After a car accident, you may not know what to do or where to turn. A crash can leave you feeling unsettled, and your injuries could prove costlier than you ever imagined. With all the questions and financial pressures that follow a crash, it’s helpful to understand when to get an attorney for a car accident and why you might need one.
The good news is that you can benefit from having a personal injury lawyer on your side in any car accident case. An attorney can handle the entire insurance claim or lawsuit process, explain how much compensation you’re eligible for, and deal with all the other involved parties for you. However, victims with serious injuries and high medical bills may especially want a lawyer’s help, as they can help you make the best financial recovery possible.
Determining the True Value of Your Case
Many accident victims do not know their case’s true worth, which is typically far more than the cost of your current medical bills. Here are some examples of other losses you could include in your potential settlement amount:
- Past, present, and future medical bills: You likely already have medical bills on the table. But if you have moderate or severe injuries, your doctors can probably tell you if you will need more care, like rehab or surgery. These anticipated future costs can be included in your settlement.
- Pain and suffering: Many car accidents leave victims with physical pain, emotional anguish, and other everyday challenges. Don’t dismiss these as a valid, compensable loss. Pain and suffering damages can make up a substantial portion of a victim’s damages, especially in injury cases.
- Reduced enjoyment of life: Like pain and suffering, reduced enjoyment refers to cases where victims can no longer participate in hobbies and other life experiences they once enjoyed.
- Lost income: Physical injury often limits your activities, including your ability to work. No matter how you used to earn income, you could demonstrate how the injury has cut into your normal earnings.
- Reduced ability to earn: Your injury could also limit your earning power over a long period. You may even find yourself unable to return to your old job, which could qualify you for damages.
- The cost of mental healthcare: Some crashes leave victims with mental scars. Treating your emotional trauma costs money, and the liable party may have to pay.
- Other accident-related costs: For example, renting a car to get to doctor’s appointments, or buying a mobility scooter or another medical device. Costs like these add up and should be included in your compensation.
If you don’t know how to value these damages or determine if you qualify for them, seeking an attorney’s help can be essential.
Fighting for the Compensation You Deserve
That’s a personal injury lawyer’s main job: to go after all the compensation you deserve. When you hire an attorney, they typically start by asking questions about the circumstances of your case and your losses. Next, they gather evidence of all your damages. For example, they may collect your medical records, get notes from your doctor, compile employment documents and pay stubs to verify your income, and seek other forms of evidence to show how the crash affected you.
Getting a fair settlement requires a thorough understanding of your eligible damages—and then making a strong case for their worth. Negotiation is often a major part of the settlement process, as the insurer will likely argue that you deserve a bit less for your medical bills or a lot less for your pain and suffering. Hiring a lawyer allows you to hand off the negotiating to someone with a lot of experience in this task.
You Have Serious Injuries After the Crash
Maybe you don’t have much more than a bruise or a bit of soreness after a car accident. If that’s the case, your damages may be few. However, people with moderate or severe accident injuries could have many costs and losses—and they may have a lot to lose if a case doesn’t go in their favor. Even milder injuries sometimes come with a high price tag.
After your accident, you may have required medical treatment such as:
- Ambulance services
- Emergency room care
- Diagnostic testing (including bloodwork, X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs)
- Doctor appointments
- Follow-up appointments
- Physical therapy or other types of rehab
- Medical devices (mobility scooter, wheelchair, etc.)
Any one of these services could cost hundreds or thousands of dollars—some end up costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. What’s more, calculating your medical care costs isn’t as simple as adding up all your outstanding invoices. You should also consider any care costs you’re likely to pay in the future.
Give Yourself Time to Learn the Full Ramifications of Your Injuries
When you work with a lawyer, they will likely advise this about calculating your medical damages—wait. Wait to see if there’s improvement after your initial treatment or if your doctor advises future surgery or rehab. Wait to see if your injuries begin to heal or fail to heal as expected. If you accept a settlement too early and end up requiring more treatment, you can’t go back for more money.
If you have severe or catastrophic injuries, your attorney can work to ensure that you get all the money you need for future treatment. They know and understand that catastrophic injuries often become far more expensive than they were initially in the ER. People with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) or spinal cord injury might need months or even years of rehab, future surgeries, ongoing medications, and more—and you deserve to get maximum compensation from the liable party.
You’re Not Sure if You Should File a Car Accident Claim or a Lawsuit
The financial recovery process following a crash can be daunting. You know that you need to report the accident to your insurance company, but you may have also heard that you could file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. So, what should you do first: File a lawsuit or an insurance claim?
An attorney can help you make that determination. They have the experience to know when you should immediately file a lawsuit or use the negotiation process to seek an out-of-court settlement. Sometimes, injury attorneys file a lawsuit to motivate an insurance company that uses unfair tactics during the claims process. For instance, they may advise that you file suit if:
- The liable party’s insurance company denies your claim
- The liable insurer refuses to make a fair settlement offer
However, filing a lawsuit could prove necessary in other cases, such as if you’re approaching the statute of limitations deadline. This deadline limits when you can take legal action against the liable party after a crash. If you’re getting close to this deadline (see details below), you may need to start the legal process sooner rather than later.
On the other hand, your lawyer may feel confident that they can argue for your damages through negotiations—after all, most car accident cases settle out of court. Filing a claim and negotiating a settlement may be the most efficient, least time-consuming approach to resolving your case.
Multiple Parties or Corporate Entities Could Bear Liability for the Crash
Many car accidents are complex, and the defendant may be intimidating. Your crash could have been caused by several entities. For instance, say a construction crew left debris in the road, and another driver failed to yield and let you merge into their lane to avoid the debris. As a result, both the construction company and the other driver could be liable for your damages.
A corporate insurance policy could bear liability in other situations, such as when a truck driver causes a crash. Many trucking companies can be vicariously liable for their driver’s negligent actions.
In cases like these, you may want to hire an attorney to help you navigate all the legal complexities. A lawyer can identify all liable parties in your case, then use their experience in negotiation and personal injury law to hold those parties accountable for your damages.
You Were in a Hit-and-Run or Uninsured Accident
You may know exactly who caused your crash. Another driver ran a red light, and seconds later, they sideswiped you. Or you were parked at a red light when you suddenly felt a rear-end collision.
Sometimes, accident victims are left at the scene with no sign of the at-fault party. Or they get into a crash with a driver who carries no insurance coverage or limited coverage.
An attorney can help you in both types of cases. They may be able to identify who caused your crash or can assist you with filing a claim or lawsuit once police locate the hit-and-run driver. With an uninsured or underinsured driver, a lawyer can advise you on the terms of your uninsured motorist insurance coverage if you carry a policy. They can also help you seek compensation through your own insurance provider.
You’re Unfamiliar With Georgia’s Car Accident and Personal Injury Laws
The state of Georgia allows you to file a lawsuit against a negligent driver who caused your crash. However, you should know about several laws governing personal injury cases in Georgia.
- The statute of limitations: Georgia law limits the amount of time you have to file a personal injury lawsuit to two years. If you fail to take legal action within this timeframe, you generally can no longer seek damages for your accident injuries—even with the most powerful evidence.
- Modified comparative negligence: If you bore partial responsibility for your car accident, Georgia law says that you can still receive compensation. However, you can’t get damages if you were 50 percent responsible or more. Your compensation can also be reduced by your level of responsibility for the crash. Insurance companies may try to use this law against you, claiming that you were more responsible for the accident than you truly were.
Many other Georgia laws can influence your case and its potential success. The lawyers on our team know state and local laws and how to use them to your advantage. We can also anticipate when certain laws might hinder your case and come up with a plan to counter them to present the strongest case possible.
You Want Guidance and Support Throughout the Legal Process
An attorney acts as far more than someone who just knows the law. After a car accident, they can play many roles in your case. They act as a lead investigator into how your accident happened and who bears responsibility. They also work as your lead negotiator during an insurance claim and your main litigator during a lawsuit.
Overall, your lawyer serves as a guide through what may be one of the most challenging times of your life. With such significant financial stakes on the line, your lawyer can support you through any legal challenges. They can offer advice on every major decision you need to make, keep you updated on your case’s progress, and offer you a neutral perspective.
With a lawyer by your side, you don’t have to feel alone through the complex and often intimidating legal process.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney Today to Learn More
You may not yet know if or when you should get an attorney for your case. However, in most situations, you should seek a free case review from a law firm as soon as possible. A lawyer’s team can listen to your story and explain all your options clearly. They can also help you feel empowered to take the next step and handle your entire legal case for you.
Speak to several injury law firms to determine which firm is right for you. Be sure to look for a law firm that cares about you and offers you personalized attention. If you feel confident and cared for during your first call with a firm, they may be the right car accident attorney for you.