When to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer
Being involved in a motor vehicle accident is a stressful time. Accident victims have so many things to worry about – property damage, medical expenses, dealing with the other driver and insurance companies – that often the thought of hiring legal representation is forgotten or never considered.
If you have been injured in an auto accident or if you have been involved in a wreck with a negligent driver, the first thing you need to do after seeking medical attention is to consider hiring a car accident attorney who will fight for your personal injury claim.
After you or a loved one have been in a car crash, insurance companies will begin looking for any way to minimize or even dismiss your car accident claim. Hiring a law firm with a proven record of successfully litigating personal injuries is the best way to get you the compensation you deserve.
The insurance companies have massive resources and legal teams. You will need a personal injury attorney capable of taking them on and fighting for you.
This may be a confusing and difficult time for you. You may be dealing with serious injuries, wrongful death of a loved one, or you may be worried about how you’ll pay for medical bills and damage to your vehicle. This article is designed to answer your questions about your options in a car accident lawsuit.
What Should I Do After an Accident?
Follow these steps after you have been in a car accident:
- Always contact the police. They will provide official documentation of the wreck and investigate at the scene in an attempt to determine who is at fault.
- Seek medical treatment for any injuries you incur. This will create an exact record of what injuries resulted from the accident.
- Do not leave the crime scene until you are told by the police that it is okay to leave. Leaving the scene in the accident without talking to the police could result in criminal charges against you.
- Exchange contact information with the other driver. This should include, name, insurance, license, and any other pertinent information.
- You should immediately notify your insurance company. If the other driver was at fault, your insurance company will contact their insurer.
- Make an accurate record of what you saw and remember about the wreck. Take notes, pictures, or even sketch the accident scene. Get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses to the accident. It is important as early as possible to organize all of your receipts and records from your accident so they can be used in your case.
- You or your attorney should check the area for third party security cameras that may have recorded your accident.
- Make sure that you do not admit fault in any way. You also should never sign any documents that are not from the police or your insurance agent without consulting an attorney.
- Many attorneys will recommend that you not mention or discuss your accident or injuries in any social media posts such as on Facebook or Twitter.
- Contact a car accident lawyer. They can use the documents from the earlier steps to establish fault and the extent of your injuries and begin building a case for you.
Is It Worth Getting a Car Accident Lawyer if I’ve Been in an Accident?
Without an experienced personal injury lawyer helping with a car accident case, accident victims may place themselves entirely at the whims of insurance adjusters who may seek to minimize the amount of money they will payout.
Car accidents may cause serious damage to your body including burns, disfigurement, permanent disability, brain injury, organ damage, and other injuries. Your vehicle may be in need of repairs or a total replacement.
As a victim, you deserve to be compensated for these damages and an auto accident attorney understands how to make the claims process clear for you. Hiring a personal injury attorney can help make sure that you get all of the remedies that are available to resolve your claim.
An attorney representing you can collect evidence such as:
- Photos of the accident scene
- Photos of the damaged vehicle
- Police crash reports
- Eyewitness statements
- Information from a vehicle’s event data recorder
- Medical and work records
- Electronic evidence including cell phone records
- Manufacturer records and recall information
An attorney can gather all of this information as well as consult with other experts to put together a strong case for you in order to negotiate a settlement with insurance companies both inside and outside the courtroom.
Additionally, accident victims may not be aware of their rights after a car crash and insurance companies will try to use this to their advantage. They will try to get you to admit fault or otherwise establish negligence to lower or dismiss your claim.
An attorney can help inform victims of their rights and advise you on the best way to deal with adjusters without admitting fault or saying anything which could be construed as incriminating.
Attorneys can also, among other things, call upon a network of experts to strengthen your claim, negotiate a better outcome for your claim in most cases, and level the playing field for you against insurance companies who may be acting in bad faith.
Should I Get a Lawyer for an Accident that Wasn’t My Fault?
As we outlined above, hiring an attorney is a crucial step in getting the compensation you deserve. A personal injury lawyer can help you demonstrate fault after an accident and can defend your claim against insurance companies.
Since Kentucky is a no-fault state, your insurance company will pay your personal injury protection (PIP) benefit regardless of who was at fault. An experienced personal injury attorney can review accident reports and witness statements to determine the other driver’s negligence.
Do I Have to Have a Lawyer that Specializes in Accident Cases?
In theory, any attorney licensed to practice in your state can represent you in a car accident case, but they will not have the skills or experience necessary to adequately defend your claims!
You need a personal injury attorney who has experience dealing with cases like your own. Personal injury lawyers specialize in these claims and know the ins and outs of what you are going through. They know how to deal with your case, how to get you the medical treatment, and how to get you the compensation you deserve.
Personal injury attorneys, through their experience and specialization, can provide you with the advice you need to navigate through this difficult time and get your life back on track.
“Insurance companies have people working on the claim as soon as it is reported, but their interests don’t usually match an injured person’s interests. If you have a car accident lawyer, your lawyer can speak for you and your interests so that YOU ARE PROTECTED.”
From Kevin Shannon, Bryant Law Center personal injury attorney.
How Long Do You Have to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer after an Auto Accident?
It is in your best interest to contact a car accident lawyer as soon as possible after a car accident.
There are three primary reasons for this:
Soon after an accident, the evidence starts to fade. The vehicles involved are moved and eyewitnesses move on and forget details. You need someone who can build your case for you by gathering as much evidence as possible to put together your case.
The longer you delay in retaining a law firm to proactively defend you, the harder it becomes to gather the evidence necessary to build a strong case.
Compensation for Treatment and Damages
Paying out of pocket for your medical treatment is stressful and difficult. It may impact your livelihood and ability to make ends meet.
If you delay in contacting an auto accident attorney about your case, you may be losing out on your ability to get the money you need to pay for medical bills or for car repair or replacement. Because a solid case requires sufficient evidence and that evidence is time-sensitive, if you do not reach out to an attorney, you may be unable to receive an adequate settlement.
Statute of Limitations
If you wait too long after an accident, you may not be eligible to bring legal action against the other driver in your car accident case. In Kentucky, the statute of limitations is 2 years after the accident or 2 years after the last no-fault medical payment.
Many personal injuries resulting from a car accident do not present themselves until days or weeks after the fact. After a wreck, you may be receiving treatment for years which could become very costly if you miss out on the chance at legal help while it is still available to you.
If there is a wrongful death claim involved in your case, time may be even shorter. There is a statute of limitations of 1 year after death to bring a wrongful death claim before the court.
How Much is a Car Accident Settlement?
Settlements vary depending on how severe the damages are and upon the case built for your claim. An insurance company may offer you a quick settlement amount based upon data and formulas which allow them to determine how much they are willing to give you.
A personal injury attorney will be able to level the playing field and gather the evidence for you based upon the cost of your medical treatment (both past and future) stemming from the accident, the extent of your injuries and those of your passengers, the damage to your vehicle, witness testimony, police reports, lost income or lost wages, and other items to argue for a fair resolution.
“Determining the value of a claim or settlement is more art than science,” says Kevin Shannon, a Paducah personal injury attorney at the Bryant Law Center. “There are no magic formulas and the internet is not a good source of information. In the end analysis, each claim is unique and its value depends on many different factors that can be evaluated by a car accident lawyer experienced in handling personal injury cases.”
What Can I Recover After an Accident?
After you hire an attorney to pursue your claim you may be eligible for some or all of the following:
What can I recover ….
- Money to repair your vehicle.
- Money for the loss of your vehicle.
- Money for the diminution in value of your vehicle.
- Money for medical expenses reasonably incurred.
- Money for medical expenses reasonably expected to be incurred in the future
- Money for wage loss
- Money for wage loss reasonably expected to be incurred in the future.
- Money for mental, emotional, and physical pain and suffering.
In addition, depending on your facts and circumstances, you might have a claim for punitive damages. Likewise, your spouse and / or your children might also have derivative claims for loss of consortium.
Vehicle Repair or Replacement
The full fair market value of your car may be reimbursed to you if it was declared a total loss by insurance. Otherwise, you may be eligible for damage to your car to be repaired.
Payment for Medical Bills for Car Accident Injuries
Past and future medical bills associated with your car accident may be compensated for you.
Lost Income Compensation
If injuries you sustained have prevented you from working and earning a living, you may be able to be compensated for lost wages.
Pain and Suffering for Injury Compensation
In addition to medical bills, your attorney may be able to successfully argue that the accident has caused you undue pain and suffering. You may be able to recover the damages incurred by the accident.
Compensation for Emotional Distress
After a wreck, you may experience significant emotional trauma including PTSD, anxiety, insomnia, and depression. You may be entitled to compensation for these and other emotional issues.
You may be entitled to seek further compensation if the other driver was engaged in dangerous activities such as drunk driving at the time of the accident.
Compensation in the Case of a Death
If you lost someone in a car accident you may be entitled to compensation for their medical treatment after the wreck, for pain and suffering endured prior to death, for funeral costs, burial costs, and other damages including loss of companionship, loss of consortium, or loss of financial support.
How Long Does a Car Accident Lawsuit Take?
The length of an automobile accident lawsuit varies depending on a number of factors but in general it may take anywhere from a few months to 1 or 2 years. Determining factors include, but are not limited to, whether or not fault has been admitted or determined, the insurance carriers involved, putting together the case, and determining the cost of past, present, and future medical treatments and income loss.
How Much Does A Car Accident Lawyer Charge for a Car Accident Claim?
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis meaning they do not get paid until or unless you are compensated for your claims. When you are preparing to hire a car accident lawyer, they will discuss their contingency fee agreement with you and outline how much they will charge if your case is successful.
Typically, those contingency fees will run from 33 to 40 percent but each case is separate. There are also expenses, such as filing fees, expert witness retainer fees, travel expenses, court reporter fees for depositions and transcripts, and similar expenses.
How Do I Deal with the Insurance Company and an Insurance Claim?
Insurance companies may attempt to get you to take an offer for less than what your claim would be otherwise worth and they may try to further minimize your claim by getting you to provide them with evidence which helps them build a case for them and not for you. After you have filed a claim with them in accordance with your insurance policy, it is best to consult with an attorney.
Without the advice of an attorney, you may find yourself taking a bad offer or being tricked by an insurance adjuster into saying the wrong thing or accepting a lowball offer.
An insurance company may offer you a quick settlement which only covers the market value of your car plus a small amount for some of your medical fees. Once you’ve accepted their offer, you may be unable to take it back and receive appropriate compensation if you need further medical treatment.
They may ask you to go on record and record an interview with you while asking leading questions which make it look like the accident was your fault. After this interview you may have no recourse to get rid of this evidence.
They may also ask you to delay seeking medical treatment so that when you do see a doctor they can argue that they should not have to pay for your medical treatment. They may claim that since you did not see a doctor immediately it must not have been necessary.
A personal injury lawyer can advise you every step of the way in regards to how you should deal with insurance. They can tell you what you should say to them and what you should not. They can guide you through the process so that an insurance adjuster cannot reduce the amount you are due for compensation.
What If the Other Driver Did Not Have Insurance?
An experienced attorney may be able to locate insurance coverage on an at fault driver even if they say they had no coverage. In addition, many auto insurance policies (at an additional cost) have coverage for uninsured and under-insured motorists.
That coverage is not included by default but is available as a nominal fee and is highly recommended. It will cover medical expenses that exceed PIP coverage limits. In Kentucky, your PIP or personal injury protection, will pay your medical costs and possibly lost wages up to the limits of coverage, typically $10,000.
Additional PIP coverage for an extra cost can be added to your policy coverage if you request. One of the more important functions of an attorney in the aftermath of an accident will be to investigate potential insurance coverage for an at-fault driver.
This may be done by investigating who owns the vehicle, if there is a loan on the car that requires insurance to be maintained, or if the driver resides in a residence where a parent or relative has insurance coverage,
A cautionary note for motorcyclists. Motorcycle liability insurance in Kentucky does not include personal injury protection by default. It has to be added as a separate coverage to the policy at additional cost.
What Do You Do in a Minor Car Crash?
A minor car crash may not be so minor as it first appears. Sometimes it may take days for an injury due to the accident to present itself. After a wreck you should still file your claim with insurance, but be mindful not to say anything which could impact your compensation in the event that further damages, such as injury, appear.
You should still visit a doctor for examination so they can see if you sustained any injuries in the accident. This documentation would be very important if you were to pursue legal action against the fault driver.
How Can I Maximize My Car Accident Settlement?
After retaining an attorney to assist you with your claim, documentation will be the most important aspect of getting the most out of your claim.
Be sure to keep all documents related to your accident including police reports, photos, and medical records. It is important to follow your doctor’s medical advice and to always show up to appointments with them. Keep track of how your injury impacts your everyday life.
Each of these things helps make your case stronger and helps to make it more legitimate.
What Types of Car Accidents Can Personal Injury Lawyers Represent Me In?
- Drunk Driving
- Drugged Driving
- Hit and Run Drivers
- Negligent Drivers
- Distracted Driving, Drowsy Driving, and Texting While Driving
- Uber, Lyft, and Ridesharing Accidents
- Speeding, Reckless Driving, and Traffic Accidents
- Vehicle Defects
- Highway Construction Accidents
- Head-on, Rear-end, and Side Impact Collisions
- Semi-Truck Accidents
- Motorcycle Accidents
- Self-Driving Car Accidents
- Pedestrian Accidents
- Passenger Injuries
- Defective equipment such as faulty tires.
How Do I Decide Which Car Accident Lawyer to Hire for Your Claim?
When you are trying to decide which attorney to hire to help you with your car accident legal issues, you need to look for a personal injury law firm with a history and proven track record of fighting for car accident victims.
Be careful to avoid attorneys who take on as many people as possible in an attempt to speed them through the process and settle quickly without thoroughly investigating the details of your case. These attorneys may not be able to get you a fair settlement because their priority is having a revolving door of clients to profit from.
However, most car accident claims are eventually settled and do not go to trial. Be sure that the attorney you choose has experience in personal injury cases and has the dedication to fight for you.
You need an auto accident lawyer who understands how to deal and negotiate with the at fault party’s insurance company. An experienced lawyer can guide you through the process, hold the responsible parties accountable, and get you the fair compensation you deserve.
Free Attorney Consultation
If you’ve been in a motor vehicle accident and need help call the law offices at the Bryant Law Center for a free consultation.
The Bryant Law Center thoroughly reviews each accident to obtain the full scope of all damages and costs including medical, property, and economic loss as well as other damages that state or federal law permit.
“We conduct a thorough search for all available insurance coverage on our client as well as the opposing party’s coverages,” said President Mark Bryant, “We review any possible vehicle defects, all medical expenses and medical records, and wage loss records. The Bryant Law Center employs a former claims adjuster for a major insurance company in our personal injury department to assist our attorneys in reviewing medical expenses,”
“Our attorneys have more than 50 years of combined experience handling auto accidents and personal injury cases. We have the experience, skill, and dedication needed to fight for your rights and ensure that you get the fair compensation you deserve.”
Call the Bryant Law Center and speak to Kevin Shannon or Austin Kennady about your case at (270) 908-0995