Car accidents are not a normal occurrence for most people so it’s no surprise that there are lots of questions floating around after you have one. Here are the top 7 questions and the answers to take some of the mystery out of the process.
1) After an accident, what should I not do? The big answer here is fail to contact the police or to document the accident in any way. You need the third party unbiased view of the accident that the police provide especially since they will usually also indicate who was to blame for the accident and put it in a report. If you do sue later on, this can be very helpful. Remember also to visit your medical provider as they will also create an independent report of your injuries and their extent.
2) Do I need to have a lawyer? This is a question that really comes down to a handful of factors including how badly your car was damaged or you were injured, how well your insurance company is working on your behalf, and whether the other driver was at fault or if you both shared some blame. If you are on the fence, there is no harm in getting a consultation.
3) When should I contact a lawyer? Ideally, you should contact one as soon as possible. Getting an attorney in your corner, especially if you anticipate needing to sue the other driver, at this early stage of the game means the attorney can seek records and information from the other party far faster than you would be able to get. It also means that the attorney can be on the ground in the negotiations with your insurer regarding coverage for your damages.
4) What should I bring when I meet with the lawyer? You should bring everything that you have that is relevant to the case. This includes the police report, your medical records from your post-accident treatment, the photos or video of the crash and your injuries, your statement regarding what happened, and any correspondence you’ve received from your insurance company. No matter how incidental or small it may seem, bring it.
5) Does having an attorney mean I will have to sue? Usually, the parties are able to work out a settlement through their attorneys and insurance companies such that a lawsuit is not required. However, it is also possible that you will end up needing to file suit against the other driver, their insurance company, or even your own insurance company due to the accident.
6) What should I do if I am sued? Ideally, you should get your own attorney to represent you. While your insurance company will appoint an attorney to defend the insurance company in the claim, that representation may not cover you personally. Remember also that the attorney is looking to preserve the company’s bottom line and they owe their duty of representation to the insurance company, not you.
7) How long does the process take? That depends on what is being done. If you are suing or are being sued, that process can take months, if not years to conclude. If it is a matter of negotiating with your insurance company, the wait may not be nearly as long.