The short answer is YES!
That was probably the answer you expected to hear, especially from a personal injury attorney, but my reasons are probably not what you’re expecting.
- A good personal injury lawyer can empower you to solve some of the problems arising from the collision yourself.
Not everybody who has been in a collision needs to hire and pay a lawyer right away. But if you’ve been in a car accident, there are things you need to know, questions you need answered, and real-world problems that you need to solve. For instance:
- How does insurance work?
- How do I get my medical bills paid?
- What happens to my car? How do I get it fixed? Who pays for the damage?
- Whose insurance company should pay for the property damage and medical bills?
- When should I use my own insurance?
- Should I accept a settlement from the other driver’s insurance company?
- Should I even talk to the other driver’s insurance company or adjuster?
A good personal injury lawyer can give you the information you need to answer your questions that will help you solve those problems that you can clear up yourself. Let’s look at two real-world examples:
Jackie called because she had been injured when another driver ran a stop sign and struck the car in which she was a passenger. She needed extensive medical treatment, but her health insurance didn’t cover everything. She had already spent a lot of money out-of-pocket, was maxing out her credit cards, and the other driver’s auto insurance wouldn’t pay any of her bills until she was done with treatment and they had completed their investigation. I recommended that she ask her friend, the owner of the car in which she was a passenger, to check his auto insurance policy for an optional coverage called Medpay, which is a no-fault coverage that can help an injured person weather the expenses of medical treatment while those expenses are being incurred and before a resolution can be reached on any liability claim the injured person might have against the other driver. Jackie’s friend did have Medpay and she was able to use that coverage to recoup some of the cost of her medical treatment and pay down her credit card balances.
Scott’s car had been totaled and the other driver’s insurance company was taking forever to investigate his claim and wouldn’t pay for his car until they were done with their investigation. During this period, Scott was without a ride and had to rely on Metro and Uber to get everywhere… work, the gym, errands, and to social outings. We talked about his insurance coverages and when it makes sense to use them. He had collision coverage and I explained that using it to pay for his car was the path of least resistance and, under his circumstances, was unlikely to increase his premiums because his insurance company had a right to go after the other driver’s insurance to recoup what it paid him for his vehicle. Scott got his car fixed and was out and about again.
- A good personal injury lawyer can give you advice on dealing with insurance adjusters and avoiding pitfalls and mistakes that can torpedo your claim.
When you start dealing with insurance companies, you may wonder:
- Who should I talk to?
- Who should I not speak to?
- What should I say or not say?
- Do I have to give a recorded statement?
- Should I sign the documents they send to me?
The overwhelming majority of insurance adjusters are honest people and are not trying to trick you . . . but some are. It’s important to remember, even when dealing with honest adjusters, that it is generally not their job to look out for your best interests.
A good personal injury attorney can give you valuable advice on dealing with insurance companies and adjusters to help you avoid some of the mistakes and tricks that can undermine or extinguish your claim.
For example, Juan was injured when his truck was hit head-on by another driver in the middle of the night on a back road. Immediately after the impact, the other driver started to back away as if he intended to flee the scene. Though he was in pain, Juan got out of his truck as quickly as he could to take a picture of the other car’s license plate. Juan, for whom English is a second language, subsequently gave a recorded statement to the other driver’s auto insurer. In that statement, he said “yes” when asked if his back hurt after he “jumped” out of his truck to take the picture. The insurance company then denied his claim, contending that his back was not hurt in the collision, but when he “jumped” out of his truck to take the picture.
Juan hired me, we filed a lawsuit and, after extensive litigation, obtained a favorable result. Had he contacted a lawyer before giving a recorded statement, he might have been better prepared before he spoke with the adjuster and, perhaps, have avoided that long and distressing struggle.
- A good personal injury attorney can explain the relevant law to you, assess the facts of your case and determine what additional investigation should be done to obtain the evidence needed to substantiate your claim.
Even if you are dealing with an honest adjuster, your claim can be denied if you do not understand the relevant law, how it might apply to the facts of your case, and what evidence or information you need to support your claim.
Raj is an endearing man in his young 70’s who enjoyed taking his daily walks around his neighborhood. On one such walk he was struck by a car while crossing a heavily-trafficked intersection near his house. He was knocked unconscious, suffered a traumatic brain injury, and could not recall how the collision occurred. The driver told the police that he was turning left on a green arrow, that Raj was crossing against the light, and was not in the crosswalk, an allegation that the officer believed was corroborated by the fact that when he arrived on the scene, he found Raj on the ground about 10 yards away from the crosswalk. The driver’s insurance company denied Raj’s claim contending that Raj contributed to causing the collision by attempting to cross the street against the light and outside of the marked crosswalk.
Raj’s family hired me, and, in my investigation, I obtained the report from the EMTs who noted damage to the windshield and hood of the car that hit Raj, suggesting that his body was thrown up on the hood by the impact. They also noted the location of the car after it came to a stop, which suggested that Raj was, in fact, struck in the crosswalk and was carried beyond it by the car before it came to a stop. Photos I took of the scene also demonstrated that the intersection was so wide open, visually, that an observant driver could not have missed seeing Raj whether he was in the crosswalk or a few feet outside it. We submitted this information to the driver’s insurance company and the case resolved without need for a lawsuit.
So, if you’ve been seriously injured in a car accident, it never hurts to talk to a personal injury lawyer, and often it can definitely help.
About the Bergeron Law Firm
Bergeron Law is a personal injury practice serving the Northern Virginia area. Our mission is to provide all our clients with the highest quality of legal representation and unsurpassed dedication and customer service.
Steve Bergeron understands that a successful attorney-client relationship depends on his ability to understand each client’s needs and objectives. Bergeron Law will be there for you with the information, advice, and advocacy you need to help you get back to your life.