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when to hire an attorney after a car accident

When to Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident—and Why

June 10, 2022

In the first few hours and days after a car accident, you’re going to have a lot on your mind. When you’re attempting to juggle doctor visits, transportation arrangements, meal planning, and home and work schedules (among other things), it’s understandable if contacting a car accident lawyer gets lost in the shuffle.

Yet with medical bills and lost wages piling up, and an insurance company starting to ask questions—or even making offers—eventually you might start to wonder if it’s finally time to consider hiring legal representation to handle your car accident claim.

The truth is that, in most cases, the best choice is to contact a car accident attorney immediately. The earlier you get legal advice and protection, the more likely your attorney can help you preserve critical evidence, protect you from insurance company tricks, and build you a strong case. But even if you’re already well into the insurance claim process, a personal injury attorney may still be able to help you by taking some of the weight off your shoulders.

cars driving across a busy highway
driver distracted by a cell phone

When to Hire an Attorney: Key Scenarios

There’s no law saying you need a lawyer to file an auto accident claim, but you do yourself a disservice if you don’t at least schedule a free consultation. It’s true that sometimes you might not need an attorney after a very minor car accident, without significant injuries, property damage, or missed work time. But for anything more, hiring an attorney is usually the right choice.

In order to get fair financial compensation after a collision you’ll very likely have to negotiate a settlement directly with the insurance company or other driver—and if that fails to produce a reasonable agreement, you’ll need to file a personal injury lawsuit. This can often result in lengthy and arduous legal cases in which the insurance company has the upper hand. But legal counsel can help you avoid many of the pitfalls involved.

Again, we strongly recommend you call us for a free consultation as soon as you are able after an accident. However, the key situations below can be especially challenging and risky for car accident victims who choose to go unrepresented.

You Suffered Serious Injuries

Whenever your car accident injuries are serious, it causes a few complications that may warrant hiring an attorney. 

First, serious injuries usually mean serious medical bills. If you require surgery or hospital stays, these bills add up quickly and may be far more than you can afford. And if you are likely to require ongoing medical treatment, estimating future costs can be especially challenging. The stakes are high for you and your family to get the number right.

Second, when there is a lot of money at stake, it means insurance companies are more likely to fight your claim. These companies are, at the end of the day, for-profit organizations that do what they can to maximize their bottom lines. Insurance adjusters might seem kind and reassuring on the phone, but rest assured: They are not on your side. 

Finally, if you are trying to heal from your injuries, it can make it difficult to focus on your personal injury claim. Hiring a lawyer can allow you to focus on getting better while also giving you the legal insight and experience you need to pursue maximum compensation and hold insurance companies accountable. 

Liability for the Accident Is Unclear or In Dispute

To recover compensation that wouldn’t otherwise be covered by your Kentucky personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, someone else’s negligence must have caused it.

Negligence, in a legal context, requires three things:

  • Someone owed you a duty of care (for example, to exercise reasonable caution when driving and follow the rules of the road).
  • They failed to fulfill that duty.
  • As a result of that failure, you were harmed.

Some common examples of negligence in a car accident case include, but are not limited to:

  • Distracted driving
  • Drowsy driving
  • Driving under the influence
  • Reckless or aggressive driving
  • Defective equipment or vehicle part
  • Insufficient training or hiring practices on the part of a trucking company

Regardless, the point is that you must be able to prove another party’s negligence caused the accident and directly led to your injuries and damages. In many cases, this requires a thorough investigation, which is another reason hiring a car accident attorney can be helpful.

Remember, just because it seems obvious to you that the other driver was at fault for your injuries, that doesn’t necessarily mean their insurance company will agree. In many cases, the other driver will claim that you contributed to the accident (or even were the primary cause) even when you know it isn’t true.

An experienced personal injury attorney will conduct a thorough investigation to determine liability, build your case, and establish your legal strategy.

RELATED POST: Determining Who Is at Fault for a Car Accident

Suffered Serious Injuries from a Car Crash and Unsure What to Do Next?

Call An Experienced Louisville Car Accident Attorney for Help Getting Your Maximum Compensation Today!

You’ve Received a Lowball Settlement Offer (or You Simply Don’t Know If It’s Reasonable or Not)

Sometimes an insurance company recognizes their insured driver is at fault and quickly offers a settlement. That’s great, right? Well, maybe not.

Often, the insurance company’s initial offer is a lowball number that doesn’t adequately compensate you for the full extent of the damages you’ve suffered. They just hope that you jump at the opportunity and take the settlement without question.

If you haven’t carefully worked out how much your claim is worth (in terms of both immediate and future damages), though, it can be difficult to recognize when you’re being lowballed. Not only do you need to understand the immediate damages, but also the long-term damages — including pain, suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and more.

Unfortunately, many injury victims are so sick of the process and so eager to put the crash behind them and get some cash flow that they accept a bad deal.

A personal injury lawyer will have a network of sources to determine your claim’s worth before the offer rolls in. Working with a lawyer can help you come to the right amount and more effectively negotiate with insurance companies to recover that amount. 

Your Case Is Going to Court

If an insurance company refuses to provide a fair car accident settlement offer, your best option may be to file a lawsuit. This does not necessarily mean your case will go to trial (you can still negotiate a settlement in the meantime), but it does set in motion a sequence of events that will end in court if both sides can’t agree.

However, knowing the right time to escalate to a lawsuit is not simple. There are many things to consider, including how low their offer is compared to what you deserve, how willing you are to extend your case’s timeline, how strong your evidence is, and what the statute of limitations is in your state.

Despite the potential drawbacks, we firmly believe going to court can be the right—and sometimes only—option for keeping an insurance company accountable. However, it does complicate your case and we would strongly caution taking a case to court without the representation of an experienced auto accident attorney. 

You Lost a Loved One in an Accident

Few things are as heartbreaking as losing a loved one in an accident. Not only is the emotional toll and mental struggle often debilitating, but it might also cause financial difficulties, including funeral expenses and lost income. 

As with accidents that involve serious injuries, accidents that lead to wrongful death often involve substantial amounts of money. However, you can still expect the insurance company to fight your claim and try to avoid liability for the accident. 

Working with a lawyer who has experience with wrongful death claims can help make sure you pursue the compensation you need and deserve while allowing you and your family to heal. 

RELATED POST: What Constitutes Wrongful Death?

injured person calling a car accident attorney
meeting with an attorney after a car accident

Other Key Benefits of Consulting a Lawyer

Whether your car accident case is worth millions of dollars or just a few thousand, hiring an experienced attorney to handle your legal needs offers many benefits. Here are three of the biggest ones:

Protection From Insurance Adjuster Tricks

Because they are for-profit organizations, insurance companies might posture themselves as if they have your best interests at heart. But in the end, they will aggressively pursue all methods to reduce your settlement.

This can include requiring you to see a medical provider of their choosing in order to lengthen the case and pressure the plaintiff to drop charges. But it also might includes something as seemingly innocent as asking you to give a recorded statement, or acting like your friend in order to get you to admit a share of the blame. Even if you do your best to tell the complete truth as best you remember it, your words may still be twisted and used against you.

A experienced lawyer can help you establish a fair and realistic settlement amount without falling for these kind of insurance adjuster tricks.

Help Gathering Evidence Before It’s Lost or Destroyed

An auto accident lawyer will help organize and compile both evidence you already possess, and evidence you may have missed in the wake of the accident.

This can include the other motorist’s insurance information, police reports, medical records, mechanic reports, statements from medical providers, and a personal statement from witness number one — you. It may also include working with traffic engineers, accident reconstructionists, and other expert witnesses to figure out what really happened.

Sometimes you have a very brief window of time to gather evidence before it’s permanently lost. In addition to debris at the site of the accident, this might also include security camera or dash cam footage, truck computer data, and logs that might be deleted or wiped after a set period of time. If evidence like this exists, it’s imperative you find and protect it as soon as possible—and good lawyers have a lot of experience doing exactly that.

Peace of Mind and Stress Relief While You Recover

We don’t have to tell you how difficult it can be to focus on your legal situation while adjusting to your new circumstances or caring for a loved one. Car accident injuries often come paired with serious medical bills, hospital stays, and sometimes even long-term ongoing treatment—not to mention a significant emotional toll.

The stakes are high—both financially and emotionally. Future medical expenses alone can be significant, not to mention difficult to estimate. Settle for too little, and it might mean running out of funds to pay for your care down the road—and with no way to get more. But ask for more, and the insurance company will fight you tooth and nail.

A lawyer can take many of the primary responsibilities off of you, so your energy can be focused on caring for yourself and those you love without the added stress of a legal battle.

woman gathering evidence after a car accident
an auto accident lawyer gives peace of mind to a car accident victim

Schedule a Free Consultation to Get Started

It’s unfortunate, but the at-fault party’s insurance company has an advantage from the start. By default, the company will have a team of professionals working to drive the value of your settlement down. Luckily, a personal injury attorney that understands the auto accident claims process can help you even the playing field.

You probably have questions about your specific situation. The Louisville, Kentucky car accident lawyers at Karl Truman Law Office can help. For more than 25 years, we’ve provided compassionate, aggressive legal representation for car accident victims. Talk with us at a free consultation to find out how we can help you, too. Start by giving us a call at (502) 222-2222 or schedule through our website.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.