If you’re asking yourself “should I wait to hire an attorney?”, the answer is almost universally “No!”, especially when it is in regards to a car accident. There are a myriad of reasons why I would suggest that too. These reasons are usually associated with several commons myths. Below I’ve listed a handful of common myths, along with their corresponding truths, to help you make the best decision regarding your auto accident claim.
Myth 1: The Insurance Company Says They Are Still Investigating Liability.
“My insurance company told me they are still investigating liability. Until they determine fault, I guess I should wait before I hire an attorney.”
False! It is never a good idea to wait on an insurance company before hiring an experienced auto accident attorney. Insurance companies can be “investigating liability” almost indefinitely. This is a tactic they use, often to string people along, hoping that they will forget to follow up and run the clock out on their claim. Additionally, an experienced auto accident attorney will run their own liability investigation. This includes requesting records/photos/footage, speaking to witnesses and obtaining sworn affidavits, and gathering other important documentation.
The longer you wait to hire an experienced auto accident attorney, the longer you prevent them from gathering evidence to help YOU prove that you were not at fault. The more time that passes, the more likely it is that witnesses may forget or move and become hard to track down, and the more likely that photos and footage of the accident or its aftermath may be deleted.
Myth 2: The Police Said It Was My Fault
“When the police arrived at my auto accident, they deemed me at fault. I think the other driver was at fault but the police report says I am. There must be nothing I can do.”
False! Call an attorney if you think you weren’t at fault or think the police report was wrong! We have had a number of cases that, for various reasons, the police either chose not to assign fault or assigned fault to the wrong party. We recently helped a young man named Ryan L who experienced this same challenge!
Ryan was 16 at the time of the accident. He was driving home from school when a school bus pulled out in front of him, causing a collision. When the police arrived however, they favored the bus driver even though it was clearly the bus driver’s fault. At first glance, it’s easy to see where the officer was coming from. He was leaning towards the younger driver being at fault and not wanting to jeopardize the bus driver’s job at the same time.
It is not uncommon for a local officer to portray the accident in a police report in ways that favor a fellow municipal employee. This often leads to inaccurately attributed fault to the other driver. It does not necessarily mean that the officer is doing anything purposefully nefarious, it is just one of the many ways that bias (even unconscious bias) can affect an investigation that is meant to be impartial. In Ryan’s case, the officer improperly estimated Ryan’s speed at 40 mph in a school zone, based on a set of skid marks found near the scene.
Good Thing Ryan’s Family Knew To Call A Personal Injury Lawyer ASAP
Good thing Ryan’s family knew to call an experienced auto accident attorney to help their son. It seemed obvious to the family that Ryan was not at fault. However they needed help proving this to the insurance company (who were relying on the police report that tried to blame Ryan for the accident). Not only did our expert personal injury lawyers prove Ryan wasn’t at fault and win him a settlement for his injuries, but we also connected him with an experienced traffic attorney through our professional network and got his traffic ticket removed. This was especially important in this case, because Ryan had been charged with Negligent Driving, which would have a significant fine on Ryan, but also would have dramatically increased his insurance premiums.
Myth 3: I Don’t Have Health Insurance
“I don’t have health insurance. I don’t have the money to get treatment out of pocket either. If I can’t pay for my treatment then I guess I shouldn’t go and should wait before I hire an attorney.”
False! Just because you don’t have health insurance, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get treatment for your injuries! An experienced car accident lawyer can get you in touch with health providers who won’t require up-front payment. This way you can get treatment for your injuries so you can recover after an accident. The cost of your treatment will be paid to you in your settlement as “damages”. On the other hand not getting treated, or having large gaps in your treatment, is detrimental to your case and can drastically reduce the value of your case, make it harder to settle without having to go to court, or in some cases, can even prevent you from getting any recovery for your injuries.
Myth 4: ‘I Want To Wait Until I Finish Treatment’, or, ‘I Think I Will Get Better Soon’
“I’ll just wait until I’m done getting treatment before I hire an attorney. My case won’t move forward until after then anyway.” or “I thought my injuries would get better soon and wouldn’t need to hire an attorney.”
False! You should never wait until after you’ve finished getting treatment to hire an attorney! While you may still be getting treated and won’t be filing a claim right away, there are several other factors that can impact your claim.
- Witnesses are notorious for changing phone numbers, moving, or otherwise flat-out disappearing. Hiring an expert auto accident lawyer as soon as possible helps in tracking down witnesses who can testify on your behalf for an accident. Waiting to hire an attorney allows for time to pass and risk those witnesses disappearing. Not only that, but the longer the gap between the accident and their testimony, the foggier the memory of the witness. Insurance companies will use this to devalue the testimony of the witness.
Insurance Companies Will Do Whatever They Can To Devalue Your Case
- The Statute Of Limitations (SOL) expires after three years in most cases, and waiting until it is close to the 3 year deadline may prevent attorneys from taking on your case. Many car accident attorneys refuse to take on cases that are very close to the expiration of the statute of limitations. The reason is because it increases the risk of something going wrong when filing the lawsuit and getting service on the right people. If that happens, then the attorney can be looking at a legal malpractice claim, and an increase in insurance rates that go along with that. The amount of work that goes into filing a personal injury claim takes several months, or even years, to gather evidence, write demands, negotiate with adjusters, and do all the leg work involved in processing a claim. As such, many attorneys make it a practice to refuse to take on cases that are too close to the expiration of the 3 year statute of limitations.
- An attorney knows what mistakes to avoid that can impact your case. While you may just be treating right now, hiring an experienced attorney who knows what pitfalls to watch out for can prevent making mistakes that can damage your case.
- Medical providers can make mistakes with billing for your medical treatment. It’s not uncommon for medical providers to make mistakes with billing and in medical records. Our professional team knows what to look for and can catch the errors providers make and ensure you’re getting fully compensated for your injuries. The can also help prevent you from being sent to collections unnecessarily.
Myth 5: I Don’t Want To Spend More Money On An Attorney
“I’ll wait to hire an attorney so I can save money. That way I’m not spending more on attorney fees.”
False! Personal injury cases are almost always taken on a contingency fee. This means you pay the attorney nothing up front, or out of your pocket. Also, the fee is based on a percentage of your settlement. So hiring an attorney now will cost the same as hiring an attorney six months or a year from now. This was the case with our client Dean P.
Dean was trying to save money and wanted to tackle his claim on his own. Not knowing what to do, he called our office and spoke with our attorney, Jared Stueckle, on how to negotiate his claim. The Geico adjuster kept stringing him along with delays and denials. Eventually, the adjuster started to get very rude and verbally abusive with Dean. After a long frustrating process, Dean called us back and hired us to fight on his behalf.
Don’t Wait To Speak With An Attorney!
If any of the myths above speak to your situation, give us a call! Speaking with one of our professional auto accident lawyers can help get your case moving in the right direction. We will take care of the insurance adjusters, you just focus on getting better! Call 206-880-7236 for a FREE consultation, and we would be happy to speak with you!