Attorneys Answer: When do you need to hire a car accident lawyer?

SOURCE: DOLMAN Law Group

We asked 16 attorneys to answer a simple, yet important question: “When do I need to hire a car accident lawyer?”

Keep in mind that the insurance companies have teams of lawyers and adjusters who begin evaluating your injury claim right away. Because of this, it is essential that you retain an attorney immediately if you are injured in a car collision in order to level the playing field.

Facing a team of professional attorneys that work full-time for billion-dollar insurance companies isn’t a wise move. It is possible to go at it alone, but you are literally at their mercy; they may give you a thousand dollars, a few hundred bucks, or possibly even deny your claim. It is up to them since you don’t really know what legal rights you have, what alternatives you could use, or what to do to fight them. They spend every day, all day, fighting claims on behalf of their employers (insurance companies) so facing them on your own with no experience has an obvious outcome.

It is important to note that not all personal injury law firms are the same. In fact, many of the biggest advertising firms are little more than settlement mills. A settlement mill is a firm that relies on heavy advertising as the lifeblood of their business and litigate a disproportionate amount of their cases. Such firms do not rely on current or former clients to refer cases via word-of-mouth and can thus afford to employ a mill mentality to their handling of 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 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.

The Dolman Law Group has decades of experience in protecting the rights of car accident victims all throughout Florida. David Neiser is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney and our firm has tried a number of cases before Florida juries. We have the financial resources to stand toe-to-toe with any insurance carrier or corporation. Our skilled and dedicated attorneys will fight to ensure that you are fairly compensated for your losses. Call (727) 451-6900 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation today.

If you have been involved in a car accident resulting in a physical injury, your likely next step is to file a claim with your insurance company along with the insurance carrier for the at-fault party. Since Florida is a no-fault state, a PIP insurance(Personal Injury Protection) claim will be opened in order to treat your injuries. You must also file a claim with the other driver’s insurance (if they were at fault) in order to pay for the medical bills and lost wages that exceed PIP’s $10,000.00 in maximum benefits.

This process is fairly routine and most people driving in Florida understand how it works. The “no-fault” system simply means that no matter who is at fault in the accident, you will treat under your own PIP benefits for the first $10,000.00 in medical bills. The purpose of the “no-fault” system is to enable an auto accident injury victim to commence immediate medical treatment without having to wait for a Court of Law to determine who in fact is liable for the car wreck.

Once you’ve filed a claim, it will be up to the insurance company to determine the value of such. The insurance carrier may also deny the claim completely. It can become complicated when filing multiple claims with different insurance companies, facilitating treatment and repairs, and ensuring that you’re getting the compensation you deserve.

If your injuries are minor, then you may continue to try to handle the case yourself. If your car accident injuries are more serious, then you will probably begin to wonder about the hiring process of a personal injury attorney.

We went out and asked 16 different attorneys a simple, yet extremely important question: “When should someone hire a car accident attorney?” Read their answers below.

When do you Need to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?

Individuals who are involved in a motor vehicle accident should hire an attorney as soon as possible. Car accidents have the potential to leave victims with serious injuries and tremendous damage to their property. Florida law allows people to recover financial compensation for these and other types of losses, but only if they are able to establish that their accident was caused by someone else’s legal negligence. Two of the most important reasons that car accident victims should retain an attorney immediately include:

Sometimes, establishing negligence can be difficult – When liability after a car accident is contested, investigation may become necessary to establish negligence. A car accident lawyer will know where and how to look for evidence that supports your case.

You may inadvertently admit fault – Insurance companies are in the business of making money and train their adjusters to minimize the amount they pay out, even on completely valid claims.

In some cases, an insurance company may try and obtain a statement from you or ask certain questions hoping that you inadvertently admit full or partial liability for an accident, which could have a significant impact on your ability to recover. When you retain an attorney, he or she will deal with the insurance company on your behalf and make sure you receive the compensation to which you are entitled.

Matthew Dolman – Dolman Law Group

The answer is short and simple: You should hire a car accident attorney when you are injured in a car accident.

No matter the property damage, severity of injury, or insurance situation–if a moment goes by after you are injured in a car accident when you are physically and mentally able to hire a lawyer, you’ve waited too long. As soon as an insurance company is notified of a car accident, they are figuring out how to devalue your claim. They make a lot of money using this business practice. The only way for you to level the playing field is to hire a car accident lawyer right away. If you hire the right car accident lawyer, you can actually gain the upper hand. If you wait, you’re late. They have a head start and now you have to catch up.

You have a life and you need to live it. Maybe you have a job, or a family to take care of, maybe you are a student with classes and tests. Everyone has responsibilities, so when you are injured by someone else’s driving, you shouldn’t have to take on the responsibility of handling that case on your own. It costs you nothing to have a trained professional handle every aspect of your car accident case. All you should be worried about is treating your injuries and handling your responsibilities. Let a car accident lawyer handle everything else.

Peter Tragos – Law Offices of Tragos, Sartes & Tragos

The only thing more important than hiring a lawyer after a car accident is seeking medical attention. Once you are stable, you need to find representation quickly. Insurance companies start working immediately after an accident to undermine your ability to recover for the harm you have suffered. Evidence from the accident can be lost in days and sometimes as quickly as a few hours. An experienced car accident attorney can ensure that all of the evidence is properly preserved.

Often times the insurance companies will reach out to you and try to get you to give a recorded statement. This is never a good idea. For one thing, the information you give can be used against you in later proceedings. Additionally, the information that you give shortly after an accident may not be fully informed and you may not yet realize the full extent of the harm you have suffered. All communications with the insurance company should pass through your attorney. Once the insurance company is notified that you have obtained an attorney they will no longer contact you and the persistent phone calls will come to an end.

One of the most important responsibilities of a car accident attorney is establishing and fully proving the harm that you have suffered. A good lawyer will recognize harms that you did not even realize you have sustained. These can include: past and future lost wages and loss to future earning capacity, future medical costs including treatment and surgery, a life care plan that lays out all of the future economic harms you will incur as a result of the accident and many others that are not immediately apparent. Your ability to recover for these types of harms can be severely diminished if proper representation is not secured soon after the accident occurs.

Gabriel Levin – The Levin Firm

If you have a serious injury or wrongful death case, you need to hire a lawyer immediately. There are too many potential facts that can disappear. Witness memories, skid marks and other reconstruction evidence, video records, and other information that is critical to your case can change or disappear. The defendants and their insurance companies are usually quick to collect and preserve this evidence. If you do not do so yourself – the right way – you are starting your case behind the eight ball.

The serious injury or fatality qualifier is an important one. The value that an experienced lawyer with a track record of success can deliver varies inversely with the size of the case. In a smaller case, an argument can you can get by without an attorney. It is risky even in a small case. But it is not always unreasonable to represent yourself. But it a serious injury or wrongful death case (where policy limits are not the controlling issue), the difference a good lawyer can make is critical. Our firm, and I’m sure most of the other lawyers offering advice here, have received overs that are more than 50 times the settlement offer given to our client before we took over the case.

Also remember to take advantage of the fact that most accident lawyers will offer a free consultation. There are some cases where a delay in hiring a lawyer – based either on the facts of the case or the fact that too much time has already passed – is not likely to be fatal to your claim. Getting good experienced counsel on the phone can make all the difference in understanding what is needed to be done in your case and how urgent it is that you hire a lawyer immediately.

Ronald V. Miller Jr. – Miller & Zois

After sustaining seemingly minor injuries in a car accident, many drivers believe they don’t need a lawyer. This line of thinking can be a dangerous and costly mistake—oftentimes, car accident injuries don’t appear for weeks or even months after the initial accident. If you’ve been in a car accident due to another driver’s negligence, it’s highly advisable to consult with an auto accident attorney as soon as possible, even if you think that you’re totally fine. A car accident lawyer can help you understand your options, and assist you in obtaining fair compensation for any medical and rehabilitation costs that may arise in the future, as well as repair fees, lost wages, and overall pain and suffering.

No-fault laws can make it difficult to secure adequate compensation, but an attorney can help you push for the settlement you need to ensure your long-term recovery.

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