Legal Advice You Can Follow After a Car Accident

If you were recently in a car accident, a claim with an insurance company could help you pay your expenses and move on with your life. At the time, your car accident might even seem like no big deal. Perhaps it appeared like a minor fender bender, and you didn’t think you had injuries. However, even minor car accidents can lead to major medical concerns and legal complications.

No matter what kind of car accident you were in, who it was with, or what injuries you sustained, make getting legal advice from a seasoned car accident lawyer your utmost priority. Here’s why.

Your Rights After a Car Accident

Houston Auto Accident AttorneyAfter suffering injuries and damages in a motor vehicle crash, you should know that you have rights. One of your biggest rights is the right to be made whole, or in other words, receive a financial settlement or award to compensate you for your losses. This includes compensation for damages like pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, and loss of enjoyment of life. You have the right not to accept any settlement you feel is unfair and take your claim to court instead.

You also have the right to hire a car accident attorney to represent your claim and protect your interests. If you want to recover full and fair compensation, it’s best to have an attorney on your side as soon as possible. Your attorney can help protect your rights.

What Is Negligence?

Most personal injury cases, including car accidents, have negligence in common. In fact, most of the work involved in such a case is proving the other party was negligent. If you or your car accident lawyer can’t prove their negligence, your case won’t be successful. Negligence refers to a failure to exercise the proper care toward another person, which a reasonable or prudent person should have exercised in similar circumstances.

Proving Negligence

When you hire an experienced car accident attorney, they will work towards establishing the four elements of negligence in your case. No matter what type of car accident you were in or how serious it was, these legal elements remain the same.

The four elements of negligence include:

Duty of Care or Standard of Care

You have to establish that the other party had a duty of care toward you. This is often the easiest element to prove, as many laws already show a duty of care in some situations. For example, driving while drinking or running a red light is illegal.

Breach of Duty

Next, you must show that the other party violated that duty of care. You’ve proven liability if you can establish both duty and breach of duty. In other words, you are showing that the other party is legally responsible for compensating you for your damages.


After you have proven the above elements, you will need to show that the injuries you suffered were a direct result of the other party’s actions. You must establish causation or proximate cause by showing that your injuries came from their actions and not something else. Car accident lawyers often hire expert witnesses, such as physicians, to help support causation.


Finally, you will need to prove that the other party’s conduct caused you actual harm, which can translate into a dollar figure. This element is often the most complex and challenging to prove. Your attorney must show the different types of harm you suffered and express that harm in a monetary value known as damages. Proving your damages will likely require medical bills, wage loss statements, and additional testimony from expert witnesses who can speak to how your injuries impact your life.

Should You Hire a Car Accident Lawyer?

Many car accident victims wonder if obtaining the representation of a lawyer is worth it. However, individuals who suffer a personal injury in a car accident typically receive substantially more compensation than those who attempt to settle their claims independently. Even though you will pay your attorney for their services, they usually increase financial recovery enough that their services pay for themselves and more.

A car accident attorney can bring much value to your claim. Recovering from car accident injuries is often a difficult journey. It isn’t generally one you want to take while trying to represent your legal interests. When you hire a car accident attorney, you can focus on your recovery and healing while they do the heavy lifting for you.

Your lawyer can:

  • Guide you in your legal rights and options
  • Request and review applicable insurance policies
  • Send formal letters of representation to all involved parties
  • Handle the insurance companies on your behalf so that you don’t have to
  • Conduct case investigation and discovery to determine how your injury occurred and who is liable
  • Locate and hire any necessary expert witnesses to help establish your claim
  • Evaluate potential legal issues that might arise in conjunction with your claim
  • Request lost income information
  • Request any related medical records
  • Organize and preserve all accident and claim-related documents and paperwork
  • Collect hospital records and medical bills
  • Participate in alternative dispute resolution at your or the court’s request
  • Negotiate a fair settlement
  • Relay any settlement offers received on your behalf and provide their opinion as to what your claim is worth
  • Prepare for trial
  • Take your claim to trial if needed and present your injury claim in front of a judge or jury
  • Ensure that they take every action for a successful claim

As you can see, car accident lawyers take on countless tasks. Managing your claim alone isn’t recommended for several reasons, including that it can be time-consuming and burdensome. Most injury victims don’t have personal injury legal experience. Lack of experience, time, and effort can be detrimental to your injury claim.

Pursuing your claim with representation from an experienced car accident lawyer will likely result in less stress during this process and increase your chances of obtaining fair compensation for your damages.

When Should You Contact a Car Accident Lawyer?

Stewart J. Guss, Car Accident Attorney
Stewart J. Guss, Car Accident Attorney

Ideally, you should contact a car accident lawyer right away after sustaining such an injury in a motor vehicle collision. Seek emergency medical care if necessary and then contact an injury attorney as soon as possible. There are several reasons for this:

The Statute of Limitations

Different types of personal injuries have various statutes of limitations. These are time limits in which injury victims can file a civil claim. State laws set different statutes of limitations.

Most car accident statutes of limitations are between one and five years of:

  • The date of the injury
  • The date the victim became aware of the injury
  • The date the victim should have reasonably been aware of the injury

If victims don’t file a lawsuit within the legal deadline, they no longer have a right to pursue their claims in court. While it might seem like you have a long time to take action, your car accident attorney will need time to negotiate and prepare your case. The more time you can give them by contacting them as soon as you can after your car accident, the better.

Protection From Insurance Companies

Without the help of an attorney, you are vulnerable to insurance company tactics. While their job is to pay you fair compensation for your injuries, they aim to pay you as little as possible or deny your claim entirely.

They may have an adjuster contact you and attempt to get you to settle for a minimal amount shortly after you file a claim. They may ask for a recorded statement in which they try to get you to say something detrimental to your claim. They may delay your claim or unfairly and illegally deny it.

With a car accident lawyer on your side, you won’t need to speak directly to anyone from the insurance company unless they are present with you. They take care of most communication with them. This protects you from saying anything that might harm your claim.

Insurance companies don’t typically try to delay, unfairly deny claims, or make lowball offers when a claimant has legal representation. They know that most car accident attorneys are well-versed in their unethical tactics and will hold them accountable.

Preserving Evidence

The success of your case depends on the evidence you have to prove the liability of the other party and your injuries. When you hire a car accident attorney, they go to work to gather and preserve valuable evidence in your claim, including witness testimony, accident reports, medical records, videos, and photographs.

If you wait too long to seek legal help, some of this evidence might be lost or destroyed, which won’t help you get the compensation you deserve. When you reach out to an attorney early, they know the necessary evidence in your claim that can easily be lost or destroyed. They will get to work finding and preserving it.

Should You Accept a Settlement From the Insurer?

Insurance companies know that car accident victims often feel a lot of financial pressure to get their bills paid but have little to no income due to their injuries. Accepting a low settlement offer makes more sense to someone who doesn’t know that it’s low and really needs the extra cash right now.

However, it’s in your best interest not to accept any type of settlement for your damages until you’ve had the opportunity to present your case to a knowledgeable car accident attorney. If you agree to anything or sign anything before you do, it can be detrimental to your entire claim. Once you’ve secured legal representation, you can refer anyone from the insurance company to speak to them instead of you.

How Long Will a Car Accident Claim Last?

Car accident claims can take a few months or years to settle. The more complex and detailed the case is, the more likely it will be lengthy. For example, suppose your injuries were minor, and the at-fault party and their insurance company accept responsibility. In that case, your claim can end with a fairly fast settlement. However, if you sustained severe injuries, other people suffered injuries in the same accident, multiple parties were at fault, or you are face blame for your own injuries, your claim might last far longer.

Once your car accident lawyer understands the details of your accident and your claim, they can provide you with an estimate of how long they think your case will last. They can also provide you with the details of what will happen at each step of your claim, especially the ones that will require your help.

See a Doctor

Seeing a doctor, whether in the emergency room or your own primary care physician, after a car accident is critical in getting the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Even if you don’t notice any pain or symptoms, you will want to get an exam. It’s common for some injuries not to reveal symptoms immediately. Still, they are no less serious and vital to your claim.

If you don’t get medical attention within a day or two but later claim that you have a car accident-related injury, the insurance company may deny your claim. This is because they will attempt to blame your injury on something else that occurred after the car accident since there was no immediate medical documentation. Remember that car insurance companies will find any excuse to deny or devalue your claim.

Additionally, you should also be sure to follow the advice of your healthcare providers. For instance, if they tell you to restrict your activity, take time off of work, or go to physical therapy, it’s in the best interest of your health and your legal claim to follow their advice. Doing so shows that you take your injuries and recovery seriously, so the insurance company should too.

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