If you ever get into a car accident, you’ll want to have a good lawyer fighting to get your money to cover any damage or medical bills. In other words, having the right car accident lawyer guarantees a good settlement. In this article, we’ll give you all the essential information on car accident lawyers and what to do in case of a fender bender or a more serious accident.
What Does a Car Accident Lawyer Do?
As you probably already know, there are many different types of lawyers. A car accident lawyer specializes in auto accidents.
Car accident lawyers typically spend seven to eight years getting a higher education. First, they obtain a bachelor’s degree, pass the Law School Admission Test or LSAT, and get admitted to law school. After graduating from law school and acquiring a Juris Doctor degree, they have to take the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination or MPRE before passing the Bar Exam.
In the event of a traffic accident, the auto accident lawyer has the following responsibilities:
- To explain what can be done in that specific situation
- To help the client identify the aspects that make them eligible for compensation
- To gather evidence
- To assist the client with the insurance claim
- To represent the client in court
All in all, as with any type of lawyer, their duty is to act in their client’s best interest. They are supposed to do what is in their power to ensure that the outcome of the case favors the client in the best way possible.
What Should You Do After a Car Accident?
Being involved in a traffic accident can be quite a traumatic experience. At that moment, you may not know what to do, and looking to hire a car accident lawyer would probably be the last thing on your mind. That’s why it’s always better to be prepared before the accident. In this section, we will guide you through the steps you should take in case of a car accident.
1. Stay at the Crash Site
First and foremost, you should never leave the scene after a car crash, even if the vehicles sustained only minor damage and no one is injured. In case you caused the accident, fleeing falls under a hit and run and is considered a criminal offense.
2. Call the Police
If there has been a car accident, you need to report it to the police. Failing to report a fatal accident, one that involves serious injury or damage to the vehicles, constitutes an illegal offense.
In California, for instance, you have 24 hours to contact the police, while the Department of Motor Vehicles can be contacted up to 10 days after the fact. The penalty for failure to inform the police about the accident is between $1,000 and $10,000, and you may even face prison time.
3. Contact a Car Accident Attorney
Hiring an attorney for accidents is optional, but in many cases, it’s in your best interest to do so. If possible, it’s advisable to do your research on the best car crash lawyers before you’re involved in any kind of car accident. That way, you’ll be able to count on expert advice if something goes wrong while you’re behind the wheel.
4. Photograph the Scene
You should take pictures of the car crash if your injuries aren’t preventing you from doing so. This includes any damage to the vehicles but also any injuries you might have sustained. Not only can these photos serve as evidence, but they can also be helpful reminders if you forget any details.
5. Notify Your Insurance Company
Informing your insurance company about the accident is another essential step. You shouldn’t try to negotiate the compensation with the driver, however tempting it may seem.
If you’re not responsible for causing the car accident, you can file an insurance claim. Your car crash attorney can assist you in that process. In case you were injured, you can collect the personal injury protection insurance or PIP.
Keep in mind that there are also comparative negligence laws. These apply in case both parties are at fault. The defendants’ fault can be minimized if it’s found that the plaintiff didn’t follow the traffic regulations.
For instance, if the defendant hit the plaintiff by running a red light, and the latter was speeding, then the plaintiff takes a certain percentage of the blame. Therefore, a plaintiff who takes 30% of the blame collects only 70% of the insurance claim.
The Benefits of Hiring a Car Accident Lawyer
A vehicle accident lawyer has completed all of the necessary steps to become a lawyer and passed the bar exam. Therefore, they are experts in their field and can help you regardless of the type of accident and whether you’re at fault or not. Here is what this kind of lawyer can do for you:
- Give you legal advice
- Protect you from taking the blame if the accident wasn’t your fault
- Help you get a larger compensation
- Assist you in getting a smaller fine in case you caused the accident
- Represent you if the case goes to trial
Therefore, there are many aspects where the assistance of a lawyer is beneficial. Nevertheless, it’s up to you to decide whether you want professional help.
When Should You Contact a Car Accident Lawyer?
There is no law requiring you to hire a vehicle accident lawyer. However, as you’ve seen, there are a handful of benefits to having legal representation after a car accident takes place.
After the vehicle accident occurs, you should contact a car accident lawyer as soon as you can. That way, the lawyer will have access to fresh evidence and, thus, will be able to represent you better.
You should also know that there is a car accident statute of limitations. The term refers to the time limit during which legal proceedings can take place. This time limit depends on the state.
For instance, in California, you may file a personal injury lawsuit up to two years after the accident. When it comes to property or vehicle damage, the statute of limitation extends to three years.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?
Car accident attorneys differ from most other lawyers in that they don’t charge on an hourly basis. Instead, they get paid a contingency fee in case the outcome is favorable for the client.
That fee is the negotiated percentage of the compensation that the client receives. This percentage usually ranges from 33% to 40%. In some cases, it can be as low as 25%. It all depends on the complexity of the case and how long it takes until the settlement is reached.
On a Final Note
Evidently, experienced car accident lawyers can aid their clients regardless of the severity of the traffic accident. They spent at least seven years on average studying to be able to work in this field. Thus, their vast knowledge can help you secure a good settlement.