When Should You Call a Lawyer after a Car Accident?
It’s easy to put things off, whether it’s getting your car tags renewed or fixing that dripping faucet in the bathroom. Sometimes it’s tempting to place dreaded tasks on the back burner. However, there’s one task you should never put off: calling a lawyer after a serious accident.
The moment your accident occurred, a clock started ticking. It’s a countdown to the first financial hit coming your way as a result of your injuries. For most folks, that first hit is a missed paycheck. Then the first medical bill comes in, and there won’t be just one. Pretty soon, you find yourself with a financial problem that you don’t know how to solve.
That’s why it’s important that you call one of our experienced car accident attorneys as soon as possible following your accident. This ensures that our team can collect important evidence and witness accounts that could be lost over time. It also allows our legal team to go to work quickly to build a strong case for you. The sooner you call, the sooner you can get the compensation you deserve for your accident.
Steps to Take After a Car Accident
Immediately after you are injured in a car accident, there are steps you can take to help you collect the compensation you need.
- Call 911 – Call 911 and report your accident. This alerts both police officials and emergency medical teams to the scene of the accident. Your police report and your medical report will be invaluable when establishing fault and liability. Without them, it’s just your word against theirs.
- Gather Evidence – Gathering evidence can be done easily now that we have smartphones. Snap pictures of license plates, eyewitness information, vehicle damage, traffic patterns, intersections, and any other important information that could help your lawyer establish fault.
- Contact a Lawyer – Insurance companies will always seek to reduce their liabilities by offering accident victims a low-ball settlement offer. This is usually a fraction of what you need to recover. Contact an experienced car accident attorney immediately to begin building your case. Remember, contacting an attorney is not the same thing as filing a lawsuit.
What Not to Do After a Car Accident
While it’s important to know what to do after a car accident, it’s equally important to know what NOT to do. Immediately after your accident, avoid making these serious car accident mistakes.
- Not Reporting Your Accident – Sometimes it can be tempting to just exchange information with the other driver and go on your way, especially if you don’t believe you’ve been injured. Unfortunately, some car accident injuries can take days and even weeks to become fully apparent. Always report your accident and obtain a police report.
- Admitting Blame – It’s human nature to apologize – even when we are not wrong. Yet after a car accident, saying “I’m sorry” can be used to show that you admitted fault for the crash. Even if you believe that you were partly to blame, do not admit fault.
- Accepting Settlement – The insurance company will often use a “take it or leave it” approach to pressure injured accident victims into accepting a settlement that is far below what they need to truly recover. Don’t sign anything without first speaking with an attorney.
When Do You Need a Lawyer?
It’s never too early to call a lawyer after a car accident for a free initial consultation and review of your case. No matter how minorly you’re injured, it may be in your best interest to speak to an attorney and review all of your legal options prior to reaching a settlement with the insurance company. However, if any of the following apply to your situation, you should contact a car accident lawyer immediately.
- Crash caused significant injury
- Crash resulted in death
- Crash involved other motorists or pedestrians
- Crash occurred in a construction zone or school zone
- Police report is inaccurate
- Insurance company is pressuring you
- Concerns regarding insurance status or liability
What to Provide Your Lawyer
Make sure your meeting runs smoothly by providing your lawyer with the following information:
- Contact information
- Key facts about your case
- Police report
- Medical records
- Financial documents or medical receipts
- Photos of accident scene or damage
- Witness contact information and statements
When to File A Claim
Once you’ve met, your attorney will investigate all aspects of your case and begin negotiating with the insurance company. Remember, a personal injury claim is different from a personal injury lawsuit. A personal injury claim is between you and the at-fault driver’s insurance company and involves a series of negotiations. At Rainwater, Holt & Sexton, our Arkansas personal injury lawyer are skilled negotiators who obtain maximum compensation for our injured clients.
If the insurance company plays hardball, however, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent party to seek damages. This often occurs when the insurance claims adjuster denies who was at fault for the accident or doesn’t agree with the severity of your injuries. When negotiations stall and a settlement cannot be reached, the next step is a personal injury lawsuit.
What is the Statute of Limitations?
In the state of Arkansas, car accident victims only have three years from the date of the accident to file a claim. While this may seem like a lot of time, three years can pass quickly after a crash. You may be injured severely and focused on recovery and on improving your life. You may be struggling to make ends meet and trying to help your family stay out of bankruptcy after an accident. During this time, valuable evidence might get lost or even destroyed. Contact an experienced lawyer for your car accident immediately to begin building your case and to avoid missing any critical deadlines.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, don’t wait to get the legal help you need. Call our car accident attorneys today for a free consultation. We’re ready to help you get maximum compensation for your injury claim.