When Do You Need a Lawyer for a Car Accident?

After a car accident, you may be confused about whether you need a lawyer. For instance, you may wonder whether you need to hire an attorney for an accident you aren’t responsible for. You may also be confused about when to hire a lawyer. Do you hire a lawyer before you go to the hospital for treatment? Or do you only need to hire a lawyer when you want to go to trial?

Read on for the top reasons to get a lawyer after a car accident. We will also cover how Montoya Hinckley’s skilled Washington personal injury lawyers can help you understand your legal options.

Do I Need an Attorney for a Car Accident Claim?

When do you need a lawyer for a car accident? In general, you should consider getting legal representation if you don’t know how to proceed, no matter how small the accident seems. Without proper representation, you may not be able to get the compensation you deserve.

There are many reasons you may need a personal injury lawyer after your car accident.

You Are Not Familiar with Personal Injury Law

If you are unfamiliar with personal injury law, you should consider hiring a car accident lawyer. Skilled Washington car accident lawyers have years of experience handling car accident legal claims. Their goal is to get you the maximum compensation possible so you can cover your losses and rebuild your life. They will handle everything for you, from filing paperwork to negotiating with the person responsible for the accident and the insurance company.

You Have Sustained a Lot of Damages

After a car accident, you may have a lot of damages, including economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages, also called special damages, are monetary losses you have suffered due to the car accident. Examples include:

  • Medical and rehabilitation expenses and bills
  • Lost earnings and wages
  • Future lost earning capacity
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Property damage

Non-economic damages, also referred to as general damages, are subjective. Examples include:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Impairment, disability, or disfigurement
  • Loss of consortium (deprivation of a family or spousal relationship due to injuries caused by the car accident)
  • Mental anguish
  • Loss of quality of life

General damages are not associated with specific monetary values and cannot be calculated with mathematical certainty, so they can be hard to determine without professional knowledge. Partnering with a Washington lawyer can help determine the non-economic damages you are entitled to because of your car accident.

A Loved One Has Died Because of the Car Accident

You should also hire a lawyer if a loved one dies because of a car accident.

A compassionate and knowledgeable Washington car accident attorney can determine whether you are eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Depending on the facts of your case, you may be able to recover the following damages from filing a wrongful case lawsuit:

  • Funeral and medical expenses related to the deceased’s death
  • Loss of earnings the deceased would have made had they lived
  • Loss of any benefits that the deceased would have earned, such as the value of services and goods they would have provided and pension.
  • Loss of companionship (if you are filing a wrongful death lawsuit for a loved one who died in a car crash)

You Were Blamed for the Car Accident but You did not Cause the Accident

The other driver(s) may try to deflect liability or blame by accusing you of causing the accident. This may impact your auto insurance rates and your ability to seek maximum compensation in a personal injury lawsuit. The right Yakima, WA lawyer may be able to gather the witness testimony and evidence required to support your version of events.

The Insurance Company Made a Lowball Compensation Offer or Denied Your Claim

The insurance company may offer lowball compensation or deny your claim for several reasons. A Yakima, WA car accident lawyer can increase your chances of obtaining better offer or approval of your claim from the start. Your lawyer can also help you establish insurance coverage and fight for maximum compensation if the insurance company refuses to act reasonably.

The Insurance Company Refused to Negotiate

Sometimes, the insurance company may refuse to negotiate with you. If this happens and you want to continue negotiating or fight for a better settlement, a lawyer can handle negotiations with the insurance company and represent you in court.

When Do I Need to Get an Attorney After a Car Accident?

If you need a lawyer, you should contact one after the accident — ideally, immediately after you have addressed your medical needs.

That way, your lawyer can immediately start helping you gather and preserve evidence. If you wait too long to contact a lawyer, you may forget to document vital evidence, such as facts related to liability, road and weather conditions, property damage,  eyewitness accounts, and medical reports. You may also not know which type of evidence to focus on documenting, and that could hinder your ability to get the amount of compensation you receive.

Contacting your attorney as soon as you’ve addressed your medical needs will also help you meet Washington’s statute of limitations (the deadline for filing personal injury claims), which is three years from the date of the accident. Three years sounds like a lot of time, but the deadline can come up sooner than you expect because of the complexity of personal injury claims. Besides helping you gather and preserve evidence, your attorney will likely assist you by:

  • Getting the police report from your accident
  • Investigating the car accident scene
  • Calculating your total damages, including non-economic damages like pain and suffering that are hard to define
  • Guiding you through the legal process
  • Filling out all paperwork
  • Consulting and hiring medical experts to strengthen your claims
  • Communicating with insurance companies, including conducting settlement negotiations
  • Taking your case to court if necessary

Should I Hire a Lawyer for an Accident I Was Responsible For?

Yes, you should hire a lawyer for an accident you were partially responsible for. Even if you were partially at fault, you still have the right to recover compensation for your losses.

According to the Revised Code of Washington section 4.22.005, Washington juries, judges, and insurance companies follow “pure comparative negligence.” In other words, you can still recover damages in a car accident personal injury lawsuit, but your compensation will be reduced according to your share of negligence, calculated as your percentage of fault for the accident.

For example, suppose your case went to trial and the jury determines that your injuries, property losses, and pain and suffering total $200,000. However, the jury also believes you were 10 percent responsible for the crash. Accordingly, the total amount of your damages ($200,000) would be reduced by 10 percent ($20,000), leaving you with $180,000.

A Washington Car Accident Lawyer May Be Able to Reduce Your Assignment of Liability

There is no objective way to determine fault in Washington car accident law. As such, your assignment of liability will depend on your ability to persuade a jury or judge, or to negotiate with an insurance claims adjuster. Talk to a savvy and tenacious Washington state car accident lawyer to learn more about your legal options.

How to Find a Good Washington Car Accident Lawyer

Finding a good car accident attorney can be very challenging. To avoid hiring the wrong lawyer, you should look for the following qualities when searching for legal representation:

  • The law firm’s experience and specialties
  • The reputation of the law firm through word of mouth, online, reviews, and client testimonials
  • Whether the law firm offers free case reviews and consultations
  • Whether you can speak directly with the lawyer throughout the representation, and not just staff members
  • The results of the law firm
  • The law firm’s values and mission.

If You Have Questions About Your Car Accident, Hire a Washington Personal Injury Lawyer As Soon As Possible

The aftermath of a car accident can be incredibly stressful. Your car is damaged, and you may have serious injuries that require expensive, time-consuming treatments and rehabilitation.

Fortunately, Montoya Hinckley’s  experienced personal injury lawyers are here to help. Professional, savvy, and tenacious, attorneys Kevan Montoya and Tyler Hinckley can thoroughly analyze your case and answer all your legal questions. We will also handle all legal matters and communications for you, and work with the insurance company on your behalf, so you can focus on recovering and getting your life back together.

Call 509-895-7373 to learn more about how we can help you.

Attorney Kevan Montoya

Attorney Kevan MontoyaFor over thirty years, Mr. Montoya has successfully represented clients in litigation involving multi-million dollar cases involving wrongful death, employment and business and commercial disputes. He regularly counsels businesses in Yakima and Central Washington on employment policies and helps businesses train employees regarding employment law compliance. He regularly speaks on employment issues. [ Attorney Bio ]


Attorney Tyler Hinckley

Attorney Tyler HinckleyTyler Hinckley represents individuals and businesses in state and federal court in litigation involving personal injury, property damage, employment claims, and business and commercial disputes. He represents individuals and businesses in a variety of employment cases, including wrongful termination, wage and hour, employment discrimination, and retaliation. Additionally, he represents individuals in residential construction defect and construction contract disputes, easement and boundary line disputes, and in cases involving damage to real property. Tyler also represents clients in administrative proceedings before state administrative agencies. [ Attorney Bio ]

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