When to Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident

You should hire an attorney as soon as possible after a car accident. Those who wait to hire a lawyer may be vulnerable to bad-faith insurance tactics, lose evidence that is important to the case, and fail to document accident-related damages. If you wait long enough, you may miss the filing window for a car accident case.

Hiring a car accident attorney is an important decision you should not take lightly. However, once you identify the right law firm to lead your case, hiring that firm is relatively easy.

The Serious Risks of Waiting to Hire a Car Accident Attorney

If you do not prioritize hiring a car accident attorney, you risk:

Missing Your Case’s Filing Deadline

Each state has a deadline for car accident victims to file lawsuits. For example, the law in Mississippi and several other states generally restricts your window for filing a personal injury lawsuit to three years from the accident. Some states have shorter windows of one or two years, while others are as long as five or six.

Car accident victims run into deadline-related trouble when they:

  • Fail to realize there are time-sensitive deadlines for seeking compensation after a car accident
  • Do not know the exact filing deadline
  • Become so involved with recovery and personal affairs that they let the filing deadline slip by before hiring a lawyer

When you hire a car accident lawyer, you no longer have to worry about the statute of limitations for your case. Your legal team will work urgently to prepare and file your case while the window is open.

Losing Important Evidence

Evidence from your car accident may not be available for long. Your lawyer will obtain that evidence as soon as possible, but they can’t do so until you hire them. The longer you wait to hire your lawyer, the greater the risk of losing important evidence.

Making a Critical Mistake During the Claims Process

The insurance claims process typically begins shortly after a car accident. A lawyer will ensure that you avoid the many hazards that exist during the claims process and will prevent you from:

  • Making any statements that can harm your claim
  • Facing badgering from insurance representatives
  • Accepting an insurance settlement worth less than you deserve
  • Suffering adverse health outcomes because you’re overwhelmed by the insurance process

It can be difficult to know how much money you deserve after a car accident, especially if you have injuries like whiplash (which may produce late-onset symptoms). An attorney will seek fair compensation from insurers and handle every step of the claims process.

Losing the Compensation You Deserve

If you do not retain an attorney soon after your accident, this decision can lead to a weaker case. A weaker case may prevent you from obtaining all the compensation you deserve.

What a Car Accident Attorney Can Do for You

Creating a concept image for a car accident lawsuit.

A lawyer will oversee every detail of your insurance claim or lawsuit, including strategy. Having an attorney ensures that you can reset and receive treatment without sweating the details of your case.

As you prioritize your recovery, your attorney and their team will:

Complete Their Investigation of the Car Accident

Your lawyer will gain a clear understanding of:

  • How your accident happened
  • The exact cause(s) of the accident
  • Who is responsible for the collision

Causes of car accidents range from driver error to dangerous road conditions and vehicle defects. Once your lawyer’s investigation is complete, they will have all relevant information about the accident.

Organize Evidence in a Logical Manner

Part of investigating your accident will be gathering all relevant evidence, which may include:

  • Photographs of the accident scene
  • A police report
  • Video of the collision
  • Eyewitness accounts related to the accident
  • Experts’ testimony about how and why the accident happened

If any other evidence can benefit your case, your lawyer will gather and preserve it as they prepare for negotiations.

Document Your Accident-Related Damages

Your case will include an in-depth record of your damages. Proof of those damages may include:

  • Your doctors’ diagnoses of all accident-related injuries
  • MRIs, X-rays, CT scans, and other images of injuries
  • Photographs of visible injuries (including but not limited to scarring)
  • Mental health professionals’ evaluations of your pain and suffering
  • Income records that show your lost income
  • Bills for vehicle repairs, replacement of a totaled vehicle, and temporary transportation

Your legal team will obtain all available documentation of your accident-related damages.

Set a Clear, Exact Settlement Value

Your case has a precise monetary value. Your lawyer will determine what that value is, considering:

  • Economic damages
  • Non-economic damages
  • Damages you have already experienced
  • Damages you will experience in the future

By accounting for all damages, your lawyer will be sure to seek all the compensation you deserve.

Negotiate with Liable Parties

Car accident lawyers generally negotiate with insurance companies before taking any legal action. Before negotiating, your lawyer will calculate the value of your damages, review all relevant policies, and prepare documentation of your damages.

Though most civil cases settle, settling is never guaranteed. Fortunately, your lawyer has another option if the liable parties won’t offer a fair settlement.

Weigh the Necessity of a Lawsuit

If insurance companies do not offer a fair settlement for any reason, your lawyer may approach you about filing a lawsuit. Your attorney will:

  • Explain why they think a lawsuit is a viable option
  • Explain the pros and cons of pursuing a lawsuit
  • Solicit your feedback about pursuing a lawsuit
  • Lead your lawsuit from start to finish

The ability to promptly file (and complete) a lawsuit is one of the most obvious benefits of hiring a car accident lawyer.

Take Your Case to Trial, if Necessary

If and when you file a lawsuit, your lawyer can continue seeking a settlement with liable parties. If those settlement talks still don’t produce a fair settlement offer, your lawyer may take your case to court. Allow your legal team to lead every step in the trial process.

How to Select a Lawyer for Your Car Accident Case

Two toy cars collide on a desk, with a judge's gavel, scales of justice, and figures including an accident lawyer in the background. Court law scene.

You may have decided to hire a lawyer, but you must determine which lawyer is the right fit. Some criteria to consider as you review prospective law firms include:

  • Former clients’ opinions: Clients often leave their opinions about a law firm, often on online forums like Google Reviews. Consider these opinions as you evaluate law firms, as there is great value in learning about clients’ experiences.
  • Case results (especially in car accident cases): Many law firms post case results on their websites. If a firm has a long record full of large settlements and verdicts, this may be one reason to consider that firm for your case. You should consider whether a law firm has secured many trial verdicts, as this indicates a willingness to take cases to court.
  • Experience: You may seek a law firm and attorney with many years of experience representing car accident victims. While an inexperienced attorney can still be effective, a resume is often a benefit in the legal field.
  • Resources: A law firm must invest financial resources and manpower in your case. A firm’s size may be an indication of the types of resources it offers, but not always. When completing a free consultation, ask the law firm’s representative what kinds of resources it will invest in your case.

Free consultations are a prime opportunity to learn about a law firm. Before you make the call to a law firm, consider writing down the questions you intend to ask. If the law firm answers your questions patiently and transparently, you may keep that firm on your list of firms to potentially hire.

Your Lawyer Will Demand Compensation for All of Your Accident-Related Damages

The point of a car accident claim or lawsuit is to pay the victim fairly for their accident-related damages. Therefore, your lawyer will evaluate, value, and document all of your damages, which may include:

Medical Costs

Car accident victims should seek immediate medical care, insisting that doctors diagnose all injury symptoms. Diagnosing and treating accident-related injuries may require:

  • Diagnostic imaging (such as X-rays and CT scans)
  • Emergency services
  • Hospital services
  • Surgery
  • Rehabilitation

Disabling injuries can have a particularly lofty medical cost. You may need medical equipment, long-term treatment and rehabilitation, and other services that your lawyer will factor into their settlement target.

Pain and Suffering

Attorneys account for the non-economic cost of car accidents, with pain and suffering being the most prominent. This category of damages can include:

  • Physical pain, including any chronic conditions the accident victim develops
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Lost quality of life
  • Scarring (and any other forms of disfigurement)

The non-visible scars of a car accident can be severe and long-lasting. Your lawyer will work with mental health professionals to ensure you receive fair compensation for pain and suffering.

The Cost of Mental Health Services

Those who need medications, therapy, and other treatments for pain and suffering should receive fair compensation from liable parties. Your lawyer will work to secure such fair compensation.

Professional Damages

The physical and psychological effects of a car accident can prevent you from working, cause you to reduce your hours, or even cost you your career. Such outcomes may cause:

  • Lost income
  • Lost earning power
  • Inability to earn performance bonuses
  • Inability to earn promotions
  • Other forms of professional harm

Your attorney will assign a specific dollar value to all your professional damages.

Property Costs

Your attorney will value the cost of repairing your vehicle, replacing damaged property (including a totaled vehicle), securing temporary transportation, purchasing medical equipment, and addressing all other property-related expenses.

A Wrongful Death

If your loved one has tragically passed away from injuries suffered during a car accident, let a compassionate lawyer help. Your legal team will consider the full weight of your loss, which may include:

  • The loss of a spouse’s companionship
  • Loss of the decedent’s household services
  • Loss of the decedent’s financial support
  • Funeral costs
  • Your pain and suffering (and any treatment you need, such as grief counseling)
  • The decedent’s pain and suffering

You do not need to re-experience the traumatic details of a car accident. Let a lawyer build your case while you work towards recovery.

Your Attorney Will Identify Those Responsible for Your Damages

Automobile collision on the street, resulting in damaged vehicles.

As part of their investigation, your lawyer will determine:

  1. Who caused the car accident
  2. Who is financially responsible for your accident-related damages

These parties may be the same, or they may be different. Those who can be financially responsible for a car accident include:

  • Motorists whose negligence leads to a collision (such negligent actions can include speeding, tailgating, and distracted driving)
  • Motor vehicle manufacturers and sellers who produce or sell a defective vehicle
  • Municipalities that create or allow dangerous road conditions
  • Establishments that overserve drunk drivers
  • Employers whose employees cause a car accident

Often, insurance companies are financially responsible for car accident victims’ losses. Your lawyer will establish liability and create a detailed plan for securing the money you are entitled to.

Yes, You Can Afford to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer

Do not worry about whether you can afford a car accident lawyer because you can. Car accident attorneys make their services accessible by using contingency fees. When a lawyer uses a contingency fee, they:

  • Pay for all case-related costs, including expert fees
  • Do not require any upfront payment from the car accident victim
  • Agree to only receive a fee if they secure a settlement or judgment for their client
  • Do not receive payment if they don’t succeed for the car accident victim

You have been through enough. You don’t have to worry about the cost of hiring a lawyer. Your attorney will take all the financial risk so you can progress in your psychological recovery.

Hire Your Car Accident Attorney Today

The lawyer you need is only one call away. Conduct online research and identify law firms that are qualified to represent you. Once you have identified those candidates, call them to complete your free consultations.

Remember that waiting to hire a personal injury lawyer can have serious consequences. Don’t wait any longer to find the right attorney for your case.