After a car accident, you may not know what to do. Fortunately, an experienced car accident lawyerhelp can protect your rights to compensation. We asked dozens of attorneys with over 700+ years of combined experience to answer a simple yet essential question: “When do you need to hire a car accident lawyer?”
The consensus is that insurance companies have teams of car accident lawyers and adjusters who begin evaluating your injury claim right away and, because of this, it is essential to retain a personal injury lawyer immediately if you are injured in a car collision. You never want to go up against the insurance companies alone.
The key is to find an auto accident attorney or car crash law firm that provides personal attention at your most vulnerable hour. At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we believe that everyone deserves justice after a serious auto accident, and, as such, we fight aggressively for all our clients. Our law firm has helped collect millions for injured car crash survivors just like you, so call us today at 866-481-5347, or fill out our contact form for a free consultation.
How Do I Decide When to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer Near Me?
There are some general truths that hold up no matter what the specific details of your car accident are. A car accident victim is vulnerable to the insurance companies when they are not represented by a competent attorney. Insurance carriers like State Farm, GEICO, Progressive, and a host of others are all mega-corporations that got that way by employing an effective method of keeping costs low and profits high. This method is rooted in the idea that they attempt to pay as little as possible to victims, and they accomplish this by employing skilled claims adjusters and attorneys who can poke holes in what may otherwise appear to be clear-cut fact patterns.
Insurance carriers are well aware of which attorneys and law firms are known for taking cases to trial as opposed to the lawyers and firms that settle easily while leaving money on the table. Hiring the best auto accident law firm with significant trial experience levels the playing field between you and the insurance companies’ substantial financial resources and skilled attorneys. It is essential you retain a lawyer that handles only personal injury law and deals with car accident claims on a daily basis.
Consult with an Auto Accident Attorney Even if Your Auto Accident Was Minor
Deciding whether or not you should hire a car wreck attorney is based on your own case. If you have simple injuries that required a simple fix, then hiring an attorney is probably not necessary, but you should still consult with one. Attorneys offer free consultations for a reason: so that nobody’s time is wasted and so prospective clients are aware of all their available options.
Hire an Attorney with Caution
Once you decide that hiring a lawyer for your car wreck is necessary, use caution in which attorney you hire. Do your research and apply diligence. Some firms make their money through volume by taking in a lot of smaller cases and settling them as quickly as possible. These are known as settlement mills, and you can spot them by their flashy advertising.
Instead of being persuaded by ads meant to persuade you, do some research, read reviews, check the firms’ results, and call around. That’s the best way to find the best car accident lawyer.
What to Expect at Your Initial Consultation
Once you have made it through the process of hiring a personal injury attorney, you will be well on your way to getting the compensation you deserve. Your attorney can then sit down with you and explain how Florida’s PIP system works and how they will approach your own insurance company and the at-fault party’s insurance carrier. Your accident lawyer will lay out how the entire process works.
The best thing you can do is be informed about the process of filing a car accident claim in the state that you reside in and within the appropriate timeline.
There are practical limitations to that advice, of course. Most people probably will not think to call an attorney while they are still at the accident scene, dealing with sudden injuries, or being loaded into the back of an ambulance. While seeking medical care should always be your first priority, calling an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as the dust has settled will almost always reap benefits.
There are practical limitations to that advice, of course. Most people do not have a car accident lawyer on speed dial. They probably will not think to call an attorney while they are still at the accident scene, dealing with sudden injuries, or being loaded into the back of an ambulance. Seeking medical should, in any event, always be that person’s first priority. But, as soon as the dust has settled on an accident, calling an experienced car accident lawyer will almost always reap benefits.
Is It Worth Getting a Car Accident Lawyer?
Yes, particularly so following an automobile collision resulting in severe injuries resulting in fractured bone(s), disfigurement, limited use of a body part or function, or disability. Such injuries are compensable and may be maximized using a personal injury attorney. An experienced attorney will handle an oftentimes unclear claims process to ensure that the compensation for your claim is commensurate with the injuries you have suffered.
A car accident injury attorney acts as an advocate for clients injured in car accidents, protecting the injured client’s legal interests. The lawyer shields the client from individuals and entities who might try to impair or limit the client’s rights after an accident, such as aggressive insurance adjusters and defense attorneys hoping to pin “fault” on the accident victim instead of on their own, blameworthy clients.
An attorney also serves as an objective voice of reason for the victim and the victim’s family during a stressful, chaotic time. Crash victims often find it difficult to think clearly about potentially important, financially significant decisions in the hours, days, and weeks after a car accident. Car wreck attorneys support their clients by giving clear, level-headed advice.
Finally, an experienced car accident attorney acts as the client’s representative in pursuing the client’s legal rights to make sure the client sees justice and accountability done. Lawyers know all about how a brewing legal storm can affect car accident victims. The sooner you contact a lawyer for help after an accident, the sooner they can begin taking steps to protect you, your family, and your right to receive compensation.
What Type of Lawyer Deals with Car Accidents?
Any licensed attorney in your state can handle a car accident claim. However, a personal injury attorney specializes in cases involving injuries suffered as a result of an auto accident. An experienced personal injury attorney is familiar with the nuances involved in obtaining the greatest possible compensation for your injuries.
Through experience, these attorneys are inherently familiar with the medical condition(s) associated with your claim and are best served in providing you with the guidance necessary in obtaining the greatest compensation for your injuries. Additionally, these attorneys understand the treatment necessary in getting you back to full health.
Make Sure the Law Firm Is Not a Settlement Mill
It is important to note that not all law firms that represent motor vehicle accident victims are the same. In fact, many of the biggest advertising firms are little more than settlement mills, which is a firm that relies heavily on advertising as their main source of gaining new business. They actually take very few cases to trial, even if the situation calls for it.
Settlement mills do not rely on current or former clients to refer their friends and family to them, so they can afford to employ a “mill mentality” in how they handle their cases. In fact, settlement mills tend to leave money on the table at the time of settlement, as they are more concerned with resolving a volume of personal injury cases each month to pay their expensive advertising budget. Keep in mind that even an average trial lawyer is superior to a settlement mill, as the insurance carrier must spend money defending a trial or a case that has advanced far in litigation.
The goal of any insurance carrier is to save money and forcing them to run up costs gets their immediate attention.
Factors to Consider in Selecting the Best Car Accident Law Firm
Some factors to consider when determining how to select the best car accident law firm for your case includes the following.
- Does the law firm have a reputation for taking cases to trial? A law firm or individual attorney who rarely tries cases before juries and who does not aggressively litigate their cases is essentially saying the insurance company is being fair – and we know this is rarely true. Thus, it is essential you retain a law firm that is known for litigating cases because one that doesn’t pose minimal risk to the insurance company and will often leave money on the table.
- Does the law firm have the financial resources to retain the best experts? At Dolman Law Group, we devote significant financial resources to our biggest and most complicated cases, and in order to properly understand and demonstrate the harms and losses our clients have sustained, we retain nationally recognized experts to level the playing field with the biggest insurance carriers and corporate giants. Our firm has litigated car accident lawsuits against some of the biggest companies in the world and has the financial means to take on any corporation regardless of size.
- Has the law firm handled and litigated catastrophic injury claims? Many law firms lack experience handling catastrophic injury claims such as traumatic brain injuries, loss of limbs/amputations, burn injuries, and other life-altering tragic events. The worry is whether the attorney or firm is operating out of their comfort zone, whether they have the necessary financial resources to handle the size of such a case, and the prior experience to understand whether they are truly maximizing the compensation for their client who will likely require lifetime care.
How Much Is a Car Accident Settlement?
Car accident victims receive varying settlement offers depending on:
- The severity of the injury
- Past and future medical expenses
- Witness testimony
- Suggested fault
- The age of the injured party
- The effects the injury has on your everyday life
Insurance companies use an algorithm to compute their suggested case value and settlement amount. Based upon this number, the insurance company, through an adjuster or attorney, will offer your attorney a certain sum to settle your case.
Should I Get a Lawyer for a Car Accident that Wasn’t My Fault?
Absolutely. Hiring an experienced personal injury attorney following an auto accident resulting in personal injury is imperative in receiving the greatest possible compensation for your untimely injuries. When a third party is at fault for your accident, you will like to seek compensation through a third-party insurer (the at-fault party’s insurer).
Without an attorney, a third-party insurer may attempt to settle your claim by offering you a sum of money for less than the actual value of your case. By hiring an experienced personal injury attorney, you provide legitimacy to your claim and force the third-party insurer to properly evaluate your claim and fairly compensate you for your injuries.
How Long Does a Car Accident Lawsuit Take?
Each auto accident lawsuit is factually different and therefore varies in length depending on a variety of factors. Such factors include:
- The insurance carrier(s) and adjustor(s) involved
- Past and future medical treatment
- Any witnesses involved
- Whether fault is determined or admitted
Depending on the factors above, you may see that your lawsuit takes anywhere from several months to one or two years.
How Much Does a Car Crash Lawyer Cost?
Personal injury attorneys typically work on what is called a “contingency fee basis,” meaning you will not pay your attorney until and unless you are compensated for your loss. Guidelines regarding contingency fee agreements are typically outlined by the State Bar Association in the state in which you make your personal injury claim. Such contingency fee agreements are discussed at length with your personal injury attorney before you ever commit to the prospective attorney’s representation.
How Do I Know if a Lawyer Is Legit?
Although you can never truly find anything online that will tell you whether a car wreck lawyer is good, or “legit”, you can make some assumptions on your own by searching for their licensing information. Car accident lawyers are licensed by a state agency where they practice, and this is who grants the lawyer their bar license. In most states, the licensing is managed by what is called the “state bar” or the “state bar association”.
In 44 states and D.C., you can search that state’s online database to more easily figure out whether an attorney is licensed and active, has any past infractions, and is in good standing. You can search the American Bar Associations’ database as well.
How Long Do You Have to Get a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
Unique to personal injury cases, time is of the essence when hiring a personal injury attorney as doing so is imperative to maximizing the value of your case. Much of your case comes down to the nature of the treatment you have received when such treatment was rendered and the ability to identify witnesses to the accident. By quickly hiring a personal injury attorney after your accident, you provide your attorney with the greatest opportunity to achieve the best possible compensation for your personal injury claim.
What Should I Do in a Minor Car Accident?
It is important to document all things related to the car accident while the information is still fresh in your mind. Additionally, you should see a doctor as soon as reasonably possible, even if you do not feel or see an immediate injury. Your adrenaline rises during an accident, and thus you may not feel pain until that excitement has died down.
A doctor will be able to properly assess any injuries and render a professional opinion, which can be vital if you are to pursue legal action against the at-fault party. Once you are physically and emotionally able, you should file a claim with your insurance company, as doing so is a contractual prerequisite for obtaining coverage under your policy.
How Can I Maximize My Car Accident Settlement?
You can maximize your personal injury claim by:
- Finding witnesses
- Documenting your injuries in great detail
- Keeping all documents (medical records, insurance information, police reports, witness information, etc.)
- Documenting the limitations your injury imposes on your daily life
It is equally important that you follow your medical provider’s treatment plan and that you never miss scheduled appointments, as doing so decreases the legitimacy of your claim to the adjuster evaluating the same.
Why Should You Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
Car accidents wreak havoc in the lives of Floridians. Every year, around 400,000 crashes occur on Florida roads, according to official data. In some of those collisions, drivers and passengers were lucky enough to walk away without serious injury, but many accident victims were left in immense physical, emotional, and financial pain.
If this happened to you, then you may need an attorney to help you recover compensation to help pay for your recovery from your injuries. Because all car accidents are unique, advocates for accident victims usually start by investigating three key questions:
- How did the accident happen? What chain of events, obvious or not, ended in a crash that caused a client’s injuries?
- Who has legal responsibility for the crash? What do the facts of the accident say about who had a legal duty not to act in a way that might harm others, violated that duty, and caused the crash?
- How much has the injury impacted the client’s life? What is the appropriate amount of money a victim should receive to compensate for all of the ways the injury has caused them harm?
The answers to these questions provide a road map of sorts for the attorney and client to decide on a strategy for seeking maximum compensation. Armed with this information, the lawyer can help you decide who to pursue payment from and how much is realistic to expect to obtain. The information can also help them decide whether to pursue settlement negotiations right away or collect more information before making a decision.
A Car Crash Attorney Can Negotiate from a Position of Strength
One option for seeking accountability and compensation that is always open to car accident victims and their lawyers is to negotiate with the parties who have legal liability for the crash (which usually also includes those parties’ insurance carriers). Collision attorneys frequently give careful thought to how to enter into these negotiations to give a client the best chance of recovering the most money possible. Perhaps the most significant consideration in that regard is the lawyer’s assessment of when the client’s case has reached peak strength since that is usually the most advantageous moment to press the other side for maximum payment.
An Attorney Can Defeat the Underhanded Tactics Used by Insurance Carriers
Car accident lawyers and their clients cannot always dictate the terms of negotiations. Insurance companies, for example, have a bag of tricks they often deploy in hopes of minimizing the amount of money they need to spend to escape liability for an accident. One such tactic involves them trying to negotiate directly with a victim before the victim has had a chance to hire a car accident lawyer.
This represents a calculated bet on the part of insurance companies. They hope to catch accident victims at a vulnerable moment and to convince them to jump at what is almost always a lowball settlement offer. Underhanded tactics like this illustrate why we believe it is so important for accident victims to retain experienced car accident injury counsel right away.
Dealing with aggressive insurance adjusters is much easier when all you have to say is “talk to my lawyer.” Letting a collision attorney take over discussions with the insurance company levels the playing field and gives you the power to decide when your case is strong enough to press your advantage.
You May Need Skilled Trial Advocacy
Another option car accident victims and their lawyers always have is to take legal action against the parties responsible for causing the accident. Depending on the facts and circumstances of the crash, the lawyer and client may decide to file an action right away or to give negotiations a chance to play out before suing. They may also need to collect more evidence before deciding on a course of action.
The most important factor in taking legal action can often end up being the skill, experience, and reputation of the lawyer the victim hires to prepare the case. Not all attorneys who advertise for car accident cases can take a case to trial and win. A victim cannot hope to recover maximum compensation without a true trial lawyer by his or her side.
Most car accident cases settle before they ever see the inside of a courtroom. However, unless the other side knows the victim’s lawyer can take a case to trial and win, they and the insurance representatives will try to pay you to avoid going to court. A lawyer can win a higher-value settlement for their clients simply by having a reputation as a trial lawyer to be feared.
Of course, some cases do not settle. In those instances, a victim always benefits from having an attorney who wasn’t bluffing in telling the other side they’d “see them in court.” No lawyer can guarantee the outcome of a trial or settlement negotiations. But victims give themselves the best chance of winning when they retain legal counsel who, from Day One, looks at a case with an eye toward how to win.
Not Hiring a Car Accident Attorney Costs You Money
We would be remiss not to mention one other consideration in deciding when to hire an attorney after a car accident: waiting costs you money – potentially lots of it. The older a case is when an attorney takes it, the less fresh the evidence and the more difficult the investigation into the how, who, and how much.
Witnesses’ memories fade, first responders move on, and accident scenes get cleaned up. The passage of time steadily eats away at the top-end of the amount of money an accident victim might hope to recover.
Then, there is the statute of limitations, a state law that sets the deadline by which an accident victim can take legal action. Missing this deadline means losing your legal rights to compensation altogether. In Florida, most car accident lawsuits must begin no later than four years after the accident, and just two years if the victim died in the crash.
In other words, if you wait too long to get a good auto accident attorney after a car accident, your claim will be worth zero. A lawyer can ensure you don’t miss any deadlines and are more than aware of how time can play an integral role in a car accident lawsuit. Placing your case in a lawyer’s hands as soon as possible also comes with the benefit of giving your legal team the additional time they need to stay ahead of the curve.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer Today
Hire a car accident law firm with a great reputation that actually takes cases to trial by reaching out to Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA at any time at 866-481-5347, or you can write to us using our contact page. Our car accident attorneys have a combined 115+ years of experience in handling Florida motor vehicle collision lawsuits and claims, and to date, we have recovered over $175 million on behalf of car wreck and serious injury victims.
Matthew Dolman is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum and has been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and to Florida’s Legal Elite. Stanley Gipe is a Florida Bar board-certified civil trial lawyer and has served as lead counsel on over 1,000 Florida accident and injury lawsuits. We have offices in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey, Sarasota, Aventura, Orlando, Doral, North Miami Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, and Boca Raton, which includes the counties of Pinellas, Pasco, Sarasota, Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach.
Our goal is to provide you with accurate and relevant information. Before anything is published to our website, our editorial staff ensures that all of the information is scrutinized and fact-checked for accuracy. Additionally, all of our content is legally reviewed by one of our practicing attorneys.
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How to Find a Good Car Accident Lawyer
When trying to find a good car accident lawyer there are a few ways to find a firm that is best suited for you and your case. Here’s how:
Seek out lawyers with experience – Experience is everything, in any field, and an attorney that has a proven track record in a case similar to yours is always beneficial. For example, if your crash involved a bus or occurred within a school zone, you may want to find a lawyer who has had experience representing cases with similar circumstances. Additionally, finding a lawyer that has court representation experience might be helpful, if necessary.
Look for lawyers with high success levels in a court situation – The law firm or specific attorney you are seeking should have experience with taking cases to trial. The more a given attorney is known for litigating cases, the better. This is because a lawyer that is well-versed in taking cases to court, tends to make the highest amount of compensation for their clients.
Car accidents happen every day, and when they do, it’s important to have a good car accident lawyer on your side. Choosing the right lawyer for your car accident case will be based on various factors, but it’s still important that you do all the research needed and take your time to find an attorney that will fight for your case.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Car Accident?
Yes, it is always recommended to hire an experienced lawyer following a car accident. In these given situations, you will want to seek legal assistance:
In an accident where no fault is established – Some accidents can occur where no driver is at fault, meaning they were caused by uncontrollable events. If this is the case, a lawyer will be able to do what is needed in order to get you the compensation you deserve.
You were at fault for the accident – On the other hand, if you were the person to cause a car accident, then your insurance company will generally provide you with an attorney for your defense. Due to this, it’s best to seek your own trusted car accident lawyer to fight for you and your case.
A crash involving an uninsured driver – This type of accident creates complicated situations, and in order to navigate the legal process, an attorney will be extremely helpful.
Any accident in a school zone – Due to the severity of school zone accidents, you could face serious penalties. Because of this, it’s crucial to have a lawyer who can help you navigate the legal system.
Should I Get a Lawyer For a Car Accident That Was My Fault?
Yes, if you were involved in a car accident where you were clearly at fault, you will need to seek legal assistance. It’s incredibly important that you know what you should and shouldn’t do in this sort of situation because, in many cases, the wrong decisions can cost you large amounts of money and time.
Seeking the help of a car accident lawyer in an accident where you were at fault is the best option because a lawyer can help protect your rights and ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Additionally, there are many benefits to getting a lawyer for a car accident that was your fault. For example, they may be able to negotiate a lower settlement amount with the other involved parties’ insurance companies, because many car accident lawyers have extensive experience dealing with similar claims.
Lastly, if you do end up having to go to court, hiring a lawyer can increase the success rate of your case outcome. If you’re involved in a car accident, it’s important to consult with a reputable car accident lawyer to learn about all of your legal options.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for a Minor Car Accident?
In almost all cases, yes you should still hire a car accident attorney for a minor case. But, if you’re still not sure whether or not you should hire a lawyer for a minor car accident, consider the following factors:
The severity of the accident – If there was only minor damage to both parties’ vehicles and no one was seriously injured, you may not need to hire an attorney. However, if there was more significant damage to property and vehicles or someone was seriously injured, it is probably in your best interest to consult with an attorney moving forward.
The extent of your injuries – For example, if you wouldn’t need to see a doctor after your car accident, then you will not need to hire an attorney. On the other hand, if you do need medical assistance following your accident, or if you are looking to file a claim against the other driver, then seeking legal assistance would be beneficial.
Whether or not the other driver has insurance – Things can get complicated if this is the case so hiring a lawyer will be needed to file a proper claim and give insight into the legal process.
In general, many people involved in minor car accidents don’t hire a lawyer, but there are some instances where legal counsel should be sought out. If needed, the sooner you contact a car accident lawyer, the sooner you could get the composition you deserve.
When Should I Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
When the question of if you should hire a car accident attorney arises, consider these factors:
If you have been injured in a car accident, or if your car has been damaged- This is especially important if you are considering filing a claim against the other driver involved in the accident.
If you are unsure about who was at fault for the accident – In some accidents, it may be unclear who caused the accident and whether or not you would have a case against the other individual involved.
If you have already filed a claim against the other driver and are not happy with the progress of the case – All car accident lawyers can help you understand your rights and guide you through the legal process.
Additionally, they can help you negotiate a settlement with the other driver’s insurance company.
When you find yourself involved in a car accident, it can be tricky to decide when a lawyer should be hired. On top of the multiple stressors of being in a car accident, there are countless other things to worry about, such as the property damage caused, medical expenses, and dealing with insurance companies. Due to this, many forget to seek legal assistance.
Hiring a car accident lawyer should happen as soon as possible following a car accident. Contacting an attorney on the day that the collision happens, or within the days following, will be the most beneficial. A lawyer can help to inform you of your rights and best advise you on how to carry out your claim if needed. They can deal with insurance companies and get any medical expenses sorted out as quickly as possible.