Do I Need a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
The short answer to this question is â€śYes, if you have been injured.â€ť Many people donâ€™t think they need an attorney because they have car insurance and they expect their insurance carrier to protect them. Despite this, there are several reasons why youâ€™ll still want to contact an attorney:
1) The insurance process is complicated.
The insurance process involves a lot of paperwork and you need to understand what youâ€™re agreeing to before you sign. An attorney can explain the process to you and can advise you to make sure youâ€™re not signing away any of your rights.
For example, if you have a personal injury claim and your insurance company wants you to sign away the right to pursue that claim, your attorney can discuss whether this is a good idea in your case. If the insurance company is delaying your claim or is offering you a lower amount than you may deserve, your attorney can offer advice and support in these situations, too. According to Consumer Reports, 10% to 26% of people filing a claim after a car accident encounter a problem of some type with their insurance company, so working with an attorney may be important.
Thereâ€™s another common complication with claims: Insurance companies have many stakeholders and they are in business to make money. Very often, they can make the most money by taking your insurance premiums and offering low payouts when clients are injured. An attorney with experience has likely handled hundreds or even thousands of claims, which means he or she understands how much an injury like yours may cost in medical bills. An attorney can negotiate with your insurance company to get the best compensation for you.
2) The insurance process is fast â€” and this may not work in your favor.
It can take days or even weeks to get an accurate diagnosis for your injuries, but most insurance companies process claims fast. You may accept insurance money before you realize how serious your injuries are. If your injuries turn out to be more serious than you thought or if there are complications, you may no longer have the right to pursue additional compensation after accepting car insurance benefits. An attorney works to ensure you get fair compensation from the start, so this does not happen to you.
3) You need someone who understands the law is on your side.
You may not understand you have the right to a personal injury claim. Many people donâ€™t realize that they have the right to negotiate with their insurance company for a fairer settlement. An attorney does understand these and other rules and can work to make sure the laws protect you.
4) You will need to pay anything not covered by compensation.
Once you have exhausted compensation, insurance money and any other benefits you may be entitled to, you will have to pay any additional bills. Unfortunately, the costs of medical care and additional expenses related to a car accident are much higher than most people realize. After a car accident, you may need to pay for a hospital stay, at-home care, follow-up treatment, car repairs, car rentals and more. If your injuries are permanent, you may be facing increased expenses for the rest of your life.
Consider that a car rental can cost more than a hundred dollars a week and medical imaging tests can cost thousands of dollars each. People who have sustained serious, permanent injuries such as spinal cord injuries may need to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for their medical costs. What if you also need to pay for a wheelchair or need to install a ramp in your home if youâ€™re injured? Where will you get the money for that?
Keep in mind that if you have suffered an injury you may not be able to go to work, so you may see a cut in your paycheck. If you run your own business, you may be making little or no money during your recovery. Any of these expenses not covered by insurance or compensation of some kind will need to come out of your own pocket â€“ and the costs can be staggering.
According to at least one study, about two million Americans each year file for bankruptcy because of unexpected medical costs â€” making medical expenses the leading cause of bankruptcy in the United States. According to that same study, even Americans with insurance are vulnerable to medical-cost-related bankruptcy. Itâ€™s no surprise. In Delaware, the minimum limits for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage are $15 thousand for one person and $30 thousand for multiple-passenger car injuries. PIP is the no-fault coverage paid out for medical expenses and other costs. This means that in a car accident, some Delaware drivers may only be given $15 thousand for their medical expenses â€” even if their medical costs end up being much more.
When people canâ€™t afford to pay their bills, severe financial distress can follow. According to NerdWallet, about 11 million people will use their credit cards to pay for medical bills while 15 million people will clear out their savings accounts and 10 million will not be able to pay for rent, food and other basics because of their medical bills. The same source estimates that 25 million people cannot afford their medication and may be delaying their medication or taking less than the prescribed amount simply because they cannot afford it. No one should have to make the choice between quality medical care and paying for food.
Rahaim & Saints has worked with many people who are worried about paying the bills after a car crash in Delaware. We always tell our clients that there are choices and options after a collision. If youâ€™re worried about bankruptcy and medical costs or other legal matters related to your injury, contact Rahaim & Saints to explore your options for compensation and claims.
5) You donâ€™t want to be accused of causing a car accident.
Having an at-fault accident on your record can hurt your driving record and even your employment options if your job requires you to drive. Being accused of causing an accident can also cause your insurance rates to go up. An attorney can represent you and can investigate the cause of an accident if this has happened to you and you need to clear your name.
If you have been accused of dangerous driving or a DUI, the consequences can be even more serious. You may face criminal charges, fines and even time in jail. You may lose your license and your ability to drive to work or even your freedom. If you have been accused of a DUI or other traffic offense, an attorney can examine the evidence against you. If it was illegally gathered or if breathalyzer or other tests were incorrectly administered, you can seek to have the charges against you dropped. In other cases, you may be able to reduce the charges.
Should I Get a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
There are several signs that you may need to talk to a car accident attorney after your collision:
- â€˘ You donâ€™t understand the insurance papers you are given to sign
- â€˘ Anyone wants you to sign documents you donâ€™t understand
- â€˘ You have been injured
- â€˘ You are headed to court
- â€˘ Your injury may have been caused by a mechanical defect
- â€˘ Your accident happened while you were working or while in a car owned by your company
- â€˘ Someone was killed or seriously injured in the accident
- â€˘ You have been accused of DUI, dangerous driving or a traffic offense
- â€˘ You have been accused of causing the accident
- â€˘ The accident was complex (because it involved a commercial vehicle, multiple injuries or many parties)
In general, it is safest to err on the side of caution and contact an attorney. At Rahaim & Saints, we understand that the process can be overwhelming and confusing. Therefore, we offer a free consultation. If you have been in a car accident anywhere in Delaware, contact us and we can sit down together to talk about what has happened. We can help you understand whether you need an attorney and what an attorney may be able to do for you.
What to Do After Getting Into a Car Accident
If you have been in a car accident, your first priority should be to get medical help for yourself and for anyone else who may have been injured. Prompt medical attention can save lives, so never hesitate to get a medical evaluation.
Your second priority should be to gather evidence about the collision. Take photos at the accident scene, get the contact information of everyone who was there, and exchange insurance information. Contact the police to file a report. Contact your insurance company promptly to file a claim. Lots of evidence will help you, especially if you decide to go to court or if there is any question about what led to the crash.
A priority after your accident is getting legal advice and representation. If you are accused of drunk driving or of causing a car accident, you should not speak to anyone until you speak to a defense attorney. An attorney can work to ensure you arenâ€™t made an example of. An attorney can work to recover your right to drive and can work to get you into an addiction program or other program rather than into a long-term jail sentence. Even if youâ€™ve made a mistake, an attorney is in your corner to make sure you get a chance at rebuilding your life.
If you have been injured in a car accident through no fault of your own, you also need legal assistance to start rebuilding your life. Often, getting fair treatment from insurance companies and securing fair compensation determines how easily you recover. With good compensation, you can pay for the care and medical treatment you may need to make the fullest recovery possible.
When to Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident
Itâ€™s important to contact a car accident attorney as soon as possible after your traffic accident. The reality is simple: Your claim or case starts as soon as the accident happens. The things you say immediately after the accident matter. The trace evidence possibly washed away within an hour after the crash may be crucial to your case. Witnesses will start to forget the details almost right away. Working with an attorney at once ensures several things:
- â€˘ An attorney can swing into action at once to secure and protect evidence.
- â€˘ Attorneys can give you advice about your claim and about what you should or should not say to police, insurance companies and others.
- â€˘ It can ensure an attorney reviews any documents you need to sign and any statements you need to make.
- â€˘ If you have been accused of drunk or dangerous driving, an attorney can protect your rights and seek to protect your future.
- â€˘ If you have been injured, an attorney can start building a case or claim to get you the fairest compensation possible.
Do I Need a Lawyer if I Was in a Car Accident?
In 2013 alone, there were 94 fatal car accidents in Delaware. Many car accidents also resulted in injuries. If you have been injured in a car accident or have lost a loved one in a crash, you deserve answers and support. If you have made a mistake and are being charged with a traffic offense, the US Constitution gives you a right to defend yourself, and your best chance of that is usually working with a qualified attorney.
Even if your case seems open and shut, small details can affect your case and impact the outcome. If you are being accused of causing the accident or if you have suffered a serious injury and need compensation for medical bills and expenses, you need an attorney.
If youâ€™re not sure whether you need an attorney or if you are hesitating, contact Rahaim & Saints. Our honest legal staff can at least give you an evaluation of your situation so you get some facts about your potential claim or case. Our law firm has a team of attorneys with decades of combined experience and a track record of thousands of court wins and settlements. We also work with a team of consultants, investigators and other professionals to help us build strong cases for our clients. Every step of the way, our goal is to offer you support.
We understand that the time after an auto crash can be very upsetting and our entire team will work to make the process easier for you. Since we understand that the process can be intimidating, we offer a free first consultation. There is no risk and no pressure with your consultation, so you donâ€™t have to make any decisions about your claim or your case immediately.
From our offices in Wilmington and Newark, Rahaim & Saints is pleased to work with clients in Bear, New Castle County, Dover, Kent County, Glasgow, Sussex County and all surrounding areas. If you have been in a car accident anywhere in Delaware and need legal support, do not hesitate to contact us.
If youâ€™d like to speak to an attorney about a legal matter, contact Rahaim & Saints for a consultation.