When Should I Hire An Attorney After An Accident?
Every day we come across devastating news of people suffering severe accidents. The accidents can be of different types: sometimes just vehicles are damaged, sometimes there are people who are the victims of the accidents, sometimes the accidents can be mild or severe. So how will you decide whether to hire a lawyer after the accidents? It is quite an important decision to make as it is related to the insurance claim. Every person being the victim of the accident has the right to reach out to the attorneys or lawyers and talk to them. Injury lawyers usually offer free and confidential consultations. As such, it is a good idea to run your case by a lawyer to determine if you would benefit from hiring a lawyer. You are free to end the consultation and choose not to hire a lawyer without incurring any cost or delay.
Ultimately, we recommend contacting a lawyer for your free consultation as soon as possible. It is wise to speak with a lawyer prior to reporting the accident to your insurance company. That way you can be prepped on questions to expect from the insurance company and go into the first meeting knowing your rights.
Often, the insurance companies have their own team of attorneys and claim adjusters working the file. Their goal is to minimize their exposure and they would begin their work right away. The claim adjusters first will decide whether there is coverage for an accident. For example, they will investigate whether the policy was paid up, whether the insurance application was properly completed, whether the driver in a car accident claim was properly listed on the policy, whether the car was registered to the proper address, and a checklist of other items. If there is no coverage, the claim pretty much hits a dead end and you would need a lawyer to handle a coverage dispute. Next, the insurance company will explore the facts of the event, try to obtain witnesses and lock people into recorded statements (which we typically object to providing). From there the insurance company will focus on the medical treatment and severity of the injuries.
Insurance companies are known to offer small settlements right off the bat to close the case out fast. They may offer to pay your $1,000-$5,000 right away in exchange for you signing a release to end the case. It is rarely advisable to take a quick settlement. Some injured parties may accept a $2,500 quick settlement only to learn later their hospital bill was $35,000 and now they are upside down. We have also heard of cases where people’s injuries come on slow and get worse overtime. In that circumstance, $2,500 is less attractive if the injured party later is a candidate for a surgery.
Florida accident victims (not including medical negligence) have 4 years to prosecute their claims. There is usually no advantage to jumping at an early settlement. Take your time. Speak with experienced counsel. Assess the full picture of your injuries and make an educated decision on resolving your claim.
Hiring A Lawyer Is Quite Important After An Accident:
#1 Your Vehicle Sustained Significant Damage:
In the event your airbag exploded, sustained serious damage or was totaled you should speak with a lawyer. This means your crash was strong and odds are you will want to get checked out before closing your case. The lawyer can assist you in seeking medical care for an initial examination and keep the insurance companies from harassing you until you feel ready to speak with them. Some injuries don’t arise right away and speaking on the record to the insurance company too soon can backfire down the road.
#2 You Sustained A Serious Injury Requiring Ongoing Medical Treatment:
Florida law provides only those people who sustained a permanent injury are entitled to compensation for pain and suffering following a car accident. The term “permanent injury” is not perfectly defined and that is often an area of contention among the law. The insurance carriers are quick to say there is no permanent injury and push to close the case. An experienced lawyer can help you get examined by competent and caring doctors who will advocate on your behalf in the event you sustained a personal injury which is permanent in nature.
#3 There Is A Dispute Who Is At Fault::
Some accidents are clear cut i.e. rear-end hit. Others not so much. If you think there will be a dispute of liability, it is a good idea to speak with an attorney. Certain evidence must be preserved right away or will be lost. Cars have blackbox devices that temporarily store crash related data. There may be video surveillance capturing the incident. 911 call recordings are also a helpful item to preserve. A lawyer will help track down important evidence to support your theory of the case against the other side. Much of this evidence can be lost if not preserved right away.
Consult a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after an accident. There is no cost to you and you will obtain valuable information.