A car accident can be a very traumatic and confusing experience. Many people understand that a police report needs to be filed. They may even know that the insurance company will be the entity to process the claim and pay for any damages. However, most people do not know when the best time to contact a lawyer is following an accident. The short answer is immediately.
When to Call an Attorney
In general, if a car accident is minor and only involves minimal property damage, an attorney may not be necessary. However, if there is any type of injury, even if it seems to be minor, hiring an attorney is probably a good idea.
Of course, the first thing anyone involved in a car accident should do is move their vehicle to safety and contact any necessary emergency services. Getting proper medical care is of the utmost importance. However, contacting a lawyer should take place before any insurance agent is spoken to.
An attorney will work hard to protect the rights of their client throughout the process of recovering after an accident. An attorney can manage many of the steps involved in filing and processing a claim with the insurance company. This assistance will take the burden off the injured person and provide time to recover from their injuries.
Filing a Claim
To get compensation for any type of car accident, a claim must be filed with the insurance company. Each insurance company has a dedicated line or process to file an accident claim that should be followed by the insured. When an accident occurs, the individual should contact their own insurance provider first to begin the process.
Eventually, there will need to be a statement given about the accident. The injured party may even be contacted by the other party’s insurance company. It is important that they provide only the necessary information and not add unnecessary information that could complicate their claim.
In many cases, an attorney can deal directly with the insurance company. An attorney is experienced with the claims process and will interact with an insurance agent in a manner that will protect the rights of their client.
Getting Medical Care
Medical care should be sought immediately after an accident. There are injuries that may seem mild at first but could develop into something more serious, such as a traumatic brain injury. Immediate care ensures proper treatment and may prevent serious complications.
Immediate medical care is also important for an insurance claim. Delaying care could put a claim at risk. A delay could be used as evidence that the injury was not serious and may even lead to a denial of the claim. Proper medical care, treatment, and documentation of that care are vital for any insurance claim.
The next step in the process is often the negotiations with the insurance company. An insurance agent will attempt to keep the payout low and push for a quick settlement. Many individuals may be unaware of the extent of their injuries or the full cost of their future care. If they accept the low offer now, they will have no recourse to obtain additional compensation later.
An attorney is best suited for these negotiations. They are able to protect the client’s rights and seek the compensation needed to get the injured person back to whole, or as close to it, as possible. If a reasonable settlement cannot be reached, the attorney can pursue a court case on behalf of the injured person.
Going to Court
Most accident cases are settled long before they go to court. However, there are times when an insurance company refuses to pay a fair amount to compensate a person for their injuries. In these cases, a trial may be a necessary next step in the process.
If the case does proceed to trial, an attorney will assist with this process. An attorney can help gather witnesses to the accident. They can even find expert witnesses to help prove the cause of the accident and the injuries incurred. The attorney will work hard to protect their client’s rights and get the compensation they need and deserve.