What To Do After a Car Accident When You Weren’t at Fault

“Should I get an attorney for car accident damages and recovery?”

It’s a good question, and one that’s asked on a fairly regular basis, especially by injured folks who weren’t at fault for the crash they experienced.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise to hear that car accidents happen every day around the country. These types of sudden events can be quite serious, sometimes resulting in driver, passenger, and even pedestrian fatalities. In fact, just a few years ago, more than 33,000 people lost their lives in traffic crashes. Fortunately, the vast majority of individuals walk away from collisions without getting more than some scratches. However, if you’ve been in a collision and you’ve suffered physical or mental trauma, you may end up looking up tons of “Should I get an attorney for car accident…?” inquiries online.

To help you get some of your answers, try looking through the following guide. It’s aimed at helping you decide when legal assistance from a personal injury attorney makes sense, and when it may not be necessary. Be aware that the advice listed below is just a recommendation and not made by a lawyer. To get a lawyer’s feedback, you’ll need to schedule a consultation with one in the state where your crash took place.

Common Question #1: Should I Get an Attorney for Car Accident Related Medical Treatment?

You were in a car crash and ended up with a terrible case of whiplash and also suffered herniated discs. The result? A few days after the collision, you were in terrible back pain. Although you didn’t get emergency care on the day of your accident, you definitely needed it within 72 hours. So what do you do when the bill comes around?

This can be a sticky situation. Ideally, your insurance or the at-fault driver’s insurance should help you pay for your medical treatments that were directly related to your crash. However, insurance providers are notorious for turning down claims if you don’t seek treatment immediately after a crash. In other words, because you presented symptoms three or more days after the collision, the insurer may try to say that your injuries weren’t related to the crash at all. An insurer may try to suggest that you’re using the accident as a way of getting out of paying for medical bills for an injury you suffered doing something else.

Hearing that your claim for medical expenses has been denied can make you feel completely vulnerable and scared. What happens if you need surgery? Will you have to go into debt or rack up credit card bills? Before you let yourself get totally panicked, take a deep breath. Just because an insurer said “no” once doesn’t mean you can’t appeal the claim. And you can do that alone or with an attorney’s help. Some injured victims have successfully talked insurance adjusters into reversing their original denials.

So what’s the answer to “Should I get an attorney car accident related medical treatment?” It really depends on your situation. If you feel comfortable speaking with the insurance carrier yourself and trying to negotiate, you have the right. On the other hand, if you feel like you wouldn’t be able to hold your own against an experienced insurance professional who’s not on your side, you might want to hire an attorney. If your injury is serious enough, a car accident lawyer will usually be willing to take on your case on a contingent fee. That means you’ll pay nothing out of pocket, although you’ll have to pay the attorney a sizable percent of whatever damages you get.

Common Question #2: Should I Get an Attorney for Car Accident Related Talks With My Insurance Carrier?

This question has a lot in common with the previous one. After all, they both pertain to speaking with an insurance company representative.

First, you should remember that you don’t need to have anyone else by your side when you’re talking with your own car insurance provider. Ideally, you should feel very comfortable with the auto insurance representative on the phone. If you don’t, you should consider switching car insurance providers after you’ve settled everything related to your accident.

When you contact your car insurance carrier to report an accident that wasn’t your fault, you’ll need to give lots of information. For instance, the insurer will want to know when and where the accident took place, as well as the name and insurance information for the at-fault party. You may also need to send your insurance provider a copy of the police report. For that reason, be certain to always call 9-1-1 after getting into even a minor collision. Depending upon the state you live in, you may be legally bound to call the police after a collision, anyway.

During your conversations with your insurance carrier post-accident, be sure to ask about everything that’s covered in your policy. For example, does your insurance allow you to get a discount car rental to use while your vehicle’s being fixed? Or have you opted for such minimal coverage that you’re barely able to get anything? Write everything down that you learn from the insurance agent you speak with on the phone. It’ll help you remember what was said later on, which may be of value.

In this situation, the answer to “Should I get an attorney for car accident related talks with my insurance carrier?” is usually “no”. Unless you’re dealing with a car insurance carrier who’s unwilling to even help you or entertain your needs, you don’t have to bring in an attorney.

Common Question #3: Should I Get an Attorney for Car Accident Related Talks With an Auto Repair Company?

Was your car banged up during your crash experience? You’ll want to get it fixed as soon as possible so you can get back on the road. This will mean having discussions with an auto repair company, which may or may not be your usual auto technician or dealership.

Some insurance carriers will pick up repair tabs only if you go to specific auto repair providers. This means you could be limited to dealing with places that are new to you. However, if the places do great work and have excellent ratings, you probably don’t have to worry about anything.

Your insurance provider may want you to get the best bid possible for your repair work. In that circumstance, scout around for three bids. Yes, this takes time, but it ensures that you’re getting a better perspective on how much to reasonably pay for the work.

One word of caution: Factor in your deductible when you’re considering what this will all cost. Auto insurance deductibles can vary widely. A $500 deductible will land you a higher premium, usually. But if you’re in a car crash, it’ll be easier to pay off $500 than if you set your deductible at several thousand dollars.

At the end of the day, “Should I get an attorney for car accident related talks with an auto repair company?” deserves a “probably not” response.

Common Question #4: Should I Get an Attorney for Car Accident Related Long-Term Rehab Costs?

Not all medical costs related to car accidents are one-and-done affairs. Many times, physical therapy and other types of rehabilitative care are necessary. For example, if you injured your lower extremities during your collision, you may need to go to a foot and ankle center. Your podiatrist there may recommend that you go to orthopedic rehabilitation sessions until you’re healed, which could take months or longer than a year.

Long-term rehab costs can mount up, so insurance providers may be hesitant to pay for these types of treatment. One way around this would be to offer you a large settlement. However, you need to be aware of taking a settlement. Why? It might not really be enough to fully pay for all your treatments. Again, a lump sum can seem like a lot of money to you, but it could be used up quite rapidly.

If your doctors tell you honestly that you’re probably not going to be back to full health for quite a while, you may want to talk to a lawyer. Chances are strong that your insurance carrier will want to get your case off their plate quickly. And that could mean that you won’t get a fair deal without having a legal representative on your side. Just be sure to ask how much of a percentage your attorney will charge to help you get a better settlement so you’re not surprised when the attorney’s firm takes its contractual share.

Common Question #5: Should I Get an Attorney for Car Accident Related Psychological Treatment?

Of all the “Should I get an attorney for car accident…” style questions, this might be one of the toughest of all. Insurance carriers frequently balk at paying for psychological treatment for victims of car accidents. From the insurance company’s standpoint, your wavering mental health could have happened before or after the incident. Therefore, it’s tough to link it to the accident itself.

Nevertheless, it’s worth trying to get money from your insurance carrier or the at-fault driver’s insurer if you suffer psychological problems. What types of problems are frequently reported in injured car crash victims? PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a common one. The signs of PTSD can range from mood swings to the inability to get into a car without feeling terrified. People with PTSD can overcome their conditions through treatment, but the treatment can take a long time.

Other types of mental conditions related to accidents include shock, depression, anxiety, survivor’s guilt, and personality changes. Many people who have been through the trauma of a car crash, especially one that involved fatalities, cannot go back to work immediately. Again, insurance companies may not want to pay for their lost wages or mental health care.

If you’re suffering these kinds of problems, you’ll probably want to talk to a lawyer. The lawyer may not be able to force your insurance company to compensate you, but it’s worth an initial consultation. You’re much better off finding out your options early.

Ready to Contact a Car Accident Attorney?

After going through all the potential “Should I get an attorney for car accident…” inquiries floating around your head, you may decide to pick up the phone. Before you choose just any car accidents attorney, do a little research.

First, look for a car accident lawyer who can practice in the state where you had your crash. For instance, if you were on vacation in a different state and the collision occurred there, you’ll need an attorney in that state. Fortunately, you probably won’t have to visit the attorney in person for him or her to work on your case.

Secondly, read through some online reviews. See how others fared with the attorney you’re considering. Does the lawyer or the lawyer’s firm get decent ratings most of the time? Or do you notice some red flags? Remind yourself that a few bad ratings doesn’t mean the lawyer is terrible, but tons of them are usually an indicator of a problem.

Next, see if you can get a free consultation. Many attorneys offer free in-person or over-the-phone consultations to people who’ve been injured in car crashes and other highway accidents. You’re under no obligation to use the attorney, but you’ll get a lot of information based on the lawyer’s expertise. Be sure to ask about the statute of limitations, especially if your accident was more than one or two years ago.

Fourth, give yourself a couple of days to decide if the attorney seems to be a good fit for you and your needs. Were all your “Should I get an attorney for car accident…” questions answered by your consultation? Or do you feel more in the dark than ever? A solid, honest lawyer will give you a realistic response to all your inquiries.

Finally, make your decision and hire the attorney. Above all else, let the lawyer do the work. That’s what you’re paying for in the end, and that is what will help you get the best settlement if that’s possible and practical based on the nuances of your case and the insurance carriers in question.

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