When to Get a Lawyer After a Car AccidentBy Gabriel Levin on July 1st, 2019
Being involved in a car accident can be a trying ordeal. Fortunately, the vast majority of car accidents are minor fender benders with little, if any, property damage and no injuries. Yet, more serious accidents occur, causing more damage, injury, and in the worst case scenarios, death. It’s obvious you need an attorney if you had to lay in a hospital bed for six months and missed weeks of work. Yet, what about the accidents that fall in the middle of that range between catastrophic injuries and those that produce no injuries?
We cannot tell you exactly when you need a car accident injury attorney, but we encourage you to consult one if you are in doubt. Most personal injury attorneys offer free consultations via phone or in person, giving you the opportunity to find out if hiring them could benefit you. There are, however, some situations after a car accident where it’s almost always in your best interest to get a lawyer. We address some of them below.
Insurance Company Issues
Pennsylvania is one of about a dozen U.S. states with no fault insurance. In no-fault insurance states, injured parties file a claim under their mandatory personal injury protection (PIP) policies to receive compensation for injuries and lost wages. Pennsylvania requires mandatory medical benefits coverage for $5,000, which does not cover any lost wages. Pennsylvania also offers the option to opt out of the no-fault system.
Under Pennsylvania’s financial responsibility laws about insurance, you must decide if you want a limited tort option or a full tort option. A limited tort option gives you the right to sue another for economic damages after a car accident, but not pain or suffering; you have unlimited rights to sue for damages with the full tort option. These factors, as well as certain insurance company behaviors, are arguably the most common reason you will need a lawyer after a car accident:
- You have filed a claim under your medical benefits policy and exceeded the policy limit.
- Your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company has denied your claim.
- The other driver’s insurance company makes you a quick settlement offer.
Car accident injury attorneys are used to dealing with insurance adjusters and carriers who sometimes push ethical boundaries when they make it difficult for accident victims to recover damages. An attorney will ensure your claim doesn’t get denied for some dubious technical reason. Additionally, lawyers have experience negotiating with insurance companies and won’t leave money on the table. When a carrier has investigated a car accident and knows their policyholder is at fault, they try to avoid a large claim payout by offering a quick settlement to entice you to sign away your right to sue for damages. These offers are attractive, but typically much lower than what you deserve. An attorney can investigate your accident and use all the leverage at their disposal to increase the amount of a settlement offer.
The term severe is broad and unclear when thinking of injuries, so you might not know if your injury is severe or not. If you sustain soft tissue injuries such as a sprain or strain, it’s highly unlikely you will need legal counsel. Yet, many other injuries you might consider as minor still warrant a meeting with an attorney, at the very least. For example, a broken bone, a bump on the head, or anything causing severe physical pain. You most definitely should get a lawyer if you were unconscious and paramedics transported you to the hospital via ambulance, you had to spend days or weeks hospitalized, or you’ve suffered obvious severe injuries including paralysis and amputation. Even if you have limited tort insurance in Pennsylvania, you might be able to seek non-economic damages for the most severe injuries.
Significant Time Away from Work
If you have suffered injuries in a car accident requiring you to miss significant time away from work due to treatment, hospitalization, and/or recovery, you most likely have used or will use all of your paid time off. Losing household income from an accident can devastate households, or at least create unneeded additional stress. Insurance companies don’t like paying claims and will take every attempt to devalue your claim; one way to do this is by undervaluing your time away from work. They will downplay your injuries and suggest you took more time away from work than necessary for healing and recovery. Car accident attorneys understand serious injuries require physical and mental rest and they can enlist the help of experts to support your claim and make sure you get compensated for the days you missed from work.
Delayed Discovery of Your Injury
It’s in your best interest to get checked out by a doctor after a car accident to ensure you have medical documentation for any injuries. Yet, some injuries don’t show symptoms for days or weeks. This is most common with head injuries. The impact of a collision causes a jolt to the head or a victim might hit their head during the crash. In either case, the result might be a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Moderate to severe TBIs can lead to chronic lifelong problems with cognitive function, emotions, and a wide variety of other issues related to brain function. When children are car accident victims, even a mild concussion can cause developmental issues. If you discover an injury related to the car accident days, weeks, or months, after the accident, an attorney can help build your case and fight insurance companies who will claim the accident did not cause the injury.
Contact an Experienced Attorney for More Information
The aftermath of a car accident can challenge anyone. You might deal with accumulating medical bills, lost income from missing work, and the physical pain of injury and recovery. If you think you might need to get a lawyer, call The Levin Firm today at The Levin Firm online, or by phone at (215) 825-5183 before it’s too late. You only have two years from the date of injury to take legal action in Pennsylvania.