If you were in a car crash, you may have questions about when to get an attorney for a car accident. People choose to hire lawyers at all different stages after a crash. While there are some benefits to partnering with a lawyer at certain times, you’ll likely find that an attorney can help you during any stage of the post-accident process.
Here are some points in time when you need to hire a car accident lawyer:
- Right after your accident: If you get an attorney for a car accident right after the fact, it may benefit you in the future. You can work with your lawyer while you consult with your insurance agency.
- After you have (at least mostly) healed from your injuries: Usually, it’s easier to determine a case’s potential value if most of your medical bills are behind you (or if you have a clear prognosis and outline for the future)
- When other insurance companies start trying to contact you: You do need to talk to your own insurance company after a car accident. You do not have to talk to other insurance companies after an accident. If you have trouble fielding calls from multiple agencies, a car accident attorney can help.
- If you have questions about your accident or your rights: Regardless of your question, anything concerning your accident or your legal rights can probably be answered during a free consultation with a qualified car accident lawyer.
What Should I Do After a Car Accident?
So, what happens after a car accident? And what should you do after you’ve been involved in a car crash? Luckily, you can take some basic steps to help protect your physical, emotional, financial, and even legal well-being.
Remain at the accident scene
Don’t leave the scene of your car accident before you speak with the police. In many cases, this is illegal. It could open you up to legal risk. Stay on-scene until you’ve filed an accident report and you know everyone is safe.
Make sure you are safe.
It’s important to ensure your physical safety after a car crash. Before moving, make sure your head, neck, and back are not in extreme pain— if they are, dial 911 or call for help.
Make sure you relocate to somewhere out of the way of danger. This includes oncoming traffic and damaged vehicles that could explode or catch on fire.
Make sure other people involved in the crash are safe.
If you are safe, make sure everybody else is too. Help everyone out of the way of traffic and the immediate accident scene.
Contact emergency services
Usually, it’s best to call 911 after an accident. It just helps to ensure that emergency services respond to your accident promptly. You can also call your local non-emergency number after a minor crash. Just keep in mind that response times may be slow.
You may see police, firefighters, and paramedics responding to your car accident. The police will help document and collect evidence. They will also work with you to file an accident report (which you will very likely need later on).
Exchange information with the other driver(s)
It’s a good move to exchange some basic information with any other drivers involved in your accident. It’s much easier to do it at the accident scene than to try to collect it later.
Make sure you note the driver’s:
- Contact information
- License plate info
- Driver’s license details
- Insurance information
Talk to witnesses
For the most part, your lawyer and the police will handle talking to witnesses. It is not your job to collect lengthy interviews or statements from accident witnesses. Jot down their names and contact information to make them easier to find later on.
Seek medical care
Seek medical care as soon as you can after an accident. If you were not treated on-scene or in a hospital, visit your doctor. If you were treated on-scene or in a hospital, visit your doctor anyway for a follow-up. Your primary care physician should always be up-to-date on your health.
Contact your insurance provider
Tell your insurance provider about your accident— and even though communicating with insurance companies isn’t always easy, you can make it simpler. Try taking notes about what you want to say; some people even hire a lawyer at this point to help them with the process.
Consult multiple qualified car accident attorneys
You should meet with a qualified car accident attorneys to learn more about your rights after a car crash. If you have any questions at all about the accident, you’ll be able to get answers.
When to Get an Attorney for a Car Accident
When should I hire an attorney after a car accident?
Most car accident attorneys are used to questions about the timing of retaining their services. We’re here to shed some light on when it might be best to hire an attorney after a car accident.
The accident injured you
No matter how minor you believe (or are told) your injuries are, at the end of the process, the medical bills might surprise you. Monetary, physical, or emotional— people experience many effects from different injuries.
A qualified car accident lawyer can help you pursue compensation for your injuries. This might include financial damages to account for medical bills, mental anguish, pain and suffering, and even disability or debilitation.
Your accident grows expensive
If you’re facing mounting costs and medical bills after a car accident, a lawyer may be able to assist in lowering the pressure. They can field calls from payment collectors— and, once the legal process begins, can help you pursue financial compensation.
Your insurance company is not offering you enough money
All too often, insurance companies fail to give accident survivors fair offers for compensation. A car accident attorney can communicate with your insurance company on your behalf and demand fair payment.
You cannot work after your car accident
The time after a car crash can be confusing and stressful enough. To lose your ability to work on top of an accident can prove very difficult. Even if you “only” lost a few days on the job, talk to a lawyer. He or she may be able to help you recover the money you missed out on.
The Most Common Causes of Car Accidents
Car accident attorneys have experience handling cases with lots of different causes, and unfortunately, there are plenty of risks on the road. Here are some of the most frequent causes of car accidents.
According to the CDC, any activity that takes someone’s attention away from driving is a distraction.
There are three main types of distractions:
- Manual distractions: Drivers must move one or both hands away from the wheel (grabbing a phone, eating food, reaching to the back of the vehicle)
- Visual distractions: Drivers must divert their eyes from the road (in-vehicle entertainment, passengers)
- Cognitive distractions: Drivers must shift their mental focus away from driving (talking, daydreaming)
Driving under the influence
Everyone knows that it is dangerous to drive under the influence. Whether it’s alcohol, cannabis, or other drugs, plenty of substances can make it impossible to drive safely.
- BAC 0.02: Some body warmth, changes in mood, some loss of judgment
- BAC 0.05: Impaired judgment, less alertness, exaggerated behavior
- BAC 0.08: Impaired judgment, reasoning, self-control, muscle coordination, and memory
- BAC 0.10: Slowed thinking, slurred speech, very slow reaction time
- BAC 0.15: Extreme loss of balance, vomiting, minimal or no muscle control
Driving under the influence of cannabis
Even in states where cannabis is considered legal, it is illegal to drive while under the influence of the drug.
- Reduces someone’s reaction time
- Changes peoples’ judgment
- Makes someone 25 percent more likely to get into an accident
Driving under the influence of cannabis has become more and more common. Some studies indicate that over 10 percent of nighttime and weekend drivers have cannabis in their systems.
Driving while tired or sleepy presents a huge danger.
Some causes of drowsy driving include:
- Insufficient sleep
- Medication side effects
- Untreated or mismanaged sleep disorders
If a person falls asleep while driving, the results can be catastrophic; but someone doesn’t have to all-out fall asleep at the wheel to get into an accident. Driving drowsy alone makes it difficult to react, lessens attentiveness, and minimizes a driver’s ability to make decisions.
If you or someone you are in a vehicle with experiences drowsiness while driving, pull over for a short break and a small nap.
Speeding has caused one in three motor vehicle fatalities for over two decades.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding:
- Increases crash severity
- Increases stopping distance after a perceived danger
- Reduces safety equipment effectiveness
- Increases the chances of loss of vehicle control
Speeding is hard to stop because people speed for so many different reasons. In many cases, speeding can feel justified though it never is.
AAA reports that over 70 percent of drivers have expressed significant anger, aggression, or road rage during the past 30 days. Aggressive driving is common; even people who don’t normally drive aggressively may become angry once or twice— and it only takes once or twice for an accident to occur.
Some examples of unsafe, aggressive driving include:
- Running red lights
- Blocking other cars
- Swerving or cutting in front of vehicles
Even though almost everybody will have to drive at night at some point, most people find that their driving abilities are not as sharp at night as they are during the day.
According to the National Safety Council, nighttime is consistently the most dangerous time to drive.
- Sometimes, it’s impossible to see in front of you due to the headlights of oncoming cars
- Busy times can cause road congestion; it’s common for some drivers to behave aggressively in an attempt to beat traffic
- Everyone’s vision is worse at night; it’s harder to navigate and see risks on the road when it is dark
- Certain reckless driving behaviors (like racing) are more common at night
Dangerous or unpredictable weather
Driving inappropriately for the weather accounts for one-fifth of car accidents. Usually, it happens in the rain and on wet asphalt.
The issue with bad weather is that it doesn’t only make it hard to drive. It also makes it difficult for road maintenance and management to access streets. Plus, emergency services may reach the scene more slowly.
Working With Your Lawyer: A Quick Overview
You probably have questions about what it’s like to hire an attorney after a car accident. Here’s an overview of the process.
Finding the right lawyer for you
While you don’t have to work with a lawyer to reach a settlement or file a lawsuit, you’ll most likely find that the right car accident lawyer can help you.
Working together with your lawyer
Your lawyer will have two main focuses: investigating your car accident and negotiating fair compensation on your behalf. You will offer some assistance in this process— you may need to provide information or evidence while your attorney looks for those things elsewhere.
Filing a lawsuit
Many cases settle outside of court. If this does not happen with your case, your lawyer will file a personal injury lawsuit on your behalf. You and the other party in the accident may present evidence. Sometimes, mediation or a trial is necessary to finish out a case.