Without planning ahead of time, a car accident can leave you not only disoriented but disadvantaged—standing on the side of the road wondering “how did this happen?” while onlookers snap pictures of the scene, answering questions from policemen with little idea of how those answers might affect you in the future.
Being the victim of a car accident is never something you plan on. Because of that, when you are involved in a car crash, it can be very difficult to discern how to handle your situation.
Be advised: what you do immediately following an accident, and when you get home will play a role in getting your life back on track.
That is why it’s important to understand the best order and procedure for dealing with a car accident before you are ever involved in one.
And if you have already been in a car accident, it’s OK, you’ve come to the right place for answers and help with your questions.
When Should I Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident?
For many people, the idea of hiring an attorney comes as an afterthought to their car accident. Your first concern should be your health and addressing any aches and pains, particularly if those pains involve the head, neck or spinal column.
Once treated by medical professionals, it is often natural to feel anxiety over the damage to the vehicle, and worry over how the insurance companies will battle out the issue of fault.
Often, if fault is settled mainly on the other party in the car accident, many people will breathe a sigh of relief and move forward. For most people, in fact, the idea of hiring an attorney after a car accident only occurs if they are found at fault.
The truth is that you are best served by speaking with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney immediately after being involved in an accident. While it might not be possible to speak with an attorney in the moments following your accident, it is vital that you consult an attorney before speaking with the other party in the accident or with an insurance company, whether yours or the other party’s.
By consulting an attorney as soon as possible after a car accident, you will be able to gain a better understanding of your rights in the case. This is especially true if you have suffered an injury as a result of the car accident, if there were pedestrians or other vehicles involved in the accident, or if there was any preexisting problem or confusion with your vehicle insurance policy.
Be assured that you are NOT obligated to hire any attorney after you have consulted him or her. In fact, many people find it valuable to consult more than one attorney after a car accident to gain several opinions as to their situation and their rights.
The essential thing is to understand your rights before you begin the process of negotiating liability. Once you start interacting with insurance companies, it can be very difficult to hold your ground and ensure that your situation is treated justly.
How Do I Hire the Right Attorney?
Looking for the right attorney after a car accident is a lot like looking for the right doctor—you have to be able to trust him or her with your case.
As with physicians, referrals go a long way toward finding the right attorney to help with your case. You can get started by asking family, friends and coworkers about attorneys they have worked with in the past. If one of them has a lawyer they trust, even if he or she does not specialize in personal injury, that attorney may be able to point you in the direction of a colleague who can help you.
When choosing an attorney after a car accident, keep in mind that big claims of financial compensation are not always a good sign of a trustworthy attorney. Instead, first try to find out how many years they have been in personal injury practice, and how many cases of personal injury related to car accidents they have handled.
In the end, the attorney you are best suited to hire is one who has demonstrated they are knowledgeable and make you feel comfortable.
Should I Keep Notes of My Case?
It’s a good idea to make notes about the details of your own case, including details of injuries you suffered, questions or confusion about your insurance policy, and any interactions you may have had with the other party in the accident, with law enforcement or with insurance companies prior to the consultation. This will help you focus your consultation and make sure that you get the answers you need to make a good decision about the attorney.
Questions to ask when hiring an attorney after an accident
Here are just a few of the main questions that can help in determining whether or not to hire a car accident lawyer after a collision:
- How many car accident lawsuits do you pursue each year? In how many of them do you settle versus take to trial?
- Do you have an emphasis in car accident injury cases that are similar to mine? (List any injury symptoms or special circumstances of your case)
- What are the advantages and disadvantages in my case?
- What is your style in pursuing a car accident case? Will you give me direction or will you expect me to make decisions on my own?
- Can I contact you directly with questions or follow-up?
- Do you anticipate that anyone else will be involved in pursuing my case (such as other attorneys, physicians, vehicle experts, etc.)?
- Do you only charge me a fee if you win the case?
- What is your approach/philosophy in these kinds of cases?
- Do you have past clients of car accident cases that I can contact for a reference?
After having asked your questions and spoken with the attorney, take some time to think about how the consultation felt for you. Don’t consider only whether the attorney seemed to think you had a right to financial compensation. Consider whether the attorney seemed professional, courteous, and knowledgeable about your case. If they mentioned a possible amount for financial compensation, make sure that you also know how much of that amount you would keep and how much would go toward their fee (and other possible expenses in the case).
In the moment that they happen, car accidents cause one kind of pain that, in most situations, can be swiftly dealt with. The suffering involved with endless litigation, haggling with insurance companies, waiting on repairs to your vehicle and the drain to your financial resources can go on long after the accident.
Hiring a car accident lawyer should be an easy process as their job is to help you get your life back on track, easing you of the burden of insurance companies and page after page of paperwork.
If you or someone you love has been involved in a car accident and would like to speak with one of our accident attorneys in Connecticut, you can contact us for a free consultation. There is no obligation to hire the firm unless you feel confident we can recover on your behalf.