Being involved in a car accident is a traumatic experience. When someone else’s negligence caused the collision, you could have the legal right to pursue a claim. Filing a claim against the other party’s insurance may seem pretty straightforward, but the claims process can become complicated rather quickly.
Knowing when to hire a lawyer after a car accident is essential. In most car accident cases, you need someone on your side who can protect your rights and help you fight for the compensation you deserve.
At Gerling Law, we understand how stressful and frustrating the auto accident claims process can be. Our car accident injury lawyers have decades of experience helping clients in Indiana, Kentucky, and Illinois resolve all their personal injury claims, including auto accidents. Contact our nearest office to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can help.
When Should You Get a Lawyer for a Car Accident?
Numerous accident scenarios warrant having an accomplished personal injury attorney representing you. The following are some of the most common examples of accidents where our legal team can help.
Someone in Your Vehicle Has Severe Injuries
If you or a family member sustained severe injuries in the accident, hiring an attorney is crucial. Cases involving extensive medical bills or a permanent disability are typically harder to resolve. There’s a greater chance that insurance companies will fight your claim as they have more exposure and financial risk.
Their goal is to avoid paying you as much as possible. You want an experienced attorney on your side who can keep insurance companies from unfairly reducing your claim’s value.
If your accident was relatively minor and you saw a doctor only once or twice, you may not need to hire a car accident injury attorney.
A Family Member Died in the Accident
If someone you love died in a car accident caused by someone else’s negligence, certain family members might be eligible to file a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death claims are typically complex. You need an advocate on your side who understands precisely how wrongful death claims work and can help you get compensation for your family’s loss.
Multiple Parties Involved
Multiple defendants can also complicate the negotiations process. Your attorney can determine who all the potential defendants are and help you hold all responsible parties accountable. For example, suppose you are involved in an accident with a truck driver.
In that situation, defendants could include the driver, the trucking company, and even a parts manufacturer if there are allegations that a defective part contributed to the accident.
Other Driver’s Insurance Denies Liability
In cases with disputed liability, you may need to file a lawsuit to get the other driver’s insurance to take you seriously. It’s not uncommon in disputed liability cases to see the other driver’s insurance company deny your claim outright.
They hope that you will accept the denial and walk away from pursuing the claim any further. Without legal representation, insurance companies know you will have a hard time funding the fees and costs necessary to proceed with litigation.
Retaining an attorney can help get the insurance company back to the negotiating table. If they still refuse to accept any responsibility at all, your attorney can start preparing your case for trial.
The Statute of Limitations Is Expiring
Another reason to file a lawsuit could be that the statute of limitations in your case is near expiration. The statute of limitations dictates how long you have before you are legally obligated to file a lawsuit in your case.
If you are negotiating with the insurance company and the deadline passes, your claim could be barred. Even if the insurance company extended you a settlement offer, they are under no obligation to pay you anything if you haven’t reached an agreement by the time the statute of limitations expires.
The Other Party Is a Government Entity
Filing claims against government entities requires specialized knowledge. Particular deadlines can apply in the claims process beyond just the statute of limitations. If you miss a filing deadline or make a mistake, the government will quickly deny your claim.
The Insurance Company Is Low Balling or Acting in Bad Faith
Insurance companies rely on the fact that you don’t have legal experience or know how the car accident claims process works. Some insurance companies cross the line in unfair tactics and wind up acting in bad faith.
They may wrongfully deny your claim or extend a low-ball offer for significantly less than your case is worth. When this happens, you need a car accident injury attorney who can evaluate your claim to determine whether the insurance company has acted in bad faith.
If you are negotiating directly with the insurance company and are only a few hundred dollars apart, you may not need an attorney. You would lose more in fees by retaining a lawyer to settle.
How Long Does It Take to Get Your Settlement After a Car Accident?
The time it takes to settle a car accident claim varies. Some cases resolve quickly, such as within a few months, while others may take years to resolve. If a lawsuit is filed, it can take even longer.
Once you reach a settlement with the insurance company, the amount of time it takes to receive your payment will vary. First, the insurance company will send your attorney a release of all claims to have you sign.
Once the executed release is received, the insurance company will issue your settlement check. The settlement check will be mailed to your attorney, who is required to deposit it in a specific trust account. Then, your attorney will issue payment to you.
If you did not have an attorney and negotiated directly with the insurance company, they will send the check directly to you after receiving the release. In many cases, the settlement check will be issued from an out-of-state bank, which could take longer to clear.
Assume that it might take another seven to ten days in some instances. This delay will apply if the check is being sent to your attorney as well. Attorneys have a legal obligation to ensure the check clears before they disburse funds to you, pay liens, or cover other expenses.
Even if your check clears quickly, your bank could hold a portion of your funds. Check with your bank to determine if they hold funds for checks over a certain amount.
Should I Call an Attorney After a Car Accident?
Knowing why to get a lawyer after a car accident is as important as knowing when to get a lawyer after a car accident. When your collision involves severe injuries or fatalities, complicated liability, a government agency employee, etc., you need someone on your side who will protect your rights. Calling an attorney early on after the accident is essential.
If your accident involved only minor property damage and no injuries, you may not need to contact an attorney. It could be more cost-effective for you to resolve on your own.
Consult with an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Today
Attorneys understand that you don’t necessarily know when to contact a lawyer after a car accident. Most car accident injury lawyers work on a contingency basis. That means there is no risk in contacting an attorney after your accident if you believe your case could benefit from legal representation.
If you are considering hiring a car accident injury lawyer, please give us a call to set up a no-obligation consultation. At Gerling Law, our team has over 50 years of experience and can tell you right away whether your case would benefit from hiring an attorney.
If you choose to retain our firm, we can begin working on your case right away. Our car accident injury attorneys are eager to assist and help you recover the compensation you are owed.
Contact Gerling Law today to schedule a consultation with our skilled legal team. Remember, Go with Experience. Go with Gerling®.