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When Should I Contact an Attorney About a Car Accident?

Drivers involved in auto accidents want to know if and when they should contact an attorney. The answer is not clear-cut and depends on multiple factors.

Factors for Determining Whether to Involve Counsel Post-Accident

One of those factors is what happened in the crash. Another factor is whether there were resulting injuries, and if so, what types and who was injured? If neither the driver(s) nor passenger(s) were injured in the crash, it might not be necessary to contact counsel post-accident. If, on the other hand, a driver or passenger(s) has been injured, it may be prudent to contact counsel. It is especially advisable to contact counsel if an injury seems permanent or may result in loss of a significant amount of time from work, school, or home. A personal injury attorney can potentially represent such parties in claims against others involved in the auto accident who might be responsible for injuries suffered.

Is It Necessary to Have Injuries as a Prerequisite to Contacting Counsel?

No, it is not necessary to have injuries to warrant contacting counsel post-accident. The facts and circumstances of the accident may warrant involvement of counsel. The extent of damage resulting from the accident and its severity is a major indicator of whether counsel should be involved. Minor fender benders need not involve counsel. While, damage to multiple cars and hurt passengers and/or drivers is another story. The insurer should be contacted in the latter instances and counsel will likely become involved. At the end of the day, a driver involved in a car accident has to use his or her best judgment in making the determination of whether to involve counsel.

Helpful Benchmarks for When an Attorney Should Be Promptly Contacted Post-Accident

There are instances when a driver involved in a car crash should definitely contact personal injury counsel to get involved in the claims process and resulting litigation. Those circumstances include:

  • A serious injury, such as broken bones, injuries that requires a hospital stay, or ones that seem permanent such as paralysis, occurs.
  • There has been a death as a result of the accident—in such cases, involving counsel is mandatory.
  • Fault or liability is hotly contested.
  • Pedestrians or other cars are involved in the accident, and it is not a single-car accident.
  • The auto accident happened in a construction zone or area.
  • The police report of the accident does not describe the accident accurately or puts the driver at issue at fault.
  • There seem to be technical, legal, or medical issues raised by the accident.
  • A driver has low limits of liability insurance or no insurance.
  • The insurance company claims the driver did not pay his last month of insurance premium before the accident.
  • An auto insurer starts acting differently and giving driver the "cold shoulder" or brings in the company's own attorney into the mix.