There is never a good time to get into a car accident. Everybody knows that. It’s an obvious fact. Unfortunately, a lot of people know this from experience as well. If you have been in an automobile accident, even a minor one, you might have thought to get an attorney. This is sometimes a good decision, and sometimes not. It all depends on the specific circumstances.
All Accidents Are Not Created Equal
There are many different kinds of accidents that do not involve cars. You can slip and fall. Lightning could strike. In the same way, auto accidents vary in cause, type, and severity. Automobile accidents don’t always involve more than one car. Some are the result of nature, intoxication, drowsiness, or car trouble. The list is endless.
Regardless of the vehicles involved, there is a virtual cottage industry of types. According to Owen, Patterson and Owen, the law office of car accident lawyer Greg Owen, there are five distinct kinds of car accident. Each one is exactly what it sounds like:
- Vehicle Rollover: This is when one or more vehicles rolls over in a literal way. The top is on bottom, the bottom is on top. They can be very violent. Often, they are also unfortunately fatal.
- Single Car: This is an accident where damage occurs to only one vehicle. This doesn’t mean another car wasn’t involved at all. Sometimes, someone gets run off the road. In simple terms, it means only one vehicle incurred damage.
- Rear End: Imagine you are at a stop light or in heavy traffic and someone hits your bumper from behind. That’s a rear-end. These are almost always the fault of the car in the rear.
- Side Impact: Heard of being T-boned? This is when one vehicle strikes another vehicle right in the middle, making a kind of T-shape. These are very dangerous and sometimes cause terrible damage and injury, even death.
- Head On: Of all car accidents, this one may be the most terrifying. It is the result of two cars striking one another traveling in opposite directions.
These may all sound like a catastrophic event. Of course, some are. That said, a minor accident can involve many of these in some way. Knowing the specifics of your own case will only help you make a solid decision.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
There is one rather easy way to answer the question of whether to “lawyer up”. Were you or someone else involved injured in any way? If the answer to that specific question is yes, you might want to get an attorney to represent your case in court. But, it isn’t quite that simple.
As accidents go, so do injuries. It is a sad fact that there are countless ways to get hurt during a car crash. Further, the injury itself may not even be the worst part. If you are unable to work as a result of the injuries sustained, that is a large problem in and of itself.
There are three major considerations bearing on whether an injury needs an attorney. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) lists three in particular. First, the type of injury is paramount, but we have already covered that. Second, you need to consider the length of recovery time required. Last, there is the unfortunate fact of medical expenses, which can be quite exorbitant. If one or more of these applies to you, consider hiring a personal injury lawyer.
On top of these scenarios, there are many accident causes that might need legal action. CarInsurance.org lists several of these situational types. Accidents that involve faulty auto parts, drunk drivers, or road construction are some. A crash that includes a pedestrian or someone on a bike or motorcycle is another.
If you decide you want to hire a lawyer, do your research and pick one with a good track record. They will then help build your case against the party in question. It might involve insurance companies, another motorist, or even the local government.
Your attorney should also walk you through settlement options. Insurance companies want nothing more than to stay out of trials. It’s expensive. If they can settle with you out of court for a small sum, they’re likely to do it, according to CarInsurance.org. They go on to say, “If you hire an attorney, he or she will be able to determine if it is best to try to settle out of court. If the case goes to court…a judge or a jury” will decide what financial reward, if any, is appropriate.
A lot of personal injury attorneys that work in auto accidents do not ask for payment upfront. They may not even ask for payment at all if your side doesn’t win the case. That’s a win-win for you!
All in all, you should base your decision to hire an attorney on the facts. Every accident is different and unique. In the event that you are a part of one, consider everything that we have discussed here and then make the call.
Also, take a look at this video by Injury Claim Coach. It’s titled “13 Mistakes to Avoid When Negotiating an Auto Accident Settlement”. They walk through many things not to do after an accident, which is very helpful, especially if it’s your first time.
Last, while this book isn’t about personal injury attorneys, it is a big help. Crash Course: A Self-Healing Guide to Auto Accident Trauma and Recovery is its title. It is well reviewed on Amazon and may assist you with the emotional effects of an auto accident.