When should I hire a car accident attorney?

5-7 minute read | Published: March 28, 2024 | Updated: April 20, 2024

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As a car accident victim, you have to deal with a lot of things all at the same time – medical expenses, property damage, insurance companies and paperwork. Not to mention, you’re also battling with the pain and emotional trauma caused by the accident.

If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in a vehicle accident, then you need to hire a car accident attorney. The sooner you do so, the better.

Why? Because insurance companies will always look for loopholes and employ tactics to minimize your car accident claim. They have a lot of resources at their disposal, and will do what they can to avoid paying a hefty sum. They have to protect their bottom line, after all.

car insurance claims

But when you have a lawyer (or even better, a law firm) with a solid track record of successfully litigating personal injuries, the odds will be in your favor. That’s because a lawyer will always be more adept at getting you the compensation you deserve.The percentage for a lawyer typically ranges from 20% to 40% of the total settlement or award, depending on the complexity of the case.

What to Do After the Accident

Here’s a guide shared by the Insurance Information Institute on what you need to do first, following a car accident.

1. Check for Injuries

The first thing you should do is check yourself and your passengers for any injuries. If anyone is hurt, call 911 immediately. If you’re able to, move to a safe location away from traffic while waiting for help.

2. Ensure Passenger Safety

After checking your own well-being, you should check on the other occupants of your vehicle. If anyone is injured, it’s crucial to get them medical attention as soon as possible. Safety should always be your top priority.

3. Move to Safety

If your vehicle is still drivable and it’s safe to do so, move it to the side of the road. If it’s not safe to move the vehicle, leave it where it is and get yourself to a safe location away from traffic.

4. Contact Emergency Services

Regardless of the severity of the accident, call the police. They will document the incident, which will be useful when filing an insurance claim. If the police are unable to come to the scene, file a report at the nearest police station.

5. Wait for Assistance

While waiting for help to arrive, turn off your vehicle’s engine, turn on your hazard lights, and use any road flares or warning triangles you have to alert other drivers.

6. Exchange Information

Exchange contact and insurance information with the other driver. The key details you need to gather include full names of the driver/s, insurance company and policy numbers, driver’s license information, vehicle descriptions, and the location of the accident.

7. Document the Incident

Obtain the names and badge numbers of responding police officers and request a copy of the accident report. Take photographs of the vehicles involved and gather contact information from any witnesses.

car accident documentation

8. Notify Your Insurance Provider

If the other driver was at fault, your insurance provider will be the one to contact the other driver’s insurer.

Aside from these pointers shared by iii.org, we would also like to add a few important things:

  • First off, do not admit fault in any way.
  • Do not sign any document aside from the ones provided by your insurance agent and the police, unless your attorney tells you it’s ok to do so.
  • Avoid talking about the details of the accident on social media platforms.
  • Find a car accident attorney as soon as you possible.

Is a Car Accident Attorney Necessary?

Vehicular accidents can cause severe and long-term injuries. Your vehicle may need some major repairs, or you may even need a new vehicle entirely. All these things could end up with you spending tens of thousands of dollars or more. Hiring a car accident lawyer can help you get fair compensation for these damages so you don’t have to pay for them out of pocket.

Not only will your lawyer guide you through the process, they can also collect pieces of evidence such as:

  • Police crash reports
  • Eyewitness statements
  • Medical and work records
  • Information from a vehicle’s event data recorder
  • Photos of the vehicles
  • Photos or video fees from security cameras
  • Cell phone records and other electronic data
  • Vehicle manufacturer records
  • And many more.
car accident attorney

An attorney can gather all of this information, consult with experts and talk to the witnesses to build a strong case for you. With a stronger case, you’ll be in a better position to negotiate a settlement with the insurance providers.

And if the case should go to trial, your lawyer will fight tooth and nail to make sure the judgement will be favorable to you.

Hiring an Attorney that Specializes in Accident Cases

In principle, any lawyer licensed to practice in your state can represent you. But if you want a better chance of getting a fair compensation then you can’t just choose any lawyer. You need one that has the skills and experience to sufficiently and confidently defend your claim.

A car accident attorney is the one you should call if you get into a car accident, just as you would go to a cardiologist if you have a heart problem. It’s as simple as that.

Car accident lawyers know how to handle your case (they’ve handled numerous cases just like yours!), and they know the process needed to get you the medical treatment you require even without you having to spend a dime for it while your case is on-going.

Auto accident attorneys, through their expertise and experience, can provide you with the guidance you need to navigate through this difficult time.

How Soon Do I Need to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?

Simply put, as soon as possible. Let me tell you why.

You need a lawyer to gathering evidence. Remember, evidence fades fast after an accident (vehicles are moved, witnesses forget details, and crucial information slips away). Time is of the essence.

Secondly, paying for medical treatment and car repairs out of pocket can be incredibly stressful. If you delay contacting an auto accident attorney you could be missing out on the compensation needed to cover these expenses.

car accident vehicle damage

Lastly, you don’t want to wait until you can no longer file a claim. When the statute of limitations begin, the clock starts ticking. Most states have a 2 year time limit for filing a claim. Some states only have a year while others have up to 6 years.

The point is, waiting too long to take legal action can jeopardize your chances of getting compensation. Keep in mind that a lot of injuries don’t show any signs or symptoms immediately after the accident, which is all the more reason to hire a car accident attorney as soon as possible.

Category: Car Accident FAQs