Hiring an attorney after you are injured in a car wreck is not required by law. You, do, however, have the right to hire legal representation at any time throughout the process of making an insurance claim or pursuing a personal injury lawsuit.
Victims have a variety of reasons for seeking legal counsel, including want to focus on their own recovery and ensuring that they receive fair compensation from insurance companies.
It is important to remember that each case is unique; hiring a lawyer does not guarantee an outcome. A lawyer can help you investigate the wreck, gather evidence of the other driver’s negligence, and negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf. The legal process can be confusing and take time to navigate; hiring an attorney allows you to spend time with your family and prioritize your health.
You may be wondering, Do I need a lawyer for a car accident? Ultimately, the answer to this question depends on how confident you are in navigating the procedural legal requirements for pursuing a personal injury claim and fighting with large, powerful insurance companies alone.
While you can seek representation at any point, it is almost always better to do so as early in the process as possible. Read on to learn more about the steps to take after a car accident and how an attorney can help you.
When to Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident
So, is it worth hiring an attorney for a car accident? Answering this question can be tricky in some situations. For example, suppose you suffer a minor collision with no injuries. In that case, it may be easier to determine that an attorney may not be needed.
However, contacting a personal injury attorney may be best to determine your best path forward if you’re facing any of the following:
- You suffer injuries, and the other driver denies responsibility;
- You suffer injuries, and the other driver claims you were partly responsible for the collision;
- The insurance company requests a statement from you regarding the collision;
- An insurance adjuster denies liability or claims that you are at fault;
- The accident involved multiple parties;
- The crash involved a government vehicle, including federal, state, or local municipalities; or
- The insurance company fails to respond to your requests.
Any of the following examples may require the help of an experienced personal injury attorney. It’s vital to recover the total value of your losses, especially when you suffered extensive injuries that have significantly impacted your life.
You may choose to represent yourself, but without an attorney, you could miss out on deserved financial compensation from the liable party. This could create a more difficult path ahead for you and your family.
Ultimately, whether you should hire an attorney after a car accident depends on how confident you are navigating the insurance claims process alone and whether you have sufficient time in which to do so. While you can seek representation at any point, it is almost always better to do as early in the process as possible.
Filing an Insurance Claim
When you experience a motor vehicle accident, the first step in seeking compensation is to file a claim with either your own insurance provider or the other driver’s insurance company.
In some states (including Georgia) comparative negligence laws apply. This means that if you share any percentage of fault for causing the wreck, you would see your compensation reduced by your own degree of fault.
In the worst of situations, the other motorist lacks insurance coverage or carries a policy that does not fairly cover your losses.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), car accidents are the leading cause of death for people under 55, while the minimum amount of coverage people are required to have in Georgia is only $25,000.00. The severity of your physical injuries will ultimately determine if you have a case for compensation. Keep in mind, too, that some car accident injuries may only display symptoms days or even weeks after an accident.
If the other driver’s policy cannot cover the costs of your losses, you may be able to seek them through your own policy if you carry uninsured motorist coverage. You can hire an attorney immediately after a car accident to help you assess your losses and explore the options available to you through your own insurance policy.
Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
In the case of an uninsured motorist, for example, even your own policy may not cover your losses. This is when you may have the ability to seek the remainder through a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent driver.
If you believe an insurance company is offering you a settlement that does not fairly cover your losses, you can file a personal injury lawsuit as long as you are within your state’s statute of limitations. A lawyer can also help you determine the time you have to file a lawsuit and take action to meet a deadline.
When pursuing a personal injury lawsuit, many factors must fall into place. Your injuries must have caused real economic or noneconomic losses that you can demonstrate through documentation, such as medical diagnoses and treatments. You must also be able to establish fault on behalf of the other driver.
The Fault for the Accident
Establishing fault would require that a breach in duty of care occurred and that the breach caused your accident. For example, if a driver was operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or engaged in distracted driving while answering a phone or navigating on a GPS, this breach in the duty of care they owed you while on the road may have contributed to the accident.
A lawyer can help investigate the cause of the accident and use evidence to demonstrate the fault of the other driver.
How Can an Attorney Help Me?
An attorney offers valuable assistance to their clients in several ways throughout a personal injury lawsuit. Arguably, three of the most important ways an attorney helps their client is by providing peace of mind, maximizing their settlement, and negotiating on their behalf.
Peace of Mind
Suffering injuries in a collision can completely derail your life. Your injuries may be temporary but require substantial time away from work and other responsibilities. Adapting to this new way of life requires focus and attention when you may be facing a permanent injury. Your attorney gets to work on your case so your focus can be on your health and recovery.
Personal injury laws are challenging to navigate. A skilled attorney understands what laws may be applied to your claim to give you the advantage in your case.
Additionally, they keep track of all procedural deadlines, including applicable statutes of limitations, to ensure you take advantage of every opportunity to assert your rights. They will also analyze the case to determine its value, hold the correct party responsible, and choose the best path forward to help you reach the best possible outcome.
Many personal injury cases rarely head to the courtroom but settle out of court through aggressive and strategic negotiations. Insurance companies focus on protecting their interests and rarely want to pay what may be fair in any claim. Your attorney is skilled in negotiation to eliminate the need for a trial while helping you obtain just compensation.
What Can I Recover After an Accident?
Suffering injuries in a car accident can leave you in financial debt and permanent physical pain. It’s vital to receive the total value of your case from the party that caused you harm. Georgia permits victims to recover compensation through economic and noneconomic damages.
Economic damages include calculable losses directly resulting from your injuries.
These losses include:
- Medical expenses,
- Lost wages,
- Loss of future earnings, and
- Property damage.
Documentation is the most substantial support for economic damages and can be found through pay stubs, medical bills, invoices, and estimates from car repairs.
Noneconomic damages are subjective losses that have no definitive dollar value.
These non-financial losses typically include the following:
- Pain and suffering,
- Emotional distress,
- Loss of consortium,
- Loss of enjoyment of life, and
- Permanent disability or disfigurement.
Despite the challenges in proving these intangible losses, they can be just as devastating and hard to recover from. Noneconomic damages are essential to any personal injury claim as they financially assist victims with losses that substantially impact their well-being.
MG Law Can Help You with Your Case
If you were in an accident and suffered severe injuries, you may not be able to face your mounting medical expenses on your own. This problem can be made worse if your injuries leave you unable to work.
If you did not cause the accident, or even if you only shared fault, you deserve fair compensation to help you get your life back on track. You may be wondering when you should hire an attorney after a car accident. Know that you always have the right to seek legal counsel at any point in time.
We understand you have more to worry about than trying to communicate with difficult insurance companies or aggressive lawyers. Prioritizing your return to a normal life should be at the forefront of your mind. That’s why it’s so important to have an experienced legal team representing your best interests.
MG Law wants to see how one of our car accident lawyers can help you. We handle a variety of personal injury cases, including motor vehicle accidents that involve trucks, commercial vehicles, and motorcycles.
Do not let a negligent party get away with causing your losses without facing the legal consequences. We provide all our clients with the same top-notch service and advocacy until the case is over and we obtain the best possible outcome. We offer free case evaluations so you can understand your legal options and seek financial recovery that fairly covers your losses.