Every day, thousands of people are involved in car accidents. Many of these are minor – fender benders that don’t lead to any significant injuries – but others are much more devastating. In these more serious accidents, people may be left badly hurt, as well as with major property damage they need to deal with. What, then, is the best thing to do in the aftermath of a car accident? According to lawyers, these are the most important things you should know.
Call A Lawyer First
After addressing any urgent medical issues, the first thing you should do after a serious car accident is call a lawyer, but not just any lawyer. You need to find a lawyer who can properly handle your case, and that requires some effort. Learn how to interview personal injury lawyers, asking critical questions about their experience, specialty, and even fee structure. You’ll need a lawyer to act as the intermediary in conversations with insurance companies and to file any necessary lawsuits in a timely manner, so it’s important to find one quickly.
Get Insurance Info, But Don’t Contact Them
It’s one of the simple rules drilled into new drivers: if you’re involved in an accident, get the other person’s insurance information. This is important, but especially if you’re dealing with more than just some dents or scrapes, you shouldn’t contact the insurance yourself. If you do so, you may compromise your case. Instead, your lawyer will contact the at-fault driver’s insurance company, allowing you to focus on your health and ensuring that you’re in the best strategic position.
Don’t Settle Too Quickly
Many car accident cases lead to settlements with the insurance company negotiated by your lawyer based on your specific situation, but you don’t want to settle your case too quickly. Even more importantly, though, it’s very rarely a good idea to settle a car accident privately. A private settlement is one in which the at-fault driver pays you out of pocket, which is typically done in an attempt to keep the accident off their record. A private settlement can leave you in a weak negotiating position and may not cover all of your costs, even if it seems like a good offer at the time.
Identify Extenuating Circumstances
There are many different reasons why you might want to negotiate more aggressively in response to a car accident, and while your lawyer can identify some of these situations for you, you also need to be transparent about anything that may affect your case. For example, car accidents involving children often call for a more aggressive approach than those that involve a single adult because the consequences and need for medical or therapeutic intervention may be greater.
If you’ve been in a car accident, you deserve a great lawyer who will fight for you. Unfortunately, some lawyers interview well and then don’t follow through on your case, so you need to be able to spot the red flags and hold your legal team accountable – even if you’re struggling with injuries or other issues after your accident. In particular, you should insist on regular communication and a clear billing strategy, which means you should always know what’s happening with your case and what you’re paying for.
While every lawsuit plays out differently and some car accidents don’t even lead to formal lawsuits, you need to be ready for anything. Things can get messy and combative, or they can come together quickly. When you have the right lawyer on your side, though, you can be confident that they’ll handle things on your behalf and fight until you get the results you deserve.