After a major car accident, many injury victims wonder, “Should I get a Long Island car accident lawyer? And, if so, when?”
In truth, it can be difficult to predict the exact path your case will take. Some cases can be resolved between insurance companies easily, whereas others can result in significant delays or disputes. The defendant or their insurer may even threaten you with legal action of their own.
The simple answer is that it never hurts to get a lawyer involved after your accident, and generally speaking, earlier is better. Car accident lawyers typically agree to work for no up-front cost in exchange for a portion of the final insurance settlement or court award. Since having a car accident lawyer can improve your chances of obtaining the maximum settlement available, this arrangement is usually to the benefit of the accident victim.
If the claimant is facing possible legal counter-action, then preventing penalties like paying the defendant’s attorney fees is absolutely in their best interest.
To learn more about what a car accident lawyer can do for you, reach out to Carner & DeVita. Call us at 631-543-7070 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation case review.
If you aren’t sure when might be a good time to secure an attorney, below are some examples of situations where talking with a car accident lawyer may be a good idea.
When Your Accident Involves Serious Injuries, Disability, or Death
Insurance companies are usually more motivated to investigate claims and nitpick coverage areas when large sums are involved.
If your accident was serious enough to warrant surgery or hospitalization, or it causes you to lose your ability to perform your normal work for more than a week, then you are more likely to have significant damages.
In these situations, having an attorney provides you with the resources to document all of your damages and prepare for common reasons that an insurer would deny or undervalue your claim.
Since New York is a “no-fault” state, you will be expected to prove that you meet the state’s “serious injury” threshold if you want to pursue a claim against an at-fault driver’s liability insurance. Otherwise, your remedy is limted to your personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, which provides coverage for up to $50,000 in medical expenses, lost wages and other out-of-pocket expense. Proving that you meet the legal standard of a “serious injury” can be difficult, but hiring a Long Island car accident lawyer can give you the knowledge and resources to pursue a much-needed third-party claim.
If the accident in question involved the death of a loved one or it resulted in a permanent disability, then the level of damages may greatly exceed the $50,000 PIP coverage limit. Always speak to an attorney in the event of a death or disability, even if it’s just during a free consultation. The scope of such a case is far too great for the average person with no familiarity with tort law, insurance contract law, and similar legal matters.
Before You Decide on a Dollar Amount of Losses
Starting an insurance claim is relatively easy thanks to innovations like online apps. However, be cautious during the stage of the claim where you declare your damages.
Often, car accident victims underestimate how much the accident will cost them in total. They may get an undervalued quote for a vehicle repair, or they may leave out costs associated with the long-term rehabilitation of an injury.
Hiring a car accident attorney also gives you access to staff with experience documenting damages and estimating their full cost. If you hire a lawyer for your case, they can do far more than just check your math. They can help compile expenses, examine the language of the applicable policy, and seek the maximum amount of damages available. Estimates for projected wage losses or future treatments can be backed up by professional analysis.
All of this preparation is meant to not just deter disputes from insurers, but also to anticipate a possible jury trial if no amicable settlement agreement can be reached.
When Your Accident Involves Multiple Parties or a Business
The average two-car accident can be easily resolved in many situations, so long as no extensive injuries or vehicle damage is sustained.
But when the accident involves multiple parties, things can get complicated. Fault will need to be split among parties, and any level of fault you personally assume will reduce your available award.
Similarly, if the accident involves a commercial vehicle, the company involved will likely want to do everything it can to avoid a large insurance payout. The company and its insurers will inevitably get lawyers involved, which means you should consider hiring an attorney of your own to be on an even playing field.
When Your Claim Keeps Getting Denied
If you can’t reach a reasonable settlement agreement with insurers, it may be time to consult with a knowledgeable car accident attorney on Long Island. You can examine your options for appealing the claim with the benefit of additional evidence or a stronger basis in the policy’s language.
In some cases, you may need to file a lawsuit or engage in alternative dispute resolution to get the results you hope for. Injury claims cases rarely make it to court, but without having a legal professional representing you, you may be unprepared for making a strong argument in your favor.
When You’re Accused of Fault, Fraud, or the Subject of a Countersuit
Insurance adjusters will do anything they can to reduce the value of your award. Sometimes, they will assume you are misleading them or they will allege that you are at fault for the incident instead of their policy-holder.
In extreme situations, the accused at-fault driver will even countersue you, claiming damages from the accident plus damages from any legal action you have brought forth.
Any time you are asked leading questions, receive a notice of an audit of your claim, or get served with a complaint, it’s a good time to “lawyer up.” You must be prepared for the legal maneuvers that might soon come your way. And at the same time, you want to continue to pursue your claim to recover the car accident compensation you need.
When should you get a lawyer after a car accident? As soon as possible!
It’s never too early to get a lawyer involved, but it can sometimes be too late to avoid common mistakes.
If you have questions, speaking to an attorney at Carner & DeVita is absolutely free. We have protected the interests of Long Island injury victims for over 60 years, and we are prepared to represent your case to the best of our abilities.
Schedule your free case review when you call 631-543-7070 or contact us online now.