You might have looked away from the road for a second — or you might have been diligently watching for signs of danger. You might have been falling asleep at the wheel — or you might have been alert and ready to react. Any time you are in a vehicle, you are at risk of an auto collision, which means you might need to prepare for a lengthy and costly lawsuit.
Not every car accident results in a legal battle, but many do. Therefore, before the next time you slide into either the passenger or driver seat, you should know when it’s right to contact legal support.
Call Immediately If…
…there are extraordinary circumstances in the crash. The vast majority of collisions are simple, albeit embarrassing affairs: You tapped a bumper at a stop sign; you grazed a side panel while pulling into a parking space; you clipped another vehicle while merging into one lane. Typically, collisions don’t result in injury or death, and insurance companies will pay to rectify any damages. However, in some collisions, there are unusual conditions that imperil your livelihood.
In these cases, you want to run as fast as you can to your attorney’s office:
- There is a serious injury, especially one that requires hospitalization or may result in permanent impairment.
- There is a death.
- Other parties are involved, such as other drivers or pedestrians.
- There is a debate about fault; for example, if you hit another vehicle, but that car’s driver was not watching the road, the other driver’s compensation might be affected.
- The collision occurred in a construction area.
- There are confusing legal, technical, or medical issues involved.
- The police report does not accurately describe the circumstances, especially if the police wrongfully put you at fault.
- There is insufficient insurance, or you lack insurance altogether.
- Another party involves its legal team. This could include your insurance provider, as well.
In many cases, where you live will change how important each of these conditions is. For example, in Texas, if you are more than 51 percent at-fault for a collision, you cannot file a claim against another party and receive compensation. If you have a question about other Texas-specific driving laws, contact an auto accident attorney in San Antonio.
Call As Soon As Possible If…
…you have other concerns about your collision. If your accident didn’t involve any of those situations mentioned above, you still aren’t in the clear, legally speaking. There are dozens of other reasons you might enlist the aid of a lawyer after you suffer through a crash — but most of them are less pressing, which means you can wait a day or two before contacting an attorney.
You can take your time calling legal assistance in these contexts:
- You are confused about your auto insurance policy.
- You need an expert to review contracts or forms.
- You believe your insurer is acting in bad faith. According to U.S. law, insurance companies owe their clients fair dealing — which is defined differently in every state.
- You need help negotiating with an insurer.
- You are uncertain of your rights.
- You need help determining the value of a claim. Lawyers don’t have an exact algorithm for this, but they can provide estimates that might be enlightening.
It is perfectly sensible for you to begin processing your own claim and turn to a lawyer when issues begin to get complicated. It is better to pay nominal attorney’s fees than misunderstand the claim process and fail to receive your due settlement. Plus, many attorneys offer free initial consultations, which makes visiting one well worth your time.
Don’t Bother Calling If…
…you know who was at fault, your insurance provider is offering no resistance, and any involved injuries are minor. It is important to note that you might not know that your crash involves extenuating circumstances until well after it occurs — but that just means you should call as soon as you are aware of sticky legal circumstances. In any event, you should find an attorney you can trust well before you are in such a tricky situation, so you know who to call as soon as you need to call.