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Why You Need to Call a Lawyer Right Away After a Car Accident

The sooner you get legal representation, the better

When you’re reeling in the aftermath of a car wreck, you need to keep your wits about you and take action to protect your health and safety. That means moving to a safe location if necessary to avoid a secondary collision. It also means calling emergency services and getting medical attention right away.

You also need to act quickly to protect your legal rights. That means you should call a lawyer as soon as possible, even from the scene of the crash. Getting a lawyer involved right away is the most important thing you can do to protect your interests in a potential insurance claim or lawsuit. Here’s why.

Evidence needs to be collected and preserved before it disappears

Winning a car accident lawsuit or negotiating a favorable settlement requires evidence. The insurance company won’t just pay up because you tell them to; they must see proof that their insured driver caused the crash that left you with an injury. That means you need evidence, and much of that evidence will disappear fast if an attorney doesn’t act quickly.

For instance, video footage of the accident, when available, can be a game-changer. If a jury can see exactly what happened, on camera, that is exceptionally valuable evidence in support of your claim. However, video footage is often lost or overwritten quickly. Many security cameras only store footage for 24 to 72 hours. Videos taken by private individuals can likewise be lost or deleted at any time. However, if an attorney intervenes promptly, that footage can be preserved to support your potential claim.

Physical evidence from the scene, such as skid marks, also plays an important role in car accident cases. Again, this evidence doesn’t last long before it’s washed away by time and weather. That’s why it’s important to take pictures of the scene as soon as possible after the wreck. It’s also why you need to call an attorney who can preserve that evidence for you.

Another key piece of evidence is witness testimony. People who saw what happened can provide powerful evidence in support of your claim or lawsuit. However, over time, witnesses may forget what they saw. They also may move away or otherwise become difficult to reach. The sooner your attorney talks to everyone with relevant information, the stronger your case will be.

Your attorney can start dealing with the insurance company on your behalf immediately

After a car accident, the insurance companies get involved with one goal in mind: paying out as little as possible, by any means necessary. When an insurance company, even your own, talks to you about a car wreck, they’re looking to protect their own interests. That means they’re trying to get any information they can use against you, whether that’s implicitly admitting fault for the crash or downplaying your injuries.

No matter how careful you are, when you talk to an insurance company yourself, you are going to be at a disadvantage. Their adjusters and representatives handle claims every day, and they are adept at finding information that will help their employer reduce its liability. The only way to level the playing field is to have an experienced attorney who knows the system and the process on your side.

There are a few specific interactions with the insurance company where you absolutely need an attorney on your side. First, if the insurance company asks for a statement about the accident, make sure you work with your lawyer to craft a written statement that accurately tells your side of the story and protects your legal rights. Second, if you get a settlement offer, you absolutely must talk to your attorney before accepting it. Once you accept the insurance company’s money, that’s it; your case is settled, and you can’t go back for more.

Really, though, the best thing you can do after a car accident is to retain an attorney to handle all interactions with the insurance company on your behalf. One of the first things your lawyer will do is reach out to the insurance company to let them know you are now represented by counsel. From that point forward, communications must go through your lawyer. That means your attorney is well-positioned to protect your rights while you focus on getting better.

There are important legal deadlines that must be met

Every state has a legal deadline, called the statute of limitations, to file a lawsuit. If you miss this deadline, you can’t get compensation for your injuries.

In Texas, the statute of limitations for most car accident claims is two years from the date of the crash. That might seem like plenty of time, but in some circumstances, there are shorter deadlines that can affect your case. Furthermore, building a winning case takes time. If you wait until the statute of limitations has nearly elapsed, it may not be possible for an attorney to put you in the right position to succeed. The best practice is to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible to maximize the amount of time you have to decide what to do and execute that plan properly.

The sooner you call a lawyer, the sooner you get peace of mind

You have a lot on your mind after a car wreck. You’re dealing with medical treatment and an uncertain financial situation if you can’t work. You might need to repair or replace your vehicle. You’re in pain and unable to enjoy the activities you love. When you’re in the midst of rebuilding your life, the last thing you need is to deal with the insurance company and the legal process.

The sooner you talk to an attorney, the sooner you get advice from someone who has been through this process many times and knows what to expect. That goes beyond strictly legal representation: you have someone in your corner who you can count on to guide you through that process. Your lawyer can take the paperwork off your plate and help point you in the right direction as you figure out how to move forward from the wreck.

Remember, it costs nothing to talk to a car accident attorney about your rights and options

If you’re concerned about the cost of hiring a car accident lawyer, as many people are, remember that we work on a contingency fee basis. This means you don’t have to pay us a cent up front or out of pocket. If we win your case, our fee is a percentage of your recovery. If we don’t win, you don’t owe us anything. It’s that simple.

Furthermore, remember that we offer a free consultation, with no pressure to hire us or take any particular course of action. Our conversation is fully confidential, and you’ll get answers about your rights and options under Texas law and how we might be able to help. The best time to call an attorney after a car crash is as soon as possible. The next-best time is right now. Give us a call or contact us online to speak with an experienced car accident lawyer at Smith & Hassler.

Click here to download a printable PDF of this article, “Why You Need to Call a Lawyer Right Away After a Car Accident.”

Smith & Hassler

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Houston, TX 77008
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