In general, if you ask yourself the question “Do I need an auto accident lawyer?” the short answer is that you probably do. If you walk away from a fender bender with no damage to your vehicle and nothing more than rattled nerves, a lawyer probably won’t be necessary. However, if you have questions, it’s important to at least speak with a lawyer, who will listen to your concerns and advise you regarding what to do next.
Car accident disputes can become far more complex than the average person may be able to anticipate at the time of a crash, so it is always wise to contact an experienced auto accident lawyer when you’re unsure or feeling overwhelmed in dealing with doctors, lost time from work, or insurance companies.
Why You Need an Auto Accident Attorney
If you’ve sustained anything more than minor injuries in a car accident, you should retain a lawyer immediately to help you receive the maximum compensation for your suffering. A lawyer won’t just consider the injuries you have now; he or she will consider your long-term prognosis and take into account any future medical bills you may incur as you recover. An attorney will also fight to recover damages for loss of future income and loss of quality of life. Long-term or permanently disabling injuries are particularly complex, as the victim will have likely seen multiple doctors and specialists, each of whom will need to be deposed in order to prove the extent of the injuries and determine the victim’s prognosis.
Issues with insurance companies may arise that will also need to be navigated by an aggressive, experienced attorney. Remember that an insurance company, despite the image that they might try to convey, is always angling to pay victims as little as possible. A common tactic that insurance companies use to avoid paying is to dispute liability; in other words, they claim that their policyholder is not responsible for the crash — or that you have provided insufficient evidence to prove that he was — and therefore they are not required to pay you damages.
Outright refusal to pay is another insurance company tactic that should be handled by a lawyer. In both of these instances, an auto accident lawyer will be able to present the proof that the other driver was at fault and compel the insurance company to pay you what you are due or meet you in court.
What to Look for in an Auto Accident Lawyer
Car accident litigation requires a broad knowledge of the law. The attorney you choose should have significant experience in dealing with personal injury, liability, property destruction, and wrongful death. While all of these may not be applicable in your case, your lawyer should be well versed in all aspects of the law that are involved with car accidents. Knowledge of state and national transportation laws, experience in negotiating with insurance and health care companies, and experience in trial law should your case come to that are all necessary for a successful outcome for your lawsuit.
Independent legal organizations and referral sources exist that will allow you to research your prospective attorney. Organizations such as Avvo, Martindale-Hubbell, the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association, The National Trial Lawyers, and many others maintain information on lawyer performance that will help you select an attorney and give you the peace of mind that you will be well represented.
As always, trust your instincts. If your gut tells you that the attorney is thorough and trustworthy, that’s a good start. Does he take your questions seriously and give thoughtful answers? Does she return your phone calls in a timely fashion? All of these factors will help you to choose an auto accident lawyer that is right for you.
Questions to Ask Your Auto Accident Lawyer
During the initial consultation, be sure to find out what percentage of the firm’s cases involve auto accidents and what their success rate is with such cases. Also confirm that the practice has experience in dealing with the type of injuries that you have sustained, and ask them what sort of settlement you might be able to expect.
It is very important to establish the law firm’s fee structure upfront as well as any investigatory fees that will be charged to you. A lawyer should be willing to take your car accident case on a contingency basis; in other words, you should not have to pay unless and until the lawyer has won your case. The percentage of the award that you will pay should be determined before he or she takes your case.
When to Hire a Car Accident Attorney
Contact a lawyer if any of the following apply:
- There is a dispute about who is responsible.
- There is an inaccurate or incomplete police or accident report.
- The insurance company does not offer enough money to fix your vehicle.
- There are any questions regarding your or the other party’s insurance status or liability limits.
- More than two vehicles were involved or if a pedestrian or cyclist was involved.
- Your insurance company gives you inconsistent or confusing information, or connects you with their attorney.
- The accident happened in a construction zone, school zone, or other restricted area.
Auto Accident Lawyers in Media and West Chester, PA
When in doubt, it is always wise to contact a personal injury lawyer after a car crash. An experienced and reputable lawyer will give you an honest evaluation of your circumstances and clearly explain when and if you require representation.
The attorneys of Donaghue & Labrum have been representing victims of car accidents for more than 30 years. Our professionalism, experience, and results are second to none in Delaware County and Chester County. Call or visit one of our convenient offices in Media and West Chester for a free consultation. We will fight aggressively for the maximum compensation for your losses.