Short version: Always get an attorney for anything other than the most minor fender-bender, and do so as soon as possible after the accident.
Longer version: If your vehicle damage consists of anything more than a scrape or dent, or if you have any injuries, regardless of how minor those injuries might seem, retain a car accident attorney right away to represent your interests and to ensure that insurance companies do not infringe on your rights.
A separate, surefire sign you need an attorney after a car accident is if an insurance company other than your own wants to talk to you about the accident, or offers you money as a “settlement.”
Read on to learn more.
What Car Accident Attorneys Do
A car accident attorney’s job is to get you the compensation you deserve when someone else’s careless or reckless actions harm you physically, emotionally, and/or financially. Hiring a car accident attorney does not cost you a dime. The lawyer gets paid by receiving a percentage of the funds recovered for you.
An experienced car accident attorney:
- Investigates your accident to figure out who was at fault;
- Evaluates how the accident harmed you to figure out how much money you deserve as compensation;
- Facilitates access to the best medical care available to treat your injuries;
- Negotiates with representatives of the parties who were at fault, or their insurers, to convince them to settle your claim for an appropriate amount of money;
- Takes those parties to court if they refuse to offer a fair settlement; and
- Ensures, after a settlement or a jury verdict in your favor, that you actually get paid.
Most people, who are not lawyers, cannot do these tasks by themselves, let alone do them at the same time they are recovering from a car accident injury. Lawyers have special training and know-how that non-lawyers lack. Non-lawyers who try to handle the tasks above on their own virtually always end up leaving money on the table, if they recover money at all.
In other words, to be blunt, trying to act as your own lawyer after a car accident is always a terrible idea.
Car Accident Lawyers and Insurance Companies
Insurance companies almost always play a role in the aftermath of a car accident. You probably need to put your own insurance company on notice right away of the accident; that’s a common requirement under auto insurance policies. An attorney can do that for you, but it’s often fine for you to do it yourself, so long as you do not say anything to the insurance company that suggests the accident was your fault.
Lawyers play a much larger and more critical role, however, when it comes to dealing with the insurance companies that covered the other people involved in your car accident. Simply put, you should never try to deal with those insurance companies on your own.
The mere fact that an insurance company that covers someone else wants to talk to you, or offers you money, means that the company thinks it might have to pay you money because the party it insures was at fault in the accident. Any insurance company in that position has one, and only one, goal in reaching out to you: to pay you as little money as possible to make you “go away.”
Speaking from years of experience, it is extremely dangerous to your legal rights to try to deal with someone else’s insurance company on your own. Representatives of those companies are experts at manipulating facts and steering conversations to find any excuse not to pay you. Car accident lawyers know how to navigate those conversations to protect your rights and get you paid what you deserve.
How Soon to Get a Car Accident Lawyer
Get a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. By that, we don’t necessarily mean call a lawyer while you are still at the accident scene (although, we would certainly take your call). By all means, however, after you have gone to a doctor to protect your health, contact an experienced car accident attorney to set up a consultation. The sooner you speak with an attorney, the sooner you find out whether you may have legal rights to compensation, and the sooner the attorney can begin guiding you through the process of covering that compensation and protecting your legal rights.
What can happen if you wait to retain a lawyer? Lots of bad things.
- You could run out of time to make a legal claim;
- You could say something to an insurance company that harms your legal rights;
- You could make mistakes in how and when you seek medical treatment that harm your legal rights;
- You could post something to social media that harms your legal rights.
The list goes on and on. Recovering every penny of compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses resulting from a car accident requires careful planning and informed decision-making. Experienced car accident lawyers don’t just prepare documents to file in courts, they guide you in how and when you should act and what you should say to ensure you do not make a mistake that hurts your rights.
Why Car Accident Lawyers Are Worth It
Even when we give potential clients all of the reasons above for hiring an experienced car accident attorney, some of them still think: Okay, maybe a lawyer could get me more money, but then the lawyer takes a percentage, so I still might be better off trying to get paid on my own.
We get why people might think that, but again, they’re just wrong.
Here’s just one example of why hiring a lawyer for a car accident is “worth it,” even after paying that lawyer a percentage of what you recover as a settlement or jury verdict. One of the biggest challenges after a car accident involves figuring out how much money you should receive for your injuries and losses. Under Nevada law, you generally have the right to payment for expenses relating to an accident, and for harm that you suffered that does not come with a price tag.
Now, it is pretty easy to calculate past expenses, such as medical bills. But how about future expenses? What should you insist on recovering for costs you might need to cover next month, or next year, or ten years from now? Lawyers have years of experience calculating those future costs, and in making sure to account for every possible expense. Similarly, what should you insist on recovering as payment for the pain and suffering an accident caused you? Lawyers know how to gauge what a jury might give you as compensation for those “intangible” harms.
In other words, think of hiring an attorney for a car accident as giving yourself access to an encyclopedia of knowledge about what car accident injuries truly cost over a lifetime. That knowledge, in our experience, always adds up to bring you more compensation, even after you pay your lawyer a percentage of your recovery.
Benson & Bingham
626 S 10th St
Las Vegas, NV 89101