Do you need a lawyer immediately after a car crash, or should you wait to see if the insurance company pays your claim? Should you hire a personal injury lawyer for minor injuries? Unfortunately, knowing when you need to hire a car accident lawyer can be difficult.
The good news is that most car accident lawyers offer free consultations so that you can discuss these questions. Therefore, you can discuss your case and receive an honest assessment of your claim from an experienced personal injury lawyer.
Here are seven general signs you need a car accident attorney after a car accident:
Seven Signs You Need to Hire a Car Accident Attorney
Situations that should prompt you to contact an attorney include:
1. You Sustained Catastrophic Injuries
Accident victims who sustain catastrophic injuries can develop permanent impairments or disabilities. Traumatic injuries and disabilities increase the complexity of a personal injury claim.
For example, you may require ongoing medical care if you sustain a permanent impairment. As a result, you may be unable to work, or your future earning potential may decrease substantially.
You are entitled to compensation for future damages. However, valuing future damages can be difficult. In many cases, you might need to retain medical experts and economists to determine the extent of your damages.
An attorney can help you retain specialists to calculate your past, present, and future damages.
2. You Are Being Blamed for Causing the Car Crash
All 50 states have comparative negligence laws related to car accidents. In a handful of states, an injury victim cannot recover any compensation for damages if they share blame for the accident—even if the other driver is 99 percent at fault.
In the remaining states, the victim's compensation is reduced by their percentage of fault for the crash. New York is a pure comparative fault state. You can recover damages regardless of your percentage of blame for the accident.
However, many states have a 50 or 51 percent bar. If your fault is over these amounts, you receive nothing for the accident.
Insurance companies typically try to shift some of the blame to the accident victim to save money. Accident victims should seek legal counsel if anyone alleges they are partially to blame for the cause of the car wreck.
3. A Government Entity Is Involved in the Case
The rules for car accident cases with government entities are unique. The deadlines for filing claims may be shorter, and there may be a cap on the amount of money a person can receive.
If the government is involved, it is best to call a lawyer as soon as possible.
4. Your Accident Involved a Commercial Truck
Commercial truck accidents are complicated accident cases. Attorneys understand the rules and regulations governing the trucking industry and how federal trucking regulations impact an accident claim.
Evidence could be lost or destroyed unless you move quickly to secure it. A lawyer can help preserve the data on the truck's black box and other records that could help you prove liability for the truck accident.
5. Your Child Was Injured in the Accident
When a child is injured in a car accident, the injuries could result in long-term cognitive, physical, and emotional impairments. Therefore, it is crucial to account for all of your child's damages in an accident claim. Once you settle the claim, your child cannot recover more money if you later discover they have a disability due to the accident.
The court may need to approve settlement agreements to ensure they are in the child's best interest. An attorney can handle all of the legal aspects of having a settlement approved by the court.
6. Time Is Running Out to File a Claim
Generally, it is in your best interest to talk with a lawyer after an automobile accident. You need to understand your legal options and the deadlines for filing claims and lawsuits (statute of limitations).
The statute of limitations varies by state, and the factors in your case could shorten or lengthen the filing deadline. Missing the deadline will eliminate your right to hold the at-fault party responsible for your damages.
7. The Insurance Adjuster Tells You That You Do Not Need an Attorney
The claims adjuster works for the insurance company. They protect the insurance company's best interest, which is to avoid paying your claim.
Therefore, if an insurance adjuster tells you that you do not need a car accident lawyer, be wary. The adjuster may be attempting to undervalue your claim before you realize how much it is worth.
If you are unsure how much your damages are worth, you should talk with a lawyer before settling your claim. Do not allow the insurance company to avoid paying you the full value of your personal injury claim.
Jay Knispel is a car accident and personal injury lawyer serving New York City and the surrounding boroughs. As the founding attorney of the Law Offices of Jay S. Knispel Personal Injury Lawyers, Jay has over 25 years of experience fighting for accident victims and recovering the financial compensation his clients deserve.