney, insurance adjusters still have their own evidence that they will utilize at a strategic time.
You can make the following mistakes without an attorney:
You will not have to worry about mistakes when you have an experienced lawyer. They are the ones who speak with the insurance company, and they will give you advice about what you should and should not be doing. While you still remain in control of your decisions, you are handing over the operation of your case to the lawyer. Not only does it ensure that you have a competent and knowledgeable professional, but it also saves you from having to engage in the process when you may not have the ability.
In theory, hiring a car accident lawyer should not be too difficult. First, you do not have the money concern that you may have for hiring other types of lawyers. When you work with a personal injury lawyer, no money actually comes out of your pocket.
Your lawyer works for you on a contingency basis. The only way that they get paid is if you get paid. Then, they are paid directly out of the proceeds of your settlement or jury award. It does not cost you anything from your bank account to get legal help.
To hire an attorney, you will speak with them at an initial consultation before you both decide if you want to work with each other. You may speak with multiple attorneys to get a basis for comparison. It just requires several initial conversations.
You certainly lose nothing by speaking to an attorney. The worst that happens when you get a free consultation is that you and the attorney do not end up working together. You will not get a bill in the mail after that. All it will cost you is time.
Your injuries may be serious enough to prevent you from doing the work to find a lawyer. In that case, your family should speak with lawyers and help you make the decision. There is no reason why you cannot hire a lawyer, even if you suffered an injury. If you are waiting to hire a lawyer until you recover from your injuries, it can compromise your case.
Not only should you hire a car accident attorney, but you need to hire the right one for the job. There are many options available to you, and you should speak with as many personal injury attorneys as necessary to know that you have the right one. Although you do not have to set up an additional consultation with every car accident attorney, it helps to speak with several to gain a better understanding of how lawyers operate.