Whether it’s a major wreck or a fender bender, most of us are in a state of shock after a car accident. If you’re in an accident, major or minor, call law enforcement right away. An accident report is the first step in providing clarity, accountability, and protection for both parties. Then it’s time to consider all of the elements involved, including dealing with insurance companies–both yours and the other drivers. An experienced attorney can help you navigate the complexities of the insurance process, handle any traffic or criminal charges and reduce the stress of the situation.
When Should I Call A Lawyer After An Accident?
If there’s significant damage or an injury of any kind, it’s always worthwhile to reach out to an attorney. Here are some of the ways an experienced lawyer can help, whether or not you’re at fault:
- If you are injured, an attorney can help you get the maximum compensation you’re entitled to through the insurance companies involved. Hire a lawyer before you start dealing with any insurance company.
- If another driver or passenger is injured, it’s best to consult a lawyer even if you are not at fault in case of civil litigation.
- If you are charged with a criminal or traffic offense related to the accident, consult a criminal defense attorney.
- If there are no charges, but you may be at fault or partially at fault, consult a lawyer to protect yourself in case of a civil suit.
- The other driver’s insurance company may ask for personal information, including access to your medical records. A lawyer can help protect your privacy and ensure insurance companies follow proper legal protocols.
- If your car needs to be repaired or replaced because of the accident, you may be entitled to compensation.
- If the other driver hires a lawyer, you’ll want legal representation whether or not you’re at fault.
What Should I Do If I’m In A Car Accident?
- Stay calm and contact the authorities immediately. It’s not wise to try to work things out on your own, even for a minor accident.
- Don’t move the vehicle unless leaving it in place creates a safety hazard. State law may also require moving to the shoulder.
- Take photos if you can.
- Don’t discuss the accident with the other driver without a lawyer, and don’t admit fault even if you think you are responsible.
- Contact your attorney and work together to plan your next steps, considering any injuries and property damage.
How Can A Lawyer Help After A Car Accident?
If you’re involved in an accident, an experienced lawyer can help you protect your legal rights and make sure you’re getting complete compensation for injuries or damage. Here are some of the ways an attorney can help:
- Deal with your insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company. Insurance companies are motivated by paying as little as possible, so it’s vital to have an experienced advocate on your side. Filing claims can also be tricky and leave room for error if you’re inexperienced.
- Offer advice on settlement terms. Injured drivers often accept settlement offers too soon before long-term impacts become apparent. An experienced lawyer can help factor future medical bills and other long-term needs into the picture.
- Whether you are a plaintiff or a defendant in a civil suit, your attorney can help collect and process evidence, including accessing and interpreting the police accident report.
- Lawyers can help find and interview witnesses to get a complete picture of the circumstances.
- If you are charged with a traffic or criminal offense related to an accident, a defense attorney will help protect your rights.
- If you are a defendant in a civil suit related to an accident, your attorney will protect your interest.
What Kind of Damages Can I Claim If I’m Injured In An Accident?
If you’re in an accident, the ripple effects can go far beyond immediate medical bills and damage to your car. If you are injured in a car accident, you may be entitled to compensatory damages to make up for things you have lost in a bigger picture. Damages can include compensation for:
- Property damage
- Medical expenses
- Future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Scars or disfigurement
The court may also impose punitive damages if the other driver has been negligent. An experienced attorney will help you consider the case from all angles and get full compensation.
Does It Matter If I’m At Fault In A Car Accident?
Whether or not you think you’re at fault, consulting a lawyer right away is the best approach.
If you believe you are at fault in an accident, don’t admit fault to law enforcement or the other driver. Answer questions truthfully, but avoid offering up too much information and contact a lawyer right away. Contact an attorney before you reach out to your insurance company or the other driver.
If you’re in an accident and are not at fault, it’s still best to consult an attorney, especially if injury or significant property damage is involved. Your lawyer can help you navigate the process and make sure you get the compensation you’re entitled to. Your lawyer can also manage communication with law enforcement, the other driver, their insurance company, and legal counsel.
What Kind of Lawyer Should I Contact After An Accident?
If you are at fault in an accident and there are criminal charges, you need a criminal defense lawyer. Unlike in a civil suit, state attorneys from your local jurisdiction will prosecute the case.
If you are injured, a personal injury lawyer is your best bet. Many civil cases involving vehicle accidents don’t go to trial, but an experienced lawyer can help you obtain a better settlement. As a rule of thumb, the worse your injuries, the more you can benefit from hiring a lawyer. But it almost always makes financial sense to work with an attorney.
The Laurel Brigade Law Group includes top Northern Virginia criminal defense attorneys and experts with a deep knowledge of Virginia personal injury law and decades of relevant case experience. Our team is an invaluable resource in straightforward car accidents and more challenging situations, including hit and run, uninsured drivers, and distracted driving. Our attorneys have the skills and experience to take on insurance company lawyers and get you the compensation you deserve.