Car accidents range drastically in severity, and no two collisions are the same. What can amount to a minor fender bender in one case can lead to traumatic injuries in another. This can make the area of car accident law very complex for personal injury lawyers who protect the rights of those hurt in motor vehicle collisions. But we also know that not every situation demands the expertise of an attorney.
The following article will seek to provide guidance about when you might or might not need to hire a lawyer after a car accident. If you have further questions after reading, please feel free to contact our law firm. The Albuquerque car accident lawyers from Buckingham & Vega Law Firm are available to answer questions about how to keep our local roads safe, whether or not we represent you in your car accident case.
When Do I Not Need a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
Should I hire a lawyer for a minor car accident? If you’re asking this question, the damages from your accident may have been minimal enough that you don’t need a lawyer. People involved in very minor motor vehicle collisions can often proceed without legal representation. If you sustained no losses, are confident that you understand your insurance policy, and have smooth communications with your insurance company and the other driver, you will probably be able to handle matters seamlessly and move on with your life.
However—as car accident lawyers—we have an obligation to advise that things can get complicated after a collision. If you find yourself involved in a dispute with an insurance company or the other driver involved in the crash—or if you are afraid that the compensation you are being offered won’t cover your losses—it’s not too late to reach out for legal guidance.
First let’s look at some situations in which an attorney’s help may not be required. If all of the following scenarios apply to your case, it’s probable that you do not need a lawyer.
You Were Not Injured (or Have Very Minor Injuries)
When your personal health does not depend on the outcome of the case, you may not feel the need to contact an attorney. Many car accident victims incur steep medical bills after a crash, but if you are fortunate enough to not suffer any serious injuries, your medical expenses will likely be very minimal. An emergency medical technician (EMT) who responds to the scene of an accident should check you for injuries and make sure there are no broken bones, internal damage, or other issues.
But even if an EMT clears you to return home, and you believe your injuries to be minor, it is highly advisable that you schedule an appointment with your personal care physician (PCP) immediately following the accident. A small scratch may not be a problem, but a latent internal injury can cause major issues down the road. Your doctor can perform a thorough examination to be sure that you did not sustain any hidden injury.
They can also instruct you on how to look for signs of delayed car accident injuries. It’s common for adrenaline and shock to mask injury symptoms after trauma like a car accident, so visiting a medical professional is of upmost importance.
Your Vehicle Was Not Damaged
Just like medical expenses, damage to your vehicle can leave you with costly bills to pay. Be completely sure that your car, truck, SUV, or motorcycle did not sustain any damage before filing your claim with the insurance company. It’s good to have your vehicle examined by a trusted auto mechanic as soon as possible. Photographic evidence can be very helpful in proving whether or not your automobile suffered any harm in the accident. If there is any damage at all, even minor, be sure to keep accurate and thorough documentation to support your claim.
You Fully Understand Insurance and Legal Processes
If you have past legal or insurance experience, you likely have a sufficient base of knowledge to understand the process of filing a claim and what actions to take after a car accident. Whether you have been through the experience of a motor vehicle crash before, or work in the legal or insurance industry, this knowledge can help guide you through the process of financial recovery without the assistance of a car accident lawyer.
However, it’s important to make sure that you are up to date on current legislation, and that you have a comprehensive understanding of the laws specific to your state. New Mexico, like most states, has an extensive and often-changing system of laws that motorists, insurance companies, and personal injury lawyers must understand.
You Have Plenty of Evidence
It’s necessary to have sufficient evidence to successfully support your claim. This could include photographs and video footage, police reports made at the scene of the accident, medical records supplied by your physician, eyewitness reports from credible witnesses, or other types of valid proof to show who was fault and what losses were sustained. If the at-fault party acknowledges liability for the accident, it can make the settlement process much easier. But if there is any dispute about who is liable or what damages were sustained, you may need to contact a lawyer.
How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help After a Collision?
It’s easy to make a mistake when filing a car accident claim. Having a good car accident attorney can significantly increase the chance that you will be able to obtain the full compensation you need to recover your losses. If you sustained any injuries in the car accident, you may find that you need to seek compensation for medical bills, prescription medication, lost wages from time off work, and other expenses.
Additionally, the other party may blame you for the accident and refuse to admit liability. In these cases, it becomes more important to have skilled legal representation, as recovering compensation may be more challenging.
A car accident attorney can help you in the following ways after a motor vehicle crash:
One of the most important steps after a car accident is determining liability. This essentially asks the question: Who was at fault? While it may seem straightforward to you that the other driver made a mistake and you suffered the consequences, the other driver—and their insurance company—may not agree. It’s not always easy to gather the evidence necessary to prove that what you claim happened actually happened.
This is especially true when the other driver’s story contradicts yours. Additionally, as a comparative negligence state, New Mexico state laws recognize that more than one party may be at fault in an accident, and the amount of recoverable compensation will be reduced in proportion to the amount of fault of each party. A lawyer will take all this into consideration so you can receive maximum compensation.
Determine the Amount of Compensation You Should Receive
It’s important to appropriately determine how much compensation you need to recover your losses. If you miscalculate and realize later that a bill amounting to thousands of dollars was unaccounted for, you may be stuck paying this cost out of pocket. A lawyer will look at many factors to calculate the amount you deserve. This means evaluating information about medical and other expenses, out-of-pocket costs, the extent of your injury and any permanent damage, damage to your vehicle and any other property damage, loss of current or future income, pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and many additional factors to calculate an appropriate amount.
Understand State, Local, and Federal Laws
It’s the job of your attorney to understand the complicated matters of federal, state, and local legislation dealing with auto insurance and car accident cases. A skilled car accident lawyer will be able to advise and guide you through the processes of filing forms, following statutes of limitations, understanding New Mexico auto insurance laws, documenting evidence, communicating with insurance companies, and negotiating car accident settlements or representing you in court. These are not issues you should be forced to deal with on your own.
Communicate with Insurance Companies
While many insurance companies work to protect their customers, too many use underhanded methods to save money. Insurance companies are notorious for using every tactic they can to provide car accident victims with as little compensation as possible. These efforts to save the insurance company money by undervaluing your claim will be familiar to your lawyer. It’s very easy for an insurance company to use your own words and actions against you if you do not have adequate representation.
Even when insurance companies truly do their best to help policyholders after an accident, you may not be properly informed about the correct procedures for filing a claim—and you may be denied compensation on a technicality. It’s part of a car accident lawyer’s job to prevent this from happening. We work to make sure that insurance companies act in good faith and provide you what you’re owed.
The Benefit of Having Buckingham & Vega Law Firm on Your Side
We know there are many situations when a car accident attorney is not needed after a crash. But if you decide that the support of a lawyer will give your car accident case the best chance for a successful outcome, we are available to help. When the outcome can affect your physical, emotional, or financial wellbeing, you need to know that there is someone with professional experience in your corner.
We have experience and knowledge that we use to the benefit of every client we serve. Our lawyers take care of the legal matters of your case, so you can give your recovery the attention it deserves.
If you would like to have a conversation about how we may be able to help you after a car accident, reach out to our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys. We will give you an honest opinion about whether your case requires the expertise of a car accident lawyer. We never charge a fee for a discussion about your legal options