Most people aren’t aware of their rights after an auto accident. Insurance companies use this to their advantage. They may try to get you to admit fault—or cast you as the negligent party—to minimize or dismiss your claim.
A car accident resulting in injuries can quickly become a complicated legal matter. It’s not unusual for more than one party to be at fault. Likewise, one or more insurance companies may be involved. And all of them will be doing whatever they can to pay you as little as possible for your claim and may even line up against you. This blog entry presents 16 FAQs that speak to why you should hire a car injury lawyer as soon as you can after an accident. Among them:
In what situations should you hire a car injury attorney?
Why should you hire a car injury lawyer?
What are “delayed” or “late-appearing” injuries?
What are endorphins?
What are some categories of “delayed” or “late-appearing” injuries?
Do you need a car-crash lawyer for minor injuries?
What should you do after an accident?
What evidence is used to support a car-accident claim?
How long after an accident do you have to hire a car accident attorney?
What is a settlement?
What is a car settlement worth?
What specifically can I recover in a car accident injury claim?
How much time does a car accident lawsuit require?
What types of car accidents can personal injury lawyers handle?
How quickly can I get a settlement for a car-crash personal injury claim?
How much does it cost to hire a car-crash attorney?
1. In what situations should you hire a car injury attorney?
You should hire a personal injury lawyer who has specific skills with car injuries whenever you or your passenger(s) are injured in a car accident, no matter how minor that injury might initially seem (see 3).
2. Why should you hire a car injury lawyer?
Paying the least possible amount to settle your claim is the business model for insurance companies. So a big part of the job for their claim adjusters is saving money for their company, and they're typically experts at getting you to say things that will weaken the credibility of your claim.
This is why you should never speak directly to anyone who works for the insurance company(s) representing the party or parties who are at fault for your accident. Instead, you should refer all questions to your auto accident attorney, who’ll leverage his or her knowledge and skills to counter insurance company tactics.
Remember, insurance companies have massive resources and lots of attorneys dedicated to working against your best interests. Such is the adversarial nature of the law. Insurance companies have attorneys, and you need one, too. It’s not wise to go it alone. Engage a personal injury attorney to protect your legitimate interests.
3. What are “delayed” or “late-appearing” injuries?
The term “delayed injuries” (aka “late-appearing injuries”) is somewhat a misnomer because they’re not delayed at all. Instead, they’re just not immediately noticed.
When it comes to car wrecks, people assume that the greater the speed and consequent impact, the more serious any injuries might be.
For the most part, this is true. But the opposite isn’t. A low-speed crash causing little or no damage to cars or property can nonetheless result in seriously debilitating injuries—some of them lifelong.
But how and why is that injury “delayed?” Blame your endorphins (see 4).
4. What are endorphins?
Immediately after an injury, even a minor one, your body reacts by producing endorphins, which are hormones secreted within the brain and nervous system to temporarily quell pain as you either “fight or flee” after a trauma.
In fact, the word “endorphin” is a contraction of the two words “endogenous morphine,” where “endogenous” means “growing or originating from within an organism.” And “morphine” (of course) is a well-known narcotic.
Endorphins wear off rapidly. This is why minor injuries typically hurt more down the road than when they actually happened. Hence the “delay.” And so an injury that initially seems minor can turn out to be a serious one later on.
5. What are some categories of “delayed” or “late-appearing” injuries?
After the first few days or weeks of your traffic accident, injuries that initially seem minor can turn out to be more serious than you thought (see 3). Some serious injuries that can make themselves known days after a car crash include:
Soft-tissue injuries. Trauma to your muscles, ligaments, and tendons can manifest in pain, swelling, bruising, and physical damage. Soft-tissue injuries are classified as contusions, sprains, tendonitis, bursitis, stress injuries, and strains. Whiplash—a common injury from rear-end accidents—is a soft-tissue injury.
Herniated discs. Also known as a slipped, ruptured, or bulging disk, its symptoms can be significant neck, back, and/or leg pain.
Concussions. This is a traumatic brain injury that can cause headaches, as well as problems with concentration, memory, balance, and coordination. Some concussions can cause you to lose consciousness.
Carpal tunnel results in pain, numbness, and tingling in the arm and the hand. Any trauma to the wrist that causes swelling and compression of the median nerve can cause traumatic carpal tunnel syndrome.
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder. Commonly referred to as TMJ, this is a class of disorders affecting the jaw joints, as well as the surrounding muscles and ligaments. Symptoms are jaw tenderness, headaches, earaches, and facial pain.
Emotional harm. This is mental suffering that arises from the effect or memory of an accident and can manifest as anxiety, depression, loss of ability to perform tasks or physical illness.
6. Do you need a car-crash lawyer for minor injuries?
When a crash involves vehicles that are traveling very slowly, and little or no property damage occurs, victims can nonetheless suffer significant injury and pain, particularly whiplash and other neck injuries (see 4).
Many serious injuries seem minor immediately after they happen, only to manifest their severity days after a car crash. This is why, if you’ve absorbed any sort of physical impact in a crash, you should consult a car accident attorney as soon as you can.
7. What should you do after an accident?
Follow these steps after you’ve been in a car accident:
Contact the police. They’ll investigate the scene to try to determine who was at fault. They’ll also provide official documentation of the accident.
Exchange contact information with the other driver, including name, address, insurance company, and license number.
If there were any witnesses to the accident, get their names and phone numbers.
If you can, take your own cell phone photos of the crash scene to document your narrative about the accident.
Don’t leave the scene until you’re dismissed by the police. Leaving without talking to officers not only weakens your claim but can also result in criminal charges.
Seek medical treatment. This isn’t just for your own health and well-being. Your doctor visits will also create a record of your injuries suffered from the accident.
Notify your insurance company as soon as possible. If the other driver was at fault, your insurance company will contact his or her insurer.
Retain and organize all receipts and records from your accident so they can be used to support your claim.
Make sure not to admit fault in any way. Never sign any documents that aren’t from the police or your own insurance agent.
Don’t discuss your accident on social media.
8. What evidence is used to support a car-accident claim?
Your car accident attorney is skilled at collecting, organizing, and presenting the kinds of evidence needed to support your claim. This includes, but isn’t limited to:
Accident scene photos
Damaged vehicle photos
Data from vehicles’ event data recorders
Electronic evidence (E.g. cell phone records)
Manufacturer records and recall information
Medical and work records
Police crash reports
9. How long after an accident do you have to hire a car accident attorney?
It’s best to retain a car accident lawyer as soon as you can after a crash. Evidence is time-sensitive, and it rapidly fades from memory. Vehicles are moved. Eyewitnesses forget. The longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes to gather evidence to build your case.
You also must consider your state’s statute of limitations. If you wait too long, you might become ineligible to bring legal action against the other driver.
Many injuries resulting from a car accident don’t manifest until well after the event. You might require expensive treatments for years. But if you’ve let the statute of limitations expire, then you have no chance to be compensated for your bills, pain, suffering, and emotional stress (see 3).
10. What is a settlement?
A settlement is a monetary amount negotiated for you by your attorney with the party responsible for your accident (or probably their insurer) rather than going to trial. The vast majority of cases are settled in order to avoid the time, cost, and stress of a trial on both parties: you (the plaintiff) and the party responsible for your injury or accident (your defendant).
11. What is a car settlement worth?
Each claim is unique, its value depends on many different factors. A car accident settlement should take into account the cost of your present and future medical treatment, the severity of your injuries and those of your passengers, damage to your car, lost income or lost wages, eyewitness testimony, police reports, and more.
In contrast, insurance companies like to use formulas to settle “your type of claim,” thereby offering you a quick settlement and minimal payout. Asking them nicely for more money doesn’t work. You need an attorney who’s particularly skilled in the law surrounding automobile accidents—and savvy about insurance company tactics.
12. What specifically can I recover in a car accident injury claim?
Depending on how your injuries impact your life and that of your family, you might be entitled to several different types of damages. These include but aren’t limited to:
Repair or loss of your vehicle, or for its diminution in value.
Medical expenses incurred or expected to be incurred. As some injuries don’t initially manifest or might require additional medical care down the road, if you think you might have been injured, you should get a thorough medical examination immediately following the accident.
Lost wages and future wage loss are reasonably expected to be incurred. This includes compensation for lost work due to hospital stays, mobility problems, PT/OT sessions, or other factors that interfere with earning your usual wages.
Mental, emotional, and physical pain and suffering. These damages consider the type of injury, the seriousness of the pain, and the likelihood of future pain attributable to that injury.
Possible punitive damages. These are “exemplary damages” awarded to punish a defendant and effectively make an example of him or her, thereby deterring the defendant as well as others from conduct similar to what instigated the lawsuit.
Loss of affection or companionship. If your injuries prevent showing affection or having sexual relations, your spouse can make derivative claims for loss of consortium. Likewise, if your spouse is killed in a car accident, you and other family members can seek compensation for the general impact of the loss.
13. How much time does a car accident lawsuit require?
This varies depending on your state and jurisdiction. In general, it might take anywhere from a few months to one-or-two years. Factors include determining your loss of income; the cost of your past, present, and future medical treatments; whether fault has been admitted or determined; the insurance companies involved; the time needed to assemble your case; and more.
14. What types of car accidents can personal injury lawyers handle?
A personal injury attorney who’s skilled in the law affecting car crashes, as well as savvy about insurance company tactics, can help you with the entire gamut of vehicular accidents and injuries. These include:
Driving while drunk, drugged, or drowsy
Driving while texting or otherwise distracted
Uber, Lyft, and ridesharing accidents
Speeding and/or reckless driving
Accidents attributable to vehicle defects or faulty equipment
Highway construction accidents
Head-on, rear-end, and side-impact collisions
Self-driving car accidents
15. How quickly can I get a settlement for a car-crash personal injury claim?
It’s understandable that you might want to reach a settlement as quickly as possible. But it shouldn’t be your primary concern. Be very wary of law firms that take on as many cases as possible, speed each client through the process, and settle quickly.
Such attorneys do a very profitable business by potentially “rushing to settlement,” which is facilitating deals that are very attractive to defendants—and then framing that settlement as the best monetary outcome you could have received.
This results in a smaller award for you. It also results in less case-by-case profit for the law firm. But by doing a large number of cases this way, they realize large profits over time, “making it up in volume.”
In sum “rushing to settlement” is great for an unscrupulous law firm—but bad for you, as well as your needs and rights for adequate representation and compensation.
16. How much does it cost to hire a car-crash attorney?
At Galindo Law, our car-crash attorneys charge no upfront or out-of-pocket fees. We’re only paid a percentage of the compensation we’re able to secure for you. So by working with Galindo Law, you incur zero financial risk—with nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Contact Galindo Law today if you or a loved one have suffered major or minor injuries in an automobile collision.
Remember that proper compensation for pain and damages consequent to an auto accident is your right. You’re not asking for charity. You deserve to be adequately compensated for your loss.
Or, if you prefer, email us. And thank you for reading our blog!