Following a car accident in Arizona in which you suffered injuries, you might hesitate about hiring a lawyer or believe that you can put it off. The hesitance many accident victims experience about hiring attorneys is caused by some common misconceptions people have about car accident lawsuits. The primary misconception people have is that hiring an attorney will cost too much money. You might think that you will have to pay a substantial sum of money out-of-pocket to retain a lawyer. Others might think that when they hire attorneys, it makes them appear greedy. However, a lawyer’s job is to seek full and fair compensation to pay for your losses. It is not greedy to try to recover the compensation you deserve when your losses have been caused by someone else’s negligent or reckless conduct.
While an experienced car accident attorney at Lamber Goodnow will take a percentage of your settlement or verdict award, their fees will not be owed until and unless they successfully recover money for you. In most cases, car accident victims recover substantially larger settlements than those who represent themselves. The benefits you might derive from retaining a lawyer might far outweigh any costs involved. If you recognize the importance of being represented by a competent attorney, you might still wonder when in the claims process you should retain a lawyer. Here are several important reasons why you should retain an attorney as soon as possible after your car accident to preserve your claim and your rights.
1. Your Attorney Will Speak to the Insurance Company for You
When you retain an attorney, the insurance company can no longer speak directly to you and must instead go through your lawyer. Insurance companies typically call accident victims repeatedly to try to gain access to information they can use to reduce the value of the victims’ claims so that they can pay less money or avoid paying claims altogether.
An insurance adjuster from the negligent driver’s insurance company might call you as soon as the company learns about the accident and the fact that you were injured. Insurance adjusters are trained to ask leading questions in such a way as to get accident victims to make statements that can be used against them later on. Adjusters also typically act as if they care about the victims’ well-being. However, remember that their loyalties are with their employer instead of you.
You should never agree to give a statement to the other driver’s insurance company. You don’t have a contract with that company and are not legally obligated to talk to them. Whenever you make statements to the insurance company, it will try to use what you say about your accident and injuries against you. Instead of agreeing to talk, you should politely refuse and explain that you plan to hire a lawyer and that your attorney will contact them. Your attorney can then communicate with the insurance company for you to help you avoid making mistakes that could harm your ability to recover fair compensation.
2. Your Lawyer Can Provide Guidance Throughout Your Case
When you hire a car accident attorney early in your case, they can guide you from the start. Hiring a lawyer early can help you obtain answers to your questions while also receiving advice about the best way to handle your case. Your lawyer might also help you understand how to avoid potential issues that might cause the insurance company to try to pay less money to you.
For example, insurance companies sometimes send early offers to accident victims. You might think that you have to accept an offer that is sent to you or risk recovering nothing at all. In reality, most early settlement offers are unreasonably low and will not cover all of the victims’ losses. Insurance companies do this to try to make accident victims believe that their claims are worth less than they are. If the claimants agree to accept the lowball offers, they won’t be able to come back later to seek additional money to cover their losses. If you receive a settlement offer from the insurance company, you can bring it to the attorney’s office you plan to retain. Your lawyer will then review the offer and assess the value of your claim. They can then offer advice about how much your case might be worth and what you should demand in a reasonable settlement.
Your lawyer might also advise you about other things you should and should not do to help to preserve the value of your claim. For example, you need to continue with your medical care and follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations. If you fail to follow all treatment recommendations, the insurance company might argue that your injuries are not as serious as claimed and use that fact to try to pay less money to you.
An attorney might also advise you to stay off of social media if at all possible. If you post about your accident and injuries, the insurance company will likely take some of the things that you say on social media to use against you. Similarly, if you post photos showing you having a nice time while on vacation, the insurance company might use your photos to try to claim that you are malingering.
Your lawyer might provide you with other guidance to help to preserve your claim as your case progresses. Having guidance from an experienced attorney from the start can help you to recover maximal compensation following your car accident and injuries.
3. An Attorney Can Help to Preserve Critical Evidence
The best time to gather evidence occurs in the weeks following an accident. If you wait too long to retain a lawyer, critical evidence that could bolster your claim could be lost. For example, witnesses who saw what occurred could move and change their phone numbers, making them difficult to locate after some time passes. Some types of evidence that might be helpful could also be lost or spoliated.
For example, if your accident was caused by a large truck, the trucking carrier might destroy evidence from the truck’s black box or electronic logging device. When you retain a lawyer quickly, your attorney can send a formal letter to the defendant to preserve the evidence so that it can’t be spoliated. Working with a lawyer from the beginning of your case also can help you to ensure your claim is fully investigated.
4. Your Lawyer Can Help You Meet the Statute of Limitations
Arizona has a statute of limitations for car accident claims of two years under A.R.S. § 12-542. This means that you won’t be able to pursue a claim after two years have passed since your accident. If a government employee caused your accident while they were working, the statute of limitations will be significantly shorter. You only have six months to file a claim against a city or state agency under the Arizona Tort Claims Act.
An attorney can advise you about how much time you might have left before your legal claim expires and how much time it will take them to take appropriate action to avoid the expiration of the limitations period.
While you are not required to retain a lawyer for a car accident claim, you are much less likely to succeed with your claim or to recover full compensation for your losses without the help of a competent and qualified injury attorney. When you wait until later to retain a lawyer, you could make critical mistakes that could harm your ability to recover compensation. The best time to hire a car accident lawyer is immediately after you have sought and received initial medical care for your injuries. When you do, you can avoid mistakes and help to preserve the value of your claim. Contact Lamber Goodnow today to learn more about your rights and to schedule a free case evaluation.