Car accidents are more common than you think, and that means injuries and property damage are likely. Even in more typical accidents that don’t end in fatalities, it’s important to rely on a personal injury lawyer to help protect your interests.
In the U.S., an estimated 13 car accidents occur every minute, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Of those vehicle accidents, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 42,915 people died in car crashes in 2021, up 10.5% from 2020. These accidents are traumatic for the victims and their loved ones, leaving them suffering from injuries, lost income and car repair bills they cannot afford.
While U.S. insurance companies offer settlements in vehicle accidents, what they offer usually does not cover all of the expenses incurred by an accident. Such expenses include future costs, lost income and even lingering medical issues. You should make sure that you receive the compensation that you deserve. But when should you contact a lawyer?
Consider these factors when determining whether you should hire a lawyer to represent you after common car accident scenarios.
When you should call a lawyer
While not every vehicle accident requires a lawyer’s help, you should definitely consult an attorney if you suffered injuries or the other drivers threaten to sue you. Consider these more common circumstances in an accident that definitely suggest you will need to contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
- The accident caused significant injuries.
- No fault is clearly established after the accident.
- The accident occurred in a school, work, or construction zone.
- The accident involves a pedestrian, cyclist, or another vehicle.
- The police incident report contains conflicting information, suggesting fault by you.
- Insurance company representatives do not offer clear information and sends mixed messages.
- An uninsured or underinsured person is involved in the accident.
Do minor accidents require a lawyer?
It is likely that a minor accident, such as a minor fender-bender that does not produce other property damage or injuries, will not need the help of a lawyer. But there are times when you should contact a lawyer after a minor crash, including:
- There is significant vehicle or property damage.
- Someone claims injuries from the accident.
- You experience car repair or insurance problems.
How can a lawyer help after an accident?
A personal injury lawyer who is experienced in vehicle accident cases can help negotiate with insurance companies and others related to the accident. They have expertise in evaluating settlement offers, and can identify additional compensation that you are entitled to after an accident. An experienced lawyer will investigate the accident, challenge inaccurate findings in a police report and represent your interests throughout the period after the accident.
Be careful not to reach an agreement too early with an insurance company. They want to settle claims quickly, which could mean denying you future compensation if unexpected issues surface later. If you don’t have a reliable lawyer to consult, you may lose the compensation that you deserve and need.
What not to do after a vehicle accident
A vehicle accident can be traumatic, but avoid these mistakes in those hectic moments:
- Failing to report the accident:You should always submit an incident report to the the police to document basic information that may be needed later.
- Admitting blame:Never say anything at the accident scene or to others later that might be interpreted as an admission of fault. This can cause serious problems later.
- Accepting a settlement:Never accept an insurance company’s offer for settlement without consulting a lawyer first.