We often get asked if hiring a lawyer is necessary for minor car accidents. Does a small fender bender require you to hire an attorney? It’s a loaded question because every accident is different.
Nobody wants to end up in a car accident, but as the word accident implies, these things just happen. Some are from negligence while others couldn’t have been avoided.
To help you decide whether you should hire a lawyer for your minor car accident, we’re going to cover different areas of this type of personal injury law so you can decide what the best decision for you might be.
What To Do if There’s a Minor Car Accident
Regardless of who’s at fault, there are certain steps you need to take if you’re involved in a car accident. We’ll go over these steps so you’re prepared if you end up in a minor accident.
Step #1 Get Out of the Way of Any Traffic
Even when the smallest of auto accidents occur, you should never leave the scene of the accident without exchanging information with the other driver.
Step #2 Make Sure No One Needs Medical Attention
Once you’re out of the way of other vehicles, you need to check that no one in your car needs emergency medical attention. Since this is just a minor accident, more than likely, you and your passengers should be fine.
Check to make sure no one in the other vehicle needs medical attention either.
If anyone is severely injured, dial 911.
Step #3 Make a Police Report
One of you will need to notify the police of the accident to make an official report. Some police officers will take the report over the phone for minor accidents while others may want to come out to the scene.
Never admit even the smallest bit of fault for the car accident. This can be held against you later.
Step #4 Exchange Information
You need to exchange information with the other driver. This information will include their name, a phone number to contact them, and car insurance information including their policy number.
If possible, it helps to take photos of both cars to show any damage that occurred from the accident.
Call the car insurance company as soon as possible to file an insurance claim.
Step #5 Speak to a Lawyer
You need to evaluate the accident to decide if you should hire a lawyer. If you think you might need someone on your side, you’re going to want to speak to a lawyer right away.
The minute you or the other party report the accident, insurance companies are going to try to protect themselves so they can pay you as little as possible, if anything at all.
Keep in mind; there is a statute of limitations for car accidents that resulted in injuries. Each state has its own laws regarding how long the statute of limitations is.
Some states only give you a year to file a lawsuit while others give you up to six years.
Common Car Accident Injuries
If you’ve been injured, even if it’s as a result of a minor car accident, you need to make a doctor’s appointment right away. If the injury is going to be ongoing, you’re going to need to hire a lawyer.
A small bump on your head can turn fatal if not checked out. A strained back could leave you with chronic pain for the rest of your life.
The most common car accident injuries include:
- Brain injuries like concussions or brain damage
- Head injuries like deep bruising or lacerations
- Chest injuries like contusions or broken ribs
- Arm and leg injuries like broken bones or lacerations
- Muscle and tendon injuries like whiplash and strained neck muscles
What Happens If There’s a Fatal Car Accident
Unfortunately, some car accidents can end in serious injury and even worse, death. It’s important to understand what happens next when an accident ends fatally for someone you love.
You may have a case for a wrongful death lawsuit against the other driver if you believe or know they were at fault for the accident. If you can prove that if they hadn’t been negligent, there wouldn’t have been a death.
If the police suspect that the other driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs, there will be criminal charges placed against them.
Fatal accidents are traumatic, and you’re going to need time to grieve. There are also many costs associated with the loss of someone’s life, which is why monetary compensation for your loss is so important.
Tip #1 Gather Evidence
Before the mess is cleaned up, you’ll want to head to the scene to gather evidence so you can piece together what happened.
Taking photos of the positioning of both vehicles and the damage will help you later on down the road. Get copies of your loved one’s medical records from the ER to prove that the accident was the cause of their death.
Tip #2 Hire a Lawyer
You’re going to want to hire a car accident lawyer or personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
You want to be quick, but you don’t want to hire just any lawyer. Make sure your lawyer has experience in this type of law and that they have a good track record with wrongful death lawsuits.
For wrongful death lawsuits, the statute of limitations varies from state to state. For most states, you have two years before your time to file a wrongful death lawsuit is up.
What Your Lawyer Means About Contingency Fees
Once you’ve discussed your case with a lawyer, they’re going to bring up their contingency fee.
To put it simply, a contingency fee is what you pay your lawyer if you win your case and you receive your deserved compensation. Most personal injury lawyers go by a contingency fee plan for their clients.
If you lose your case, you aren’t out an enormous amount of money just to go to court. This is why lawyers are adamant about knowing every detail of your case before accepting it. They need to know there’s a big chance of winning your case.
Most personal injury lawyer contingency fees are a third of the amount of money you receive. But it can vary from lawyer to lawyer.
Even minor car accidents can be frightening. That’s why it’s important to know if you’re going to need a lawyer. As a rule of thumb, if you’ve been hurt, you’re going to want a lawyer on your side to fight for you.