When Should I Hire a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
There are several things you need to do immediately after a car accident to help your lawyer determine liability and establish fault. You need to call the police, exchange driver information, take photos and videos of vehicles involved in the crash, and seek medical treatment for injuries.
In New York, liability is generally assigned to all parties in a motor vehicle collision, and each party will have some degree of fault. This is known as “comparative negligence.” Whether the plaintiff (the person injured) is at fault or not will depend on the specific circumstances of the accident, the type of negligence committed by the defendant, and whether the defendant violated traffic laws.
Gather Evidence – If you have a smartphone, you can snap pictures and video of license plates, eyewitnesses, the damage to each vehicle, and any other relevant information that may prove helpful to your case. A video can also show the exact moments that led to the collision and any statements made by the other drivers.
Meet Legal Deadlines – Many state laws require that you notify an insurance company or government entity of your car accident within a certain period of time. Depending on the type of insurance you carry, these deadlines can be as short as six months or as long as one year.
Hire a Good Attorney – When you’re dealing with a serious injury or a large amount of property damage, it’s important to hire a lawyer who is experienced in car accident cases and has a strong reputation for getting results. Having a good attorney on your side will ensure that you’re treated fairly and have your claim filed in a timely manner, which is essential for obtaining the compensation that you deserve.
Beware of Insurance Companies – In an effort to reduce their liabilities, insurance companies will often offer you a low-ball settlement offer that is a fraction of what you need to recover. These low-ball offers will almost always be less than what you need to pay for your past and future medical bills, your lost wages, your pain and suffering, and any other expenses related to your car accident.
Don’t Sign Anything That Gives the Insurance Company General Medical Authority – This is an insurance industry term that means they will have the right to dig through your medical records to find a reason to deny paying out on your claim. They’ll use your medical records to try to prove that you had a pre-existing condition or that the injury you sustained is not the result of the accident.
A good attorney will be able to explain the legal process to you, and will make sure you understand all the details of your case. They will also be able to advise you of what documents and evidence you need to have available at trial or in settlement negotiations so that they can build your case and fight for the compensation that you deserve.