Should I Get a Lawyer for a Car Accident That Wasn’t My Fault?

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you may not be sure what to do, or you may think your insurance company will automatically take care of everything for you. The truth is that there’s only one person who gets paid to put your interests first after a car accident, and that’s a car accident lawyer. You aren’t required to get a lawyer for a car accident that wasn’t your fault, but it can be a good idea to do so.

Should I Get a Lawyer for a Car Accident That Wasn’t My Fault?

Whether you should get a lawyer often depends on how serious your car accident was. People frequently settle minor fender benders through insurance or even without going through insurance at all. The more you have at stake, the more you have to lose by not being aware of what compensation you’re entitled to, what your legal rights are, or what mistakes could hurt your case. Determining who is at fault for an accident is only one part of the case. There are several other reasons you should consider hiring a car accident lawyer.

You Don’t Have Time to Handle a Claim on Your Own

If you already have a busy life, you may simply not have time to deal with your car accident claim or even to figure out what you need to do. You may need to go to doctors’ appointments as well as get your car fixed. The more time you miss from work, the more time you’ll spend trying to catch up. You may also start falling behind on family obligations.

The job of your car accident lawyer is to make your accident claim their problem. Your lawyer will help to gather evidence, negotiate with the insurance company, and do other work preparing your case so you can get back to your normal routine.

The Insurance Company Isn’t Being Fair

Even your own insurance company may try to fight you on paying the full value of your claim. Even though your insurance policy is a contract that entitles you to be paid according to the coverages that you have, paying claims can reduce an insurance company’s profits. They may unreasonably deny claims for lack of documentation, undervalue your claims, or fight you on the language of your insurance policy. Once you agree to an insurance settlement, you often lose the right to collect additional compensation if you find out later that your expenses were higher than you thought they would be.

Your car accident lawyer works only for you and gets paid only if they recover compensation for you. They are the only person who has an interest in helping you get the maximum compensation you’re entitled to under the law.

Your Losses Exceed The Available Insurance Coverage

In a serious accident, the medical expenses often far exceed what most people carry in insurance coverage. You have to collect any losses above the insurance policy limits directly from the other party. That will often mean suing them or at least starting the process of a lawsuit in order to convince them to settle.

There is a Dispute about Fault

Just because you don’t think an accident was your fault, this doesn’t mean that everyone else will see it that way. There may not be enough evidence to show what happened; the police report might contain a mistake; or the other party could outright lie. There is a reason many cases go to trial, have lengthy settlement discussions, or aren’t immediately resolved by the insurance adjuster.

Some cases also have legal issues that may go against what many people think is common sense. For example, many people mistakenly believe that a driver who stops quickly is responsible if they get rear-ended, rather than the driver who was following too closely.

The role of a car accident attorney is to help you sort out all of the legal and factual issues and present your case to the court.

What to Do After a Car Accident That Wasn’t My Fault

If you’ve been involved in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, it’s important to act quickly. There are several steps you need to take to preserve your right to receive full compensation.

  • You need to file a formal accident report with the DMV within ten days of the accident if there was no police report.
  • You should submit all insurance claims within 30 days. Some types of claims have up to 90 days for you to submit them, but being early is better than being late because you made a mistake about which deadline you need to follow.
  • You have up to three years to file a lawsuit for your car accident.

Keep in mind that the longer you wait, the harder it may be to gather evidence and the less time your attorney will have to prepare your case. If you try to handle your accident on your own and miss steps or make mistakes, it could hurt your chances of recovering in a way your car accident lawyer won’t be able to fix. Therefore, it can be a good idea to talk to a lawyer as soon as you get home from your accident or as soon as you are able to.

Get Help from a Car Accident Lawyer

If you’re not sure if you should get a lawyer for a car accident that wasn’t your fault, you should know that you have no obligation just because you talk to a lawyer. You can schedule a free consultation to learn about how a lawyer can help you by calling Kaplan Lawyers at (516) 399-2364.

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