Many people struggle to determine whether they need to hire a lawyer to deal with the aftermath of a car accident—and all too often, they find themselves waiting too late to make a call regarding their rights following a severe accident.
Ideally, you should call a car accident lawyer for a consultation as soon after your accident as possible, which may provide you with more information about how to negotiate or who may bear liability for your accident. However, in some cases, you may find yourself wondering if working with a car accident lawyer will benefit your case and how.
If you have questions about whether you need a car accident lawyer, keep in mind that most lawyers will start with a free consultation. During your free consultation, you may get a better idea of whether a lawyer will genuinely benefit you and what working with that lawyer might look like.
On the fence about whether working with a car accident lawyer will benefit you and your claim? Consider these factors.
You suffered injuries in your car accident.
If your accident involved a minor collision that only resulted in property damage—everyone walked away from the accident, and no one showed signs of injury, either immediately after the accident or in the days that followed—you might handle your car accident on your own.
Once you have an estimate for your vehicle damage, you can submit it to the insurance company, and the insurance company will usually let you know how much compensation you deserve and how to manage repairs. A car accident lawyer can help you recover the full amount needed to repair your vehicle if the insurance company refuses to pay it.
On the other hand, if you suffered injuries in your car accident, you may have a much longer road to compensation and a much harder fight on your hands.
Insurance companies will usually pay out the full amount required to take care of damages to a vehicle, but they may fight much harder when it comes to the compensation deserved for serious injuries. Often, insurance companies will offer only a percentage of the damages you claim after your car accident, which could leave you struggling to pay your medical bills or manage your other expenses even though someone else caused the accident.
Suppose, for example, that you have a broken leg. Thanks to the need for surgery, you end up with a $25,000 medical bill. You may also have other expenses related to the incident, including substantial wage loss due to time out of work following your car accident. Unfortunately, the insurance company might not even offer the full value of your medical costs in a settlement offer. If you need to ask for other financial compensation, including compensation for your lost wages, you may find yourself missing out on thousands of dollars in deserved compensation.
The insurance company disputes liability for your car accident.
To claim compensation through the other driver's insurance after a car accident, you must establish that the other driver caused the accident. You may have unequivocal evidence that the other driver's actions led to your accident: a T-bone collision in which the other driver ran the red light, for example. However, the insurance company may try to claim that your actions contributed to the accident, or even that you caused it altogether.
Cases of disputed liability can prove particularly difficult when you suffer severe injuries in the accident, since you may have considerable compensation on the line. A lawyer can help put together the evidence you may need to establish liability for the accident, whether that means looking at evidence from the scene, including photo evidence or video footage of the accident when you can find it, or bringing in an expert witness who can help recreate exactly what led to the accident using the damage to the two vehicles and information about the scene of the accident.
A lawyer can also help fight to get you the compensation you may deserve in cases of disputed liability. While insurance companies frequently act in their own best interests, protecting their finances as much as possible while dealing with an accident claim, a lawyer can bring your best interests to the forefront and make it easier to acquire that much-needed compensation.
The insurance company denies coverage for the injuries you sustained in the accident.
The insurance company may use several tactics to reduce the compensation it has to pay out for the injuries you sustained in the accident, often by denying the full extent of your injuries.
The insurance company might claim that you suffered your injuries at another time.
If you have a preexisting condition or injury, the insurance company might try to deny payment for anything associated with that injury, even if the car accident caused those symptoms to worsen or cause new symptoms related to that injury.
If you discovered your injuries several days or more after the car accident, as in cases of back or neck injuries that you may not have noticed immediately or a traumatic brain injury that did not show symptoms immediately after the accident, the insurance company may try to claim that your injuries occurred during other circumstances and that, as a result, the company should not have to pay out for those damages.
Seeking medical treatment immediately after a car accident can make it easier to prove exactly when your injuries occurred. A doctor's record will serve as evidence of what injuries you sustained and that they did occur as a direct result of the trauma from the car accident, not from another source.
The insurance company might claim that you worsened your injuries.
Many people will ignore the instructions given by their doctors as they move toward recovery. For example, if you have a broken leg, your doctor might recommend that you avoid bearing any weight at all on the injured limb for several weeks after the accident, or after your surgery, if you had to have it. If you fail to follow those instructions, you may worsen your injuries.
Likewise, you may need to follow a specific plan for your recovery. You might, for example, need to go to regular physical therapy sessions or even perform exercises at home. Your doctor might recommend light exercise as a way to help you regain strength following your injuries.
If you fail to engage in those activities, it could slow down your recovery or even prevent you from regaining all of your strength and mobility. If you ignore your doctor's instructions, you may end up bearing liability for any portion of your injuries worsened by those actions, particularly if the insurance company's record shows that you failed to follow those instructions.
The insurance company might claim that your injuries do not pose the severe limitations you have included in your claim.
Serious car accident injuries can interfere in your life in any number of ways. Your injuries might prevent you from going back to work, or they might make it much more difficult for you to enjoy the activities that once brought joy to your life. As a result, you may find yourself struggling with increased anxiety or depression. The losses you face as a direct result of your injuries, including the activities you cannot engage in, can also impact the compensation you can recover for pain and suffering.
The insurance company, however, might try to deny compensation for those limitations. Sometimes, the insurance company might try to prove that you can engage in those activities, even though you may have found yourself struggling every time you tried.
You may undergo an independent medical evaluation with an evaluator who does not fully understand the extent of your limitations: one who claims that your injuries pose fewer limitations than you have indicated, and even that you should have the ability to resume normal life despite continuing pain or lingering weakness from your injuries.
Furthermore, the insurance company may look at your social media activity or even listen as you make small talk and try to use that information to establish that your injuries do not limit you as much as you claimed.
Suppose, for example, that you went out for a weekend trip with friends. Social media pictures showing you engaging in activities that your injuries should prevent, based on your claim, could work against you as you move forward with your lawsuit. A lawyer can provide you with more information about how to avoid those possible repercussions, including how to keep information off of social media that could work against you later.
The insurance company might claim that you did not need the treatments you received.
As part of your car accident claim, you will collect and add up your medical bills to serve as evidence of the direct costs you have faced due to your accident. You may have treatment options for your injuries based on the type of injury and the available medical care for that injury. Sometimes, you may opt for more complicated and involved treatments or one that may cost more instead of trying a lower-cost treatment that might have lower chances of success. Other times, you might choose to go the extra mile for your medical care.
Sometimes, the insurance company may deny that you needed those treatments, or that they pertained to the specific injury you received in the car accident. The insurance company may, as a result, deny payment for that portion of your claim, reducing the total compensation you can recover for those injuries.
A lawyer can help establish that you did need those treatments to recover from your injuries, including, if necessary, consulting with or providing reports from medical experts to show the course of treatment most needed for your injuries.
The insurance company delays payment excessively.
In general, once you reach a settlement agreement with the insurance company, you should receive payment promptly. You need to repair your vehicle, take care of your medical expenses, and move forward with your life after the accident.
Sometimes, however, the insurance company may delay your payment, dragging out the process unnecessarily so that it can keep those funds in its bank account for as long as possible. If you struggle to get the insurance company to pay out the compensation you deserve, particularly after agreeing to a settlement offer, a lawyer can push the insurance company to deliver.
You have questions about your car accident claim or your rights.
Any time you have questions about your car accident claim or your right to compensation, working with a car accident lawyer can help provide vital answers to those questions. You can start with a free consultation to get answers to some of your most pressing questions or to learn more about how you need to proceed with your car accident claim, including whether a lawyer can benefit your claim.
Many lawyers will only take car accident claims when they feel they can offer the victim benefits beyond what the victim could recover by filing on their own. The lawyer you connect with can help answer those questions and give you more information.
Do You Need a Car Accident Lawyer?
If you have suffered injuries in a car accident, do not wait to get the legal help you need. Instead, get in touch with a personal injury lawyer as soon after your accident as you can to get more information about your rights, from how much compensation you might deserve to how to move through the claim process.