When Should You Hire a Lawyer for a Car Accident?

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- Pamela Jean Bourassa

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KEY POINTS

  • Hiring an attorney can help make you whole again after a car accident, which means avoiding financial losses and potentially recovering nonfinancial ones as well.
  • Car accident lawyers charge no fees unless they win the case, so it costs you nothing to hire one.
  • You should hire an attorney immediately after a car accident to reduce stress, collect evidence, expedite the settlement process, and avoid pitfalls.
  • The longer you put off consulting a lawyer, the harder it can be to build a strong claim and prove your damages to the insurance company. Without proof, you can’t get full compensation for the accident.

In the immediate aftermath of a car accident, so much remains unknown. You may face uncertainty about the extent of your injuries, your ability to keep working, and the effect on your financial future.

Because the financial outcome of the accident is unclear, many victims assume they can put off hiring an attorney until they know they need one. Many people don’t even talk to an attorney about their case until weeks or months have passed and medical bills start piling up.

However, the main point of hiring an attorney is to help make you whole after the accident, which means avoiding financial losses and potentially recovering nonfinancial ones as well. The longer you put off consulting a lawyer, the harder it can be to build a strong claim and prove your damages. Unless you can prove the full extent of your damages, you aren’t likely to get what you deserve from the insurance company.

Why You Should Talk to an Attorney Immediately After Your Accident

Many people avoid talking to an attorney after their accident because they believe they must first sign a contract or agree to pay money. Others believe that merely talking to an attorney about their case creates a relationship or obligation. These are misconceptions. Car accident lawyers do not charge fees or ask you to sign an agreement to talk about your case, and consulting with a lawyer doesn’t mean you’ve hired them.

When you talk to an attorney, you gain the perspective of an experienced professional who knows how to assess your situation. Consulting with an injury lawyer who specializes in car accidents can give you a good idea about whether your claim is worth pursuing and what challenges you may face in getting fair compensation from the insurance company.

After a consultation, you may decide you want to hire an attorney to handle your claim. You should know that car accident attorneys are among the few in the legal industry who charge on a contingency fee basis. In other words, we won’t charge you any fees unless we win. If it’s free, what do you have to lose?

The Ideal Time to Hire a Lawyer Is as Soon as Possible

If you have been involved in a car accident, you may wonder, when is the right time to hire an attorney? The answer is a no-brainer: as soon as possible! The reason is simple: It costs you nothing to hire a lawyer because it’s free until you win, but the benefits of having one are huge.

First, car accidents are traumatic, and worrying about how you will pay for all the costs can be extremely stressful. As soon as you hire an attorney, you can feel confident knowing that you have someone experienced in charge, so you can rest easy and focus on your recovery.

Second, building a strong claim takes considerable time and effort. When you hire an attorney, the lawyer will do all the work — investigate the accident, gather all the evidence, talk to medical experts, negotiate with the insurance company, and handle anything else needed for your case.

Third, hiring an attorney sooner may speed up the settlement process. When it comes to insurance companies, there are no guarantees. However, having a lawyer to collect and present evidence quickly and negotiate on your behalf can move things along.

Finally, hiring an experienced attorney immediately after the accident can help you avoid certain pitfalls (see below) and get your case started right, which will help you get the full compensation you deserve.

Putting Off Talking to or Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer Can Weaken Your Claim

If you delay hiring a car accident lawyer, you may weaken your case. After all, successful claims depend on strong evidence, and evidence can deteriorate or become lost over time.

Reliable witnesses and witness statements can be crucial in proving your case, but memories can fade as time passes. When a lawyer investigates facts and interviews witnesses right away, these important observations can be accurately documented. This documentation can be submitted as evidence to the insurance company and/or the court and also be used to refresh a witness’s recollection at a later time.

There are many other forms of evidence that may be lost if not immediately collected. For example, vehicle damage or damage at the accident scene may be repaired, tire marks may fade over time, and potential video footage or photos may be lost or overlooked. Hiring a car accident attorney early in the process can ensure that the investigation is thorough and all evidence necessary to build a strong claim is collected.

One Big Advantage of Hiring a Lawyer Quickly: It Can Prevent Mistakes

One of the greatest things an attorney can do is save you from yourself. No one would intentionally try to hurt their case, of course, but most people don’t realize they are making mistakes until it’s too late.

For example, you may post information on social media that is confidential or harmful to your case without knowing how it can be used against you. But, once it’s out there, it’s public knowledge, and the insurance company will likely find it.

Insurance carriers are experts at taking small details that may seem unimportant and twisting those facts into an effective defense. If you talk to the insurance agent about your case, you run the risk of saying something that could weaken or ruin your claim. Hiring an attorney to communicate with the insurance company on your behalf can help you avoid this mistake.

Sometimes insurance carriers will offer you a reimbursement check quickly, hoping you will accept before you understand what your claim is really worth. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize that accepting a small settlement offer can ruin your case because it prevents you from seeking additional compensation.      

Waiting Too Long Can Stop a Case Because of the Statute of Limitations

Under Georgia law, if you wait too long to file your case, you may have no case at all.

For personal injury claims, there is a statute of limitations that starts running on the date of the accident. You must file your legal claim within two years of that date to recover any damages for your injury. If you file past the deadline, there is virtually no chance of recovery because the court will dismiss your claim.

Hiring a Lawyer Can Increase Your Chances of Getting Full Compensation

The costs of a car accident can be high no matter what type of injury you suffer, and those costs are increasing every year. Most people don’t realize the full extent of their losses until much later and may not consider future expenses or noneconomic costs, such as pain and suffering or changes to your quality of life.

You can’t get fair compensation from the insurance company unless you know the full cost of your accident. An experienced lawyer can determine how much your case is worth and prove your damages to the insurance carrier.

Insurance companies are always looking to protect their interests, so they will use every tactic they can to reduce their payout. But good lawyers are used to dealing with carriers and know how to fight against their tricks.

In addition, insurance companies realize that those represented by attorneys have a far greater chance of winning their cases, which means high odds of a large payout. So, carriers are more likely to make a fair offer to settle claims that are represented by an attorney.

Because a car accident lawyer doesn’t get paid until you do, they are incentivized to work hard to get you every penny you deserve. No matter where you are in the claims process, hiring an attorney can get you more compensation. At The Millar Law Firm, we have handled car accident cases for more than 25 years and know what it takes to win for our clients.

To learn more, call The Millar Law Firm today at (770) 400-0000 or contact us online to set up a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

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