Attorneys Answer: When Do You Need to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
Being involved in a car accident can be a traumatic experience. Knowing when to hire a lawyer after a collision can be difficult. Do you need to hire a car accident lawyer if the other driver had liability auto insurance and you did not cause the car crash?
Insurance adjusters may tell you that you do not need an attorney and can handle your car accident case yourself and save money. However, you need to consider the claims adjuster’s motivation.
Insurance companies prefer accident victims to handle their own personal injury cases. That way, when the insurance company makes a low settlement offer, you might not realize that you deserve more money for your claim.
After you sign the settlement agreement, it will be too late to demand more money for your insurance claim, even if the company intentionally underpaid it. Generally, it is in your best interest to talk with a car accident lawyer before accepting an insurance settlement, especially if any of the following situations apply in your case:
You Are Being Blamed for the Car Accident
A common tactic many insurance companies use to undervalue car accident claims is to shift some of the blame for the cause of the crash to the victim. Georgia’s modified comparative negligence law reduces your compensation for damages by your percentage of fault for the cause of the accident.
Therefore, if you were 25% to blame for the cause of the car wreck, your compensation is reduced by 25%. However, if you were 50% or more to blame for the cause of a car accident, you cannot receive any money for your damages.
What you say after a car accident can be used to allege contributory fault. Therefore, it is best to speak with a personal injury attorney before talking to an insurance adjuster. Claims adjusters ask leading questions so they can intentionally misinterpret your responses to lower the value of your claim.
Time Is Running Out to File a Lawsuit
The statute of limitations to file a car accident lawsuit in Georgia is usually two years from the accident date. However, there are exceptions to the rule.
Insurance companies may drag out a case for several reasons. They may want to wear you down so that you accept a low settlement offer. They may want to allow the statute of limitations to expire so that you cannot file a lawsuit.
Call a lawyer immediately if the insurance company fails to respond to your claim or appears to be dragging out the case.
You Do Not Know the Value of Your Damages
Most car accident victims can recover compensation for monetary losses, pain, and suffering.
Examples of economic damages include:
- Cost of medical treatment
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Medical bills for physical, occupational, and other therapies
- Loss of income and benefits
- Property damage
- Personal care and household services
- Diminished earning capacity
- In-home and long-term nursing care
The value of your economic damages is the total of all expenses and costs you incurred because of the car accident and your injuries.
In addition, you should receive compensation for the pain and suffering you experienced.
Examples of non-economic damages include:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Mental anguish
- Physical pain
- Decrease in quality of life
- Permanent impairments and disabilities
- Emotional distress
- Disfigurement and scarring
The value of non-economic damages is more difficult to calculate because they are subjective. There is not a standard formula insurance companies or juries must use. However, a skilled accident attorney understands how to use the evidence and facts to develop a compelling argument for maximum compensation.
The insurance company always tries to undervalue damages. If you do not know what damages you are entitled to or the value of your damages, the insurance company will use that against you. Consult an attorney to ensure you receive a fair amount for your car accident claim.
The Insurance Company Denied Your Claim
Contact a car accident lawyer immediately if the insurance company denies your claim. The insurance company could be acting in bad faith. If so, you might have one or more options for recovering compensation for your injuries and damages.
You Sustained a Permanent Impairment
Catastrophic injuries can often result in lifelong disabilities and impairments. If so, the at-fault party might be liable for future damages. Future damages can include ongoing medical expenses, future lost wages, and continuing pain and suffering.
However, proving that you sustained permanent impairments can be challenging. It might require hiring medical experts and specialists to evaluate your condition. Also, you might need assistance from economists and financial professionals to estimate the amount of future damages.
A personal injury law firm has the resources to hire expert witnesses in personal injury cases. Experienced car accident attorneys also understand the evidence required to prove a claim for future damages.
A Government Entity Is Involved
You should immediately hire a car accident lawyer if you are involved in a collision with a government employee or vehicle.
The rules for suing the government are different from suing individuals. The government is protected from lawsuits by sovereign immunity, which is generally waived in car accident cases. However, you need an attorney to determine whether you have a claim, but you do not have much time.
The deadlines for filing claims against a government agency are accelerated. You could have as little as six months to file a notice of claim to protect your right to file a lawsuit.
The Accident Involved a Commercial Vehicle
Accidents involving semi-trucks, 18-wheelers, and other commercial vehicles are complex personal injury cases. These cases generally involve multiple parties. There could also be issues that involve federal regulations that govern commercial trucks.
Furthermore, truck accidents cause catastrophic injuries and permanent impairments. You could sustain millions of dollars in damages.
Trucking companies and their insurance providers have endless resources to fight these claims. Hiring a lawyer to represent you evens the playing field by putting the law firm’s resources and skills on your side.
Protect Your Best Interests by Seeking Legal Advice After a Tifton Car Accident
The automobile insurance company protects its best interest by limiting liability for claims. The at-fault party does not want to be responsible for a financial claim, so they will do whatever they can to avoid liability for your damages.
However, a car accident lawyer has only one priority: protecting your best interest.
It costs you nothing to talk with a car accident lawyer. Therefore, you have nothing to lose. However, you could have much to gain. Contact an experienced car accident lawyer if you’ve been in a collision and see how they can help you.