Car accidents happen rather frequently and can leave you with a variety of injuries. After suffering these injuries, you will likely be left with medical bills and perhaps lost wages. Seeking compensation for your injuries is your next step.
You may be wondering whether a car accident attorney is necessary to obtain compensation. Every car accident case is different, and the answer will depend on your particular situation.
Getting a Car Accident Settlement Without a Lawyer
If you are working to receive compensation without an attorney’s help, you will need to follow specific steps and stay organized. The following steps will help you and your car accident claim.
Seek Medical Attention
Following a car accident, seek medical attention. If you suffer severe injuries at the scene of the accident, call 911. Even if you did not suffer any injuries, you should still visit your primary doctor as soon as you can. Some injuries are not apparent right after a car accident, with some injuries taking a few days to surface. Speaking with your doctor in detail may help them diagnose hidden injuries.
Equally as important is following all recommendations your doctor may give you. If they instruct you to seek further medical treatment or rehabilitation, do as they say. All of your medical visits and treatments are well recorded, and these medical records can strengthen your case.
If your injuries are severe, you should at least consider getting help from a car accident attorney. You likely deserve pain and suffering damages for more serious injuries, but the insurance company is unlikely to offer you a fair settlement if you don’t have a lawyer to represent you.
Your health and safety are most important following an accident. However, if possible, gather as much evidence at the scene of the accident as you can. Evidence to collect can include:
- Photos of the accident scene;
- Pictures of the vehicles and property damage; and
- The other driver’s information.
When police are at the scene, they will write a police report. You can obtain a copy of this police report for your records. If there were any witnesses to the accident, be sure to get their information.
Also, gather any other helpful documentation, including medical bills and a record of missed days of work and lost wages. The more evidence you collect, the stronger your claim will be.
Notify Both Insurance Companies
After a car accident, you must notify your insurance company. Most insurance companies require you to inform them of an accident within a certain period of time, generally within 30 days, But it’s best to notify your insurer as soon as you possibly can. Also, be sure to report the accident to the other person’s insurance company.
While you may want to give extensive details of your accident, refrain from doing so. Insurance companies are always looking for ways to limit liability, so they may use anything you say against you. It is best to keep details at a minimum and avoid giving a recorded statement.
Use PIP Coverage, MedPay, and Your Insurance
If you suffered injuries in an accident, you will undoubtedly have medical bills. Depending on your state, you may have personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage. You can make a PIP claim against your own insurance company for payment of any initial bills.
After your PIP coverage has run out, you can then use your medical insurance to take care of the rest. Or if another driver was at fault for the accident, you may be able to pursue a claim through their insurance or file a lawsuit. If you have extensive medical bills, it’s usually best to consult with a lawyer about your options.
Some states also have medical payment insurance, or MedPay. MedPay coverage helps cover medical expenses for you and your passengers in case of an accident. To utilize this coverage, you will need to file a claim with your insurance company.
Keep in Mind There Is a Statute of Limitations
While you may want to handle your own car accident claim, there may be times you will find yourself needing to file a lawsuit. If there is a possibility of a lawsuit, keep in mind that a statute of limitations governs every type of lawsuit. The statute of limitations for a personal injury claim is typically two years after the date of the accident, but it varies by state. After this time clock has run, you are unlikely to be able to recover any compensation.
If you wish to sue a government entity, you will generally need to file a tort claim notice before filing a personal injury lawsuit. The notice period is usually much shorter than the typical statute of limitations. Additionally, the notice period may vary depending on whether you are dealing with a state or municipal agency. It is wise to consult with your lawyer about the rules in your state to make sure you comply with all notice requirements on time.
Is It Worth Getting a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
No two accidents are alike. Therefore, there is no exact science as to when you should or should not hire a lawyer to represent you in a car accident case. Generally, if you feel uncomfortable handling your own claim, or want to be sure you’re getting the fairest settlement, you should consult with a car accident attorney.
A car accident attorney can be a great ally after your car accident. They will handle every aspect of your case, including:
- Gathering necessary evidence,
- Calculating damages,
- Dealing with insurance companies, and
- Engaging in settlement negotiations.
If you’re concerned about the cost of hiring a lawyer, don’t be. Most personal injury attorneys, including those at Gerling Law, take car accident cases on contingency. That means that you won’t owe any fees unless you recover compensation. Then your fees will be paid out of a portion of your settlement or award.
Navigating a car accident claim can be tricky, especially for someone unfamiliar with the process. A car accident attorney will handle your case from beginning to end, helping to ensure you receive a fair settlement.
When Should You Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
After suffering injuries in a car accident, your primary concern should be your health. Still, do not wait to contact a car accident attorney. Because there are deadlines and a statute of limitations, you do not want to hold off on getting your claim started. A car accident lawyer will make certain everything is done promptly, allowing you to feel more at ease knowing your claim is in good hands.
Following a car accident, do not hesitate to contact a car accident attorney as soon as you can.
Consult a Car Accident Lawyer Today
Gerling Law has over 50 years of experience helping clients get the compensation they deserve after suffering injuries. We put our clients first and work tirelessly to reach the most favorable conclusion for every case. Our team offers free case evaluations. Contact us today. We’re here to help you.