Car accidents can range from the annoying to the deadly serious, from minor bumps and scratches to catastrophic and fatal incidents. As a rule of thumb, if you weren’t seriously injured and your vehicle’s damage is minor, you won’t need to call an attorney. If you are injured, it is to your advantage to have an attorney’s help.
The four critical times when you need to contact an attorney
In any of the following scenarios, it’s best to contact a lawyer. If you don’t, you may not end up with a large enough settlement to cover your damages.
1. Serious injury or death is involved
Any fatal accident or crash which leaves one or both drivers or passengers dead or grievously injured is inevitably going to lead to legal action. Whether you are on the suing or receiving end of a wrongful death or major personal injury lawsuit, you should not ever attempt to bring a suit or be sued without an attorney backing you up.
2. Disagreement over who is at fault
This may be less obvious, but insurance companies need to know who was responsible for an accident before they dish out any compensation for damages and repairs. If you live in a “no fault” state, such as Florida for example, then each driver’s insurance company is going to cover their individual costs, not the other driver(s). In this case, if the damage is small and follow-up medical bills are very low, you might not need a lawyer, even if it isn’t clear who is at fault.
In a no-fault state, insurance will only cover up to a certain point. If the damages exceed the limits of the policy, you or the other driver may be liable. In a “fault” state, you probably will want to consult a lawyer if it isn’t clear who caused the accident rather than attempting to negotiate with the other driver’s insurance company on your own.
3. You didn’t have insurance or were uninsured at the time of the accident
If you didn’t have car insurance when the accident occured, particularly if you were at fault or if there was any disagreement over who was at fault, you should lawyer up as soon as possible, even as soon as the same day. In most states, driving without insurance is a crime, and it opens you up to a very long list of liabilities that you will not want to deal with on your own. You can click here to learn more about the penalty for driving without insurance in your state.
4. The police report doesn’t match up with you think happened
If the police were involved in the aftermath of the crash, they will have to submit a police report, which the insurance companies involved will then request. If you are submitting a claim, you will also want to request this report and read it over. Do the details conflict with your recollection of the events? If so, you absolutely need to call a lawyer to handle your case. It is possible to contest the official police account of what transpired, but never try to do this by yourself!
I’m not sure if it’s really worth it to get a lawyer. What are the benefits to having legal representation?
It’s understandable to be wary about hiring a lawyer, but almost anywhere you find yourself in the US, liability law can be very complex. Even if you don’t end up going to court, just having a lawyer handle the negotiations with the car insurance company on your behalf will almost always work to your advantage.
To learn more about what you should look for in an attorney, visit this Fort Worth car accident attorney in Texas website. The sooner you do so, the better, because insurance company representatives will try to quickly offer you a settlement to try to get you to settle for less.