Time can easily slip away. You get involved in work, forgetting to make or keep appointments, and you sometimes miss work assignments for the opposite reason. Even after a car accident, it’s easy to miss important, necessary steps. Perhaps you are too busy recovering from an injury, or you are so overwhelmed with one part of the situation that you accidentally neglect another.
Consulting an attorney is an important step after an accident, and it’s one you can easily miss. You may file your claim with insurance, and, relieved that you took care of it, move on. This situation can easily take a turn for the worst, and if you’re missing legal counsel, you could be left without help or protection.
In this article, we will explore several scenarios that can happen after your vehicle accident. We will explore when you should consult an attorney, how long you have to do so, and more.
CALL RIGHT AFTER AN ACCIDENT
The best time to call an attorney is right after an accident. Of course, if you are hurt, you should seek immediate medical treatment. Once you are able, however, contact a lawyer.
Regardless of your needs, a lawyer can help. You could be the at-fault driver, or you could be the hapless victim. You could have been hurt, or the other driver was. There may be property damage, or both cars could have been unscathed. It doesn’t matter. Having a lawyer on your side could protect you from potential problems. What if, weeks later, the other driver suddenly claims they were injured? Legal representation can shield you from such problems.
A lawyer can also force insurance companies to behave. Sometimes, simply knowing that you have representation can scare them into remaining honest.
CALL WHEN YOU’VE BEEN OFFERED A SETTLEMENT
Insurance companies generally offer settlements after a big accident. The offer seems attractive, and it’s tempting to take this money. However, if you think it through, it may not seem so generous. Ask yourself: Why are they offering you this money? What are they getting out of it?
Insurance companies always operate in their own self-interests. Their business model is built on taking in as much money as possible and giving out as little as they’re able. By offering you a chunk of money, they’re avoiding something more expensive.
They’re trying to avoid a lawsuit. A lawsuit can cost the company more than what they offer in a settlement. First, they must pay their attorney fees. If they lose, they will probably pay you far more than a settlement amount. You can be reimbursed for all your medical expenses, lost wages, and even your pain and suffering. That adds up to a hefty sum of money, money that insurance does not want to pay.
Moreover, they are protecting themselves from future claims. After a car accident, people often feel fine. Once the initial adrenaline rush wears off, they may notice some aches and pains. The next morning, they can barely move. Even after treatment, someone may suffer additional injuries connected to their original one. The same is true for damage to your car. What appears to be an easy fix at first becomes a long-term, expensive problem. By offering you a settlement, the insurance company shields itself from paying you more later.
When you’ve been offered a settlement, call an attorney right away. Let them look it over. They may be able to spot holes in the offer or tricks designed to keep you from receiving your full benefits. Your lawyer may be able to negotiate a better settlement, or they could advise you to avoid it altogether. By accepting a settlement, you may be blocking yourself from future benefits. Your attorney knows if a personal injury suit is a better option, and they can guide you through this process.
CALL AFTER FILING YOUR INSURANCE CLAIM
In the best-case scenario, you can file an insurance claim and never worry about the situation again. You get your benefits, they appropriately cover your costs, and you move on. Even so, you should have an attorney on your side.
The effects of a car accident can last much longer than you expect. Maybe you notice damage to your car or body long after the situation is handled. Perhaps you were originally blamed for the accident, but new evidence comes to light, proving that the other driver was at fault.
Filing an insurance claim and receiving your benefits is not the end of the story. It may still be possible to collect necessary compensation long after the matter was apparently handled. Make a relationship with an attorney now. You may never need them, but you’ll wish you had them if you do.
STAY AWARE OF DEADLINES
After an accident, you have a limited amount of time to handle the matter. As we’ve said, it’s easy to get distracted by life – or recovery – but you should keep your deadlines in mind. Insurance companies have a deadline for you to file a claim, and that can be different for each insurer. Go through your policy, mark your calendar, and take care of the matter as soon as you can.
You have two years to file a personal injury suit. Put that date into your online calendar, and inform your attorney of this deadline. You may need it later.
If you’ve been in an accident, contact us right away. Our number is 918-492-7674. You can also use our online contact form.