1. Accident Scene Statement
The police will visit the scene of the accident to take your statement and prepare a report. You should be careful regarding the kind of statement you make at the stage since it will be used as evidence later in the case. It is not advisable to admit fault at this point. If you are not sure about what to say, get in touch with an auto accident attorney to avoid making any mistake early in the case. The fault may initially appear clear to you based upon your perspective, but sometimes things are not as clear as you think. Maybe something happened that you are not aware of or didn’t see and this can change the legal outcome of the case. Sometimes independent witnesses may have something to add that you could not have known and therefore it’s best not to admit fault or assign fault right away.
2. Seek Medical Care If You Have Sustained Injuries
If you sustained an injury or injuries during the accident, you need to seek medical care before you start following up on your claim. It is essential to find medical care and treatment to get a doctors diagnosis of your injuries and condition as well as a detailed doctor’s report. Once surgery is done, ensure that you keep all medical statements, bills, and pictures, which together with the doctor’s story will be used as evidence in your case. It has been said that a picture is worth a 1,000 words and that is true when it comes to memorializing the injuries in a personal injury case. This includes damage to your property as well. Juries and judges place a lot of weight on what they see in property damage and personal injury photos as they should. Sometimes things like this are common sense, so when the fighting starts over reports and what the doctors have to say, pictures can help quite a bit.
3. Get in Touch with Your Insurance Company
One common mistake that people make after being involved in a car accident is taking too long before getting in touch with their insurance company. The quicker you contact your insurance provider, the higher your chances of receiving compensation for the damage. If you contact your insurance provider early enough, they will have sufficient time to investigate the case before evidence is destroyed and it is an excellent way to ensure prompt compensation. The insurance company and infinite resources are available to investigate claims, take pictures, interview witnesses, locate people, etc. So if you tell them timely about a claim they can assist in many cases. However, if speaking to the offending insurance company about a car accident, we suggest limited communication and letting your lawyer handle that. Also, refrain from giving the offending insurance company any recorded statement. They will only endeavor to use that against you down the road.
4. Don’t Give a Statement to the Other Driver’s Insurance Company
A claims adjuster for the other driver is likely to be assigned to your claim, and he/she will usually request permission to take a written or recorded statement from you. It is generally not advisable to speak with the other driver’s insurance adjuster because the statements you make to the other driver’s insurance company have serious potential to prejudice your claim. That is to say, whatever you say to them in a recorded statement can be transcribed into a statement and used against in you in court. Thus if you answer a question without understanding the implications of the questions, or don’t understand exactly what is being asked, your answer will be used against you despite the miscommunication. Also, insurance adjusters are pros at their job; they know how to ask vague questions and then spin your answer around to what they are looking for. You may not even be aware they are doing it. It’s important not to make this novice mistake.
5. Get in Touch with an Auto Accident Lawyer
Once you have recovered from the injuries that you sustained in the accident, you should hire and retain a lawyer to help with following up on your case. A good lawyer will be able to protect your case and will ensure that you receive the full compensation that you deserve for your auto accident injuries and damages. Also, most auto accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, so you don’t pay until they recover money for you.
A Guide to Hiring an Auto Accident Attorney
We all want to hire the best professional for any service that we are seeking. Just like we want the best dentist, CEO, contractor, plumber, or heart surgeon, a legal professional that has a specialty in and has a proven record of success in handling auto accident claims is highly desirable.
You can use a variety of different approaches to find and retain an auto accident attorney for either your accident claim of a loved one’s auto accident claim. Ideally, it would help if you first generated a list of between 3 and five lawyers for consideration. You can find attorneys on your list by following the three steps below:
I. Use Various Resources to Find a List of Potential Lawyers You Can Hire
If you don’t have a lawyer in mind, you can use various resources to help you come up with a list of lawyers that you might consider hiring. Here are the top resources to help you find the best lawyer to represent you:
Referrals: Auto accident attorneys usually advertise their services, but many also rely on referrals from other legal professionals and past clients. If you know of a person that has an auto accident claim which was satisfied with a good result, you may include the lawyer that handled the matter.
Legal Directories: If you don’t have an idea about where to find a car accident lawyer, you can use a legal directory. This approach helps you save time and will give you an overview of the lawyer’s firm before you make a hiring decision.
Websites: Car accident lawyers need an online presence due to the intense competition for clients. You can scrutinize the lawyers and the firms they belong to by reviewing their bios, types of cases handled, and the professional associations that they belong to.
II. Narrow Down Your List by Taking the Following Factors into Consideration
Local Attorneys Are Best – It might be tempting to hire an auto accident attorney from a different state, but it is best to hire a local lawyer instead. The reason why hiring a local lawyer makes sense is that he/she is well-versed in both state and national transportation laws and knows his/her way around the local courts. A local attorney is also more likely to know the ins and outs of the courtroom including the jury and judge preferences which are important. Also, out of state lawyers typically cannot file suit in Maryland and thus you will find that offers of settlement are lower when an out of state attorney is handling the claim.
Reputation Matters – It is advisable to hire a car accident lawyer that has established a solid reputation in their chosen field of law. Check on the lawyer’s trial experience as well as how successful they have been in past cases. How many cases did they win? Did they manage to obtain large settlements for clients? What do their past clients have to say? All these questions will help you choose a lawyer with an excellent track record.
Specific Experience – A car accident lawyer, might have an excellent reputation, but if he/she isn’t experienced in handling your type of case, you should continue looking. It is advisable to hire an attorney that has been successful in handling cases such as yours in the past. If you are the victim of a car accident, it is important to ensure that your lawyer practices car accident law first and foremost.
Fees are a Priority – Filing a lawsuit usually takes time and can get quite expensive very quickly. It is the reason why many auto accident attorneys offer their services on a contingency basis. It means that you don’t have to pay anything unless the lawyer can get a settlement and court resolution for you. Ensure that you have an understanding of the exact percentage you will incur at the end of your case and exactly how the lawyer’s fees are calculated. It will help prevent any unnecessary surprises upon the settlement of the case.
Personalities – It is also important to consider your lawyer’s personality and how easily you can discuss the case with him or her. If the lawyer fails to return phone calls promptly or appears too busy to meet with you in person, then he/she may not have the time to devote to your case. A good car accident lawyer should be capable of offering the personalized attention that your case needs.
III. Schedule a Consultation
Once you have identified a lawyer that has the right specialization, schedule a consultation to find out the specifics of working with him/her. Start the consultation by discussing his/her experience. Ask him/her about the number of years that he/she has been practicing car accident law.
You need to come prepared for the consultation with a list of questions such as:
How many years have you been practicing car accident law?
Are injury claims your sole or main focus?
How often do your cases go to trial?
How do you typically charge clients?
Will other lawyers be working on my case too?
Have you handled cases similar to mine in the past? How many? What were the outcomes?
How long is it likely to take to resolve my case?
Are paralegals going to be involved in my case? To what extent?
Other Important Things That Should Happen During the Consultation
The lawyer should also be ready to provide an outline of the claims and litigation process and suggest how it is likely to unfold over the upcoming weeks or months. However, a good lawyer should not provide any guarantees about the possible outcomes.
The lawyer should also provide you with a copy of the contingency agreement. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the agreement. Only a handful of car accidents are not handled on a contingency basis. Lawyers typically charge a third of what has recovered plus costs and may charge up to 40 percent if the claim is filed in court.
If the lawyer has confirmed that paralegals will be involved in your case, you should meet them in person. It is also a good idea to find out what professional organizations the lawyer belongs to that are related to personal injury. It would help if you also got a sense of whether the lawyer is truly interested in both you and your claim.
Finally, no auto accident attorney should tell you what your case is worth because there are too many factors that may influence its outcome. The most important thing is to find an attorney that you feel confident has your best interests in mind and has the skills and resources to handle your case.
Have You Been Injured in a Car Accident? Get in Touch with a Reputable Auto Accident Attorney Today!
It can be quite terrifying to be involved in a car accident. You might have sustained physical injuries as well as damage to your vehicle. Dealing with the aftermath of an auto accident can be incredibly stressful, and you might worry about how this is likely to affect your life financially.
A lot of negative things can come out of being involved in an accident that affects your daily life. Whether you need medical treatment, your vehicle has been damaged, or you are not able to work and are losing substantial money, all these can affect your ability to care for both you and your family.
If you have been injured in a car accident or lost a loved one in a fatal collision, you will require a dedicated team of legal professionals and lawyers to fight for your rights. It is essential to find the right legal professionals by following the tips, information, and advice provided in this guide.
If you hire an experienced and reputable auto accident attorney to represent your interests, you will not only avoid costly legal mistakes and receive superior legal guidance but also you will be able to minimize the adverse effects of this experience.
Always trust your instinct when hiring a lawyer. It is not easy to entrust the outcome of such an important matter to a stranger, which is why you always need to be comfortable with the lawyer that you elect to hire.