When should I hire a lawyer?
While you should consider hiring an accident attorney if there’s severe property damage and you don’t feel the insurance company is fairly compensating you, you should always hire a personal injury attorney if you’ve been injured in an accident.
Car accidents—especially those involving bodily injury—can bring about stressful times. Add to that multiple insurance companies with teams of skilled lawyers, and you could find yourself in completely uncharted territory.
Many (though not all) skilled accident attorneys don’t require payment unless you receive compensation, and their assistance helps you:
Handle legal procedures and terms, process paperwork, and make sure you meet any statute of limitations deadline your state might have in place.
Work with a team of investigators who can handle all technical aspects of your case.
See things more objectively.
Car accidents bring a range of emotions—mostly unpleasant—and a lawyer can help you think more clearly.
Find courtroom alternatives, such as mediation and arbitration (see “What Do Mediation and Arbitration Mean?” below).
Communicate with the insurance company’s attorneys.
Experienced car accident attorneys understand these procedures and are better able to communicate with one another. Plus, the insurance company’s attorney is much less likely to take advantage of someone with legal experience.
Receive the best possible settlement.
As mentioned above, attorneys see things more objectively; so, instead of letting emotions get in the way and cause you to accept a meager settlement, your attorney can help you hold out for the highest possible payout.
Prepare for court.
Your attorney will represent you using a legal strategy best suited to your situation—as well as get you the highest settlement possible.
How should I choose a car accident attorney?
When searching for a car accident attorney, look for one who:
Focuses on personal injury or property damage, depending on your situation.
Has experience with your specific circumstances.
Has a good reputation among both other clients and other attorneys.
Shows dedication to your case (i.e. keeps you regularly updated).
Makes you feel comfortable.
What do “mediation” and “arbitration” mean?
Mediation is a fairly informal meeting between the two parties to try to find an agreeable resolution with the help of a mediator.
Arbitration can be a bit more formal meeting, depending on the situation, but during arbitration, both parties can present arguments and evidence to an arbitrator, who then legally decides the outcome.
Generally, attorneys try to take the mediation or arbitration route (or both) before heading to court.
How long do I have to initiate a lawsuit?
Each state has its own “statute of limitations” (a law that determines the timeframe during which you can take legal action), and hiring an accident attorney can help you navigate that timeframe.
How long will the legal process take?
Just as many other aspects of car accident cases, this varies, too; however, the more evidence you have, the faster your attorney can work.