When Should I Hire a Lawyer for My Car Accident?

Car accidents are an unfortunate part of modern life. With so many people commuting, traveling, and otherwise out and about, sometimes people’s paths cross a bit too literally. Any drive down an interstate will reveal countless billboards asking if you’ve been injured in an accident and telling you to contact their law firm. While it seems understandable that fender benders do not require a lawyer, it can be difficult to know when a car accident becomes a situation calling for legal experience.

In the case of minor accidents, you should have minimal trouble receiving adequate compensation for damage to your vehicle and small medical bills. The situation becomes more complicated if you suffer a long-term injury, if there is an argument over who is at fault, or if there is significant vehicular damage that is not going to be reimbursed. In general, a good rule of thumb is to contact a lawyer if you are not comfortable prosecuting your own claim or if you have or may have medical bills that run into the thousands.

Injuries from car accidents can take a while to become apparent, or can worsen beyond what you initially think. This is one of the main reasons to hire a lawyer after an accident: if an insurance adjuster offers you a few thousand dollars, it might seem like you are sitting pretty, but a simple injury that worsens and impacts your quality of life and working ability will quickly use up that insurance money and leave you with bills to pay. A personal injury lawyer will be able to hold out for a better settlement to leave you in a more financially secure place.

It is vital to remember that insurance companies are also for-profit businesses that part with money only reluctantly. They are not going to volunteer information about payments or other compensation you may be eligible for, such as emotional distress. A car accident attorney will be able to fight for your best interest and ensure that you are not dismissed by the insurance company.

If you are considering hiring a car accident lawyer, you should act sooner rather than later. A delay could result in you making statements that later damage your claim, and the statute of limitations automatically caps when you can sue. In California, you have two years to sue for personal injury, but if a government vehicle or employee was involved, it is shortened to six months.

Many attorneys offer a free consultation to see if you may have a case and a “no recovery, no fee” policy, which means you only pay for legal services if you reach a settlement or prevail in court. It is generally advisable to contact a lawyer if you are concerned about your auto accident and are unsure if you will receive fair compensation. If you have injuries that may impact you long-term, if liability is not easily determined, or if the insurance companies are not offering an adequate settlement, reach out to a private injury attorney to make sure you receive what you are entitled to.