In some cases following an automobile accident, it may seem obvious that there is a lawsuit on the horizon: somebody was injured, and somebody else’s negligence or carelessness caused that injury. But presenting a claim, to an insurer or a court, is not a simple matter. There may be disagreement or confusion over who was at fault. The extent of a person’s injuries may be unclear; some injuries may cause long-term or even permanent discomfort or disability, and it is not always possible to get the full picture during an initial emergency room visit or even after multiple follow-up examinations. Injuries may include seemingly straightforward issues such as a broken bone, or may involve more complex symptoms and problems (from chronic pain to insomnia and difficulty focusing or performing everyday tasks).
Just as every accident is a unique event, you will face a unique set of decisions in the aftermath of the accident. One of those decisions is whether and when to call a lawyer. In some cases, a lawyer may be one of the first calls you make after a collision. In other cases, you may need to take the time to focus on the proper treatment for your injuries before making the decision to take legal action. As time passes, and it appears more likely that your injuries may have a long-term impact on your life, then you may want to consider retaining counsel. One of the single biggest factors in obtaining a successful personal injury judgment or settlement is the period of time that was allowed for recovery; for this reason, it is very important that you take all the necessary steps toward a complete recovery and rehabilitation. On the other hand, do not delay too long in seeking legal advice; there are important deadlines for filing insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits. A good lawyer can help you assess your particular situation and determine the best time to act to preserve your legal rights.
If you have suffered an injury, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses. If your injuries will have long-term or permanent repercussions, or require long-term treatment and therapy, you may be entitled to even greater compensation, including for your pain and suffering, loss of income, loss of the ability to enjoy your life as you once did, and expenses associated with future care (whether that means medical care, childcare, housekeeping, or other costs). Your lawyer can help you determine what expenses are traceable to your injury and may be recoverable as part of a judgment or settlement.
In other cases, the circumstances may not be in your favor; for example, there may simply be insufficient evidence to support a lawsuit. You don’t need to make that assessment alone, however; a simple consultation with a qualified personal injury lawyer can help you determine your legal options, the strengths and weaknesses of your case, how your claims should be pursued, and what the likely outcome will be. It is always better to seek professional legal advice before making any decision about your personal injury case.
As your situation unfolds, you may find yourself facing a settlement offer from an insurer or another party involved in your accident. Do not make the mistake of acting too quickly or taking the first offer that comes your way; in fact, it’s generally not advisable to make any decisions about settlement without consulting a lawyer. Too many people fail to seek legal advice, and end up settling for less compensation than they deserve. A qualified, competent lawyer will be able to guide you through the process, negotiate on your behalf, and make sure that you achieve the best possible outcome for you.