Have you been in an accident recently? Whether in a car, truck, on a motorcycle or even walking, if you sustained injuries because someone was careless or negligent, then you may want to consider talking to a car accident lawyer. Typically known as a personal injury attorney, they specialize in fighting insurance companies that represent the motor vehicle that may have been involved. You may feel torn because on one hand you see billboards and advertisements by law firms telling you that you can win a big settlement.
And yet, the insurance companies, yours included, may tell you to not talk to an attorney and they usually want you to sign and accept a settlement offer, telling you that it’s the best you will get. What should you do?
Consult with a personal injury lawyer
It will never hurt to have a consultation with an attorney who handles personal injury claims. You will not be under any obligation to hire them, but they know the ins and outs of the law, they know how to take on the insurance company representing the other party, and they will be honest with you about what to expect because they won’t make any money unless they win the case. They won’t take on a case they feel doesn’t have enough merit for them to be able to win. After hearing all the facts they will explain your options, your rights, and what outcome to expect. You usually will not get that information from your insurance company.
Guidelines to follow after an accident
If you want to pursue a claim against the party responsible for your injury, here are some important guidelines to follow.
1. Even if you think the accident may have been your fault, look for a good accident attorney to consult with. This should be done as soon after the accident as possible. Going forward on your own isn’t something you should consider doing. Besides, there is no cost to hire a personal injury lawyer because they typically take a percentage of the settlement when they win. The attorney can let you know if you even have a case, when the statue of limitations will run out, and what actions you should take next. They will usually advise that you not talk with anyone else about the case, so start by not talking to anyone even before you have your appointment with them.
The reason for this is that the opposing counsel can call anyone as a witness that they think you have talked with, and use their testimony against you. So play it safe and don’t talk with anyone. When giving information to the insurance companies, only give them the simple facts that they ask for, and don’t contribute anything else.
2. You may decide to not file a claim because you think you didn’t sustain a serious enough injury. Unfortunately, many people have done this and then weeks or months later have had serious symptoms surface that weren’t there in the beginning. So don’t assume that you weren’t hurt badly. Even if the insurance company for the other party agrees to pay all your medical bills, what about time taken off from work, loss of income, or hospital bills that they don’t completely cover? And once they have paid your bills, will they come back and pay more for symptoms that come later? Don’t accept those kinds of offers, thinking they are fair and equitable. Very often injury victims don’t know how badly they have been hurt until months after the accident.
Personal injury lawyers are familiar with the types of injuries sustained in different types of accidents, which ones may surface months later, and what long-term effects there may be. It’s their job to protect you against future loss of income due to time off from work or medical problems. You have nothing to lose by retaining an attorney to represent and protect your interests, even if you think you may have caused the accident or was at fault to some degree.
Work related accidents
If the accident happened while on the job or was work related, legal advice is highly recommended. Trying to navigate through a workman’s compensation claim takes someone with experience and understanding of the complex laws that govern it. It takes very little time and usually no cost to consult an attorney after any type of accident. Then, armed with good information, you are in a better position to make the decision about whether to move forward with a legal claim or not, they will help you know if legal representation is necessary for your case.