When Should I get a Car Accident Attorney?
After being involved in a car accident, it is common for people to feel overwhelmed and uncertain about what they should do. If you have been in a car accident, you might wonder whether you should hire a lawyer. If you think that you should, you might also wonder how soon you should schedule a consultation. There are a number of factors that you should consider in order to determine whether you might need a lawyer and when you should contact one.Was the accident caused by someone else?
If your car accident was caused by the actions of another person or an entity, you might have the grounds to file a claim. You might have a claim if the accident was caused by another driver or resulted from a road defect. You might also have a claim if you believe that your accident was caused by a defective component in your vehicle. Finally, you might want to consult with a car accident lawyer if the fault in your accident is unclear.Did you suffer a serious injury?
The severity of your injury is important for determining whether or not you should talk to a personal injury lawyer, as we have previously noted in the National Law Review . If you were not injured or only suffered a very minor injury, you might not need to hire an attorney. In minor accidents, most people are able to handle the claims process on their own. If you were seriously injured and believe that someone else caused the accident and your injuries, it is important for you to talk to an experienced personal injury lawyer. If you had to go to the hospital and to undergo treatment for your injuries, a personal injury attorney may be able to help you to recover compensation.Have you been contacted by an insurance adjuster?
After an insurance company has been notified that one of its insureds caused an accident, it is common for the company to have an insurance adjuster contact the victim. The insurance adjuster might ask you if you would be willing to give a recorded statement, and the insurance company might ask you to sign a medical authorization. You should never agree to give a recorded statement or to sign any documents that might be sent to you without consulting with a personal injury lawyer. Insurance companies try to get recorded statements and medical authorizations from injured victims in an effort to find something that they can use against the victims in their claims.Did the company send you a settlement offer?
If the insurance company sent you a settlement offer, it is a good idea for you to talk to an attorney. At a minimum, a lawyer can evaluate the offer and value your claim so that you understand what your claim might be worth. It is also important to consult with a personal injury lawyer if you believe that your settlement offer is unreasonably low. In some cases, insurance companies will make low-ball offers in the hope that the injured victims will accept them or that the victims will believe that their claims are worth much less than they actually are. A personal injury lawyer may use his or her knowledge about case values to arrive at a reasonable amount. He or she can then negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf in an effort to secure a settlement offer that is fair.Are you comfortable with the law and the negotiations process?
Car accident cases can be complex. If you are unfamiliar with tort law and do not have substantial experience in handling negotiations with insurance companies, you might benefit by getting the help of an experienced injury lawyer. Insurance companies have teams of experienced defense attorneys who are ready to defend them against accident claims. Unless you are prepared to go toe-to-toe with the insurance company's lawyers, it might be a good idea to hire a car accident lawyer who is experienced in negotiating with insurance companies and has the requisite legal knowledge to handle your claim.How much time has passed?
Like other states, California has a statute of limitations for personal injury claims, including car accident cases. You must file a lawsuit against the people who were responsible for your accident and injuries no later than two years from the date that it occurred. If you wait until after this time period has passed, you cannot file a lawsuit to recover damages. The best approach is for you to call a personal injury lawyer as soon after your injury accident as possible. Getting help quickly can help your attorney to gather the evidence to prove your claim before it is lost to time.Is there anything that you should do before you hire a lawyer?
Before you call a lawyer, it is a good idea for you to do a few things first. Immediately after your accident, try to get the names and contact information of all of the witnesses who saw what happened. If you are able to do so, take pictures of the vehicles that were involved, the damage to each vehicle, the location where the accident happened and of your injuries. If you can't take photographs yourself, ask a friend to take them for you. Pictures that are taken immediately after an accident can be invaluable for proving your claim.
If the officer wrote a report in your accident case, request a copy of it. You can do this by going to the police agency that investigated your accident and requesting the report. Many police agencies have instructions on their websites for how to get copies of accident reports. If you are unsure about which police agency investigated your case, start by calling the local police department where your accident happened. If the police department doesn't have a report, try the sheriff's department next.
Going to see a doctor as soon after your accident as possible is important. You should get a medical evaluation after an accident even if you are not certain that you were injured. Some injuries might not show symptoms for several hours or days after an accident. You also should not simply try to tough it out when you are in pain. Getting prompt medical attention can help you to recover faster. Being able to demonstrate that you received treatment for your injuries soon after your accident also makes it easier for you to prove that the accident caused your injuries.
Before you call the lawyer, make certain to gather all of your information together. It will be much easier for you to answer the attorney's questions if you have your documents in front of you. It will also be easier for the attorney to properly evaluate your case.
After thinking through these factors, you might have a better idea of when to contact a car accident lawyer. If you were seriously injured and your accident was caused by someone else, it is a good idea for you to get legal help. Contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Steven M. Sweat for a confidential and free evaluation of your claim at our toll free 24/7 injury helpline: 866-966-5240 or, for more information, visit our related page here: Car Accident Claims in California