There are certain steps you should take immediately after a car accident. Calling an experienced attorney is one of them. However, not everyone will need to seek legal assistance following an accident. Our Pleasanton car accident lawyers explain when you should get an attorney after a car accident.
Should I Get an Attorney for a Car Accident?
You are never required to get a car accident attorney. However, in certain circumstances, you should. No matter the situation, we always recommend that you speak to an experienced attorney after an accident.
Many car accident attorneys offer a free initial consultation to discuss your case. During this consultation, you can discuss the accident and ask any questions you may have. The attorney will help you understand your legal options and whether you have a viable claim to recover compensation. This way you can get the information you need to make an informed decision at no risk or obligation to you.
When to Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident
Reasons to get an attorney for a car accident may include:
Serious Injuries or Death
If you suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one in the accident, you should get an attorney. Catastrophic injuries can quickly result in financial hardship for you and your family. Certain injuries can lead to millions of dollars in damages, so you should give yourself the best possible chance to recover compensation. You need an attorney when:
- You have hospital bills and need ongoing medical care
- You cannot work because of your injuries
- You may have permanent injuries that will impact your future earning potential
When serious damage occurs, your accident case becomes more complex. Evidence, accident fault and insurance policies all become major factors in your case. You want an attorney on your side to investigate the scene, gather evidence and build a strong case for you.
Car Accident Fault
You also need a car accident attorney if there is room to question who is at fault for the accident. This is especially true if multiple parties were involved in the accident, because multiple parties could be partly responsible for your accident. Cases that involve more than two parties can result in multiple lawsuits.
Additionally, California is a comparative fault state. This means that the at-fault party or parties can try to pin part of the accident fault on you. If you are representing yourself, it will be much more difficult to recover the compensation you need and deserve. If you are found partly responsible for the accident, then the percentage you are found at-fault will be taken out of your recovered compensation.
Our firm was recently able to track down a witness to a car accident that the police had not interviewed that changed the outcome of our client’s case dramatically. Initially, the police officer found our client at fault in the accident. However, after locating this new witness who provided a statement to the officer challenging the other driver’s version of events, the officer modified his report to reflect that it was unclear who was responsible for the accident. This allowed us to submit a claim to the other driver’s insurance carrier and secure a settlement on his behalf.
If you need to file a claim with the other party’s insurance company, you should have a car accident lawyer with you. We cannot reiterate this to our clients enough – the insurance company is not on your side. Insurance companies are in business to make money. Because of this, the insurance company may:
- Blame your injuries on something else
- Not take your injuries seriously
- Offer you a quick and unfair settlement
- Deny your claim outright
You should not sign anything without talking to an attorney first. Our Pleasanton car accident attorneys may be able to negotiate a favorable settlement for your case. If we cannot reach a fair settlement, we are active trial lawyers. We are experienced in litigating our clients’ cases to get them the compensation they need after an accident.
This is not an exhaustive list of reasons you may need a car accident attorney. This is why it is important to discuss your situation with a lawyer during a free consultation.
When Should I Not Hire an Attorney for a Car Accident?
You may not need to hire an attorney if:
- Your car accident was minor. If your accident was minor with no injuries or property damage, then you likely do not need to hire an attorney. However, we recommend that you always seek medical attention after an accident. You want to make sure that you do not have any dormant or lingering injuries. Our firm regularly advises clients with minor injuries to NOT hire a lawyer as those cases can many times be negotiated between the injured party and the insurance company directly without having to pay legal fees.
- The recovery from a lawsuit is very small. If the estimated recovery for a potential claim is small, it may not justify hiring a lawyer.
Again, we recommend that you at least discuss your situation with a car accident lawyer. We will give you an honest opinion about whether pursuing a claim with an attorney is worthwhile. If you do have a viable claim, you have nothing to lose by hiring a personal injury lawyer.
Many personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis – we do. This means that you do not pay any attorney fees unless you recover compensation through a settlement or trial. Our Pleasanton personal injury lawyers cover all upfront costs associated with your case. Our fees come out of the compensation recovered for your case.
Contact a Pleasanton Car Accident Lawyer From Our Firm
Bonjour, Thorman, Burns & Dahm, PC, can help you understand whether you need an attorney after an accident. We have successfully represented many accident survivors in Alameda County, Contra Costa County and throughout the Bay Area.