How to Find an Attorney After a Car Accident
Being in a car crash is an incredibly frightening and stressful situation. And unfortunately, what comes after is just as stressful: seeking medical help for injuries, repairing damages to your car, and negotiating with your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company to receive fair compensation to cover the costs of medical care, damages and other expenses.
You may need to hire an attorney to help you navigate the claims process and receive the compensation you need to cover expenses. Seasoned car accident lawyers help even the playing field when you’re negotiating with large insurance companies that have an entire team of attorneys at their disposal.
Keep reading to learn when you might need to hire a car crash attorney in Florida and how to find the right one to handle your case.
Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer to Handle Your Claim
All auto insurance companies (including your own) have only one goal: to settle claims for as little amount of money as possible. The more money an insurance company has to pay you for injuries and damages, the less profit the company makes. Insurance providers have a whole team of lawyers and adjusters working behind the scenes to pay out as little as possible for claims.
Now, if you’re in a minor car accident with no injuries and a small amount of car damage, the system may still work in your favor. Your coverage limits will be more than enough to cover the damages and you can receive fair compensation and move on with your life. Unfortunately, that’s not the case in many car accidents. Even minor fender benders can result in serious injuries that require thousands of dollars worth of medical care and treatment.
In injury cases, an attorney will fight for you to receive full and fair compensation for medical expenses, car damages, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional trauma and more. Insurance companies may reach out to you with a settlement offer within days or weeks following your car crash. This is a calculated move to force your hand: the insurance company wants you to accept the settlement offer and sign an agreement giving up all rights to pursue additional compensation.
However, you may not know the full extent of damages at that time. Symptoms of injuries like whiplash, concussions, a head injury, soft tissue injuries and spinal damage may not present for days, weeks or even months after an accident. If you discover new injuries or find out your existing injuries will require additional care after you’ve already accepted a settlement offer, you won’t be able to seek compensation to cover new expenses.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, seek representation from an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Too few citizens have the knowledge and experience to negotiate with big insurance companies over fair recovery. Successful car accident lawyers can communicate with insurance providers on your behalf to ensure that you receive compensation for the true value of your injuries and damages. Many car accident attorneys work on a contingency basis, which means you won’t have to pay them until they win your case. At that point, fees will come out of your settlement amount.
With an attorney handling your case, you’ll have the time you need to heal and recover after a traumatic accident.
When You Need to Hire an Attorney
Not every car accident claim requires hiring an attorney. If there are no injuries or damages, then resolving a claim is a straightforward matter for your insurance company to handle. Additionally, if there are no injuries and only minor damages to your car, paying for attorney’s fees may cost more than the recovery you’ll receive from the insurance company. In these cases, it may not be worth it to hire legal counsel for your claim.
However, there are several situations where you’ll want to speak to an attorney following a car accident. If you are injured at all in a collision — even a minor soft tissue injury, like a strain or sprain — you should consider hiring a lawyer to represent your claim. Even minor car accident injuries can require multiple doctor appointments, rehabilitation and medications, racking up costly medical expenses.
Other cases where you may need an attorney include:
- There are significant injuries, like a broken bone or head injury
- The accident required a hospitalization stay
- There are long-term or permanent injuries (like paralysis)
- Several people involved in the accident were injured
- A pedestrian or bystander was injured
- The accident resulted in a death
- Medical bills add up to several thousand dollars or more
- There are lost wages from missing a few days of work or longer
- There’s a dispute over who’s at fault
- The paperwork (like the police report or insurance claim) isn’t accurate
- There are complicated legal, medical or technical details
How to Find the Right Attorney
You probably see advertisements for car accident lawyers every day on billboards, bus stations, buses, TV, radio, magazines and newspapers. However, you shouldn’t choose an attorney based on the number of ads you see for the firm. In fact, big firms that advertise aggressively likely have thousands of car accident cases at a time and may not be able to give your case the personalized attention it deserves.
Picking the right attorney is a crucial part of ensuring you receive adequate recovery on your claim, so do some research before making a selection. Here are some of the top qualities you should be looking for:
- Referrals. Chances are, someone within your friends and family circle has hired an attorney to handle a car accident. A personal referral is a valuable research tool — your loved ones will only recommend someone they had a successful experience with and they’ll be able to give you some inside details on how the process went.
- Reviews. Look up online testimonials or reviews on attorney websites and lawyer review sites. You may be able to glean some good insight into the average experience other clients had. For example, did most reviewers receive one-on-one attention? Or did they spend weeks just trying to get their attorney on the phone? Of course, you should take all online reviews with a grain of salt: review sites are more skewed toward negative reviews and an attorney’s website will only post positive testimonials. However, if you find a pattern in the types of reviews you read (like the same complaint popping up multiple times), it’s worth taking note of it.
- Experience. Experience and skill level are important factors to take into consideration. The law firm and attorneys working your case should have a proven track record of success managing cases similar to yours and a strong history of fair payouts for these cases.
- Good communication. Always have an in-person consultation with the law firm you’re considering before making a final decision. A face-to-face meeting will give you insight into how the rest of the case will proceed. Did the attorney meet with you personally or send a paralegal? Did he or she ask detailed questions about your accident and injuries or just take down the basic facts with no follow-up? If you get the impression that your injuries, pain and suffering, and claim aren’t valued from the beginning, then seek different legal counsel who will fight to get you the compensation you need to cover your injury and accident expenses.
- Location. Look for an attorney or law firm with offices near you and a history of representing the people in your community. A local attorney will be familiar with court rules and regulations in your area. Additionally, a local attorney who’s worked on car accident cases and who knows the area well will be able to help you find the best medical care and other services you may need.
Many private attorneys and law firms will offer a free consultation, so don’t be afraid to visit several places before you make a final decision.
Integrity Spine and Orthopedics Treats Car Crash Injuries
At Integrity Spine and Orthopedics, our team of board-certified orthopedic surgeons has the training and expertise to diagnose and treat whiplash, concussions, soft tissue injuries, fractures and spinal damage caused by car accidents. We have multiple treatment options in our Jacksonville, Florida, clinics to help you get back on your feet and back to doing the activities you love as soon as possible.
If you’ve been involved in a car accident, call us at 904-456-0017 or fill out our online contact form to request an appointment.
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