Some car accidents can be handled by insurance companies, provided that the parties that crash are cooperative and no one was seriously hurt. You may just want to pretend nothing ever happened. However, there are circumstances under which you need to hire an attorney.
If you have sustained serious physical or financial harm, you will need an attorney to help you recover what you are owed. You will also need an attorney if government vehicles were involved, or you think someone may allege you were at fault in the incident.
Here are nine situations in which you should hire an attorney if you have been in an automobile accident.
1. You Have Sustained an Injury.
If you are hurt in a car accident, go to the hospital immediately and get the care you need. You may need prompt treatment of any injuries, which are not always immediately obvious.
Make sure you keep copies of all documents. The reports of the EMTs and emergency room staff will be important, as will be your medical records.
If you have any difficulties later with your insurance company covering your treatment, you can turn to a lawyer. He or she will also advise you of your rights with regard to a potential lawsuit against whoever may have been responsible.
2. You’re Unable to Do Your Job.
You may have injured your back or head in a car accident, making it difficult to walk, sit, or concentrate. Whether you work in an office or doing physical labor, you may be prevented from going back to work right away due to injury.
Depending on the nature of your job, this may have immediate or long-term effects. While you may have certain protections for a limited time against getting fired, you may lose out on opportunities, promotions, and other benefits.
You need to speak to an attorney about these issues. They may be able to help you seek compensation from whoever was responsible for the accident. They may also be able to advise on your rights with regard to your employer and how you can protect your livelihood.
3. Someone Was Drinking
Every day, almost 30 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes. That’s more than 10,000 lives per year.
If drunk driving contributed to your accident, you should call a lawyer. The justice system takes driving while under the influence very seriously, and the penalties involved can dramatically affect the rest of your life.
If you were hit by a drunk driver, you may have significant legal claims against them.
4. A Police Car was Involved
In a crowded city like New York, high-speed police chases may impact innocent bystanders as law enforcement races to apprehend a criminal or stop a disaster. If your car is hit by a police car or fire truck in the line of duty, you should hire an attorney to determine whether you have a viable claim.
An attorney is critical in these instances because there are special protocols involved if you choose to sue a municipality, including shorter statutes of limitations.
5. A Pedestrian Was Involved
The good news is that traffic deaths in New York City have fallen to an all-time low. The bad news is that pedestrian deaths have increased.
With so many pedestrians and bicyclists competing for space on crowded New YorkCity streets, accidents often occur. Sometimes it is truly an accident that could not be avoided. Sometimes it is due to negligence or other factors.
Contact a car accident attorney who can help you navigate any situation where a bystander was injured so that you may manage any criminal or civil risks of liability.
6. The Street Lights Were Not Working or Signage was Poor
Sometimes a car accident happens because the city did not maintain its streets in a safe condition. If a stop sign has been removed and not replaced, or if a street light is not working, drivers may unwittingly get into accidents through no fault of their own.
An attorney can advise on whether you may have a cause of action against the city for failing to keep its streets safe. The city has a duty of care in this situation which may have been breached.
7. You Are Uncertain of How Much May Have Been Due to Your Own Actions
In an accident, everything happens so fast. Did you miss the red light? Were you distracted by your cell phone?
In determining liability in a car crash, courts will often consider issues of contributory negligence. You may be responsible for 20% of the fault, but you may still be entitled to recovery if the other driver was responsible for 80%.
An experienced traffic attorney can help you assess whether you have a viable claim and if your own part in the accident will affect your chances of recovery.
8. A Death Has Occurred
No matter what your role in the accident, if a fatality has occurred you should call an attorney immediately. If there is a criminal inquiry, do not speak to anyone until you speak to your lawyer.
9. You Are Concerned About Keeping Your License and Insurance
A car crash can impact your life in many ways, even if there has not been a major injury. Points on your license can add to your insurance costs, or risk your license being taken away.
If your employment depends upon your license and insurance, this can be a critical situation. Often having an experienced attorney handle your case may make the difference between keeping your license and your job, and not keeping them.
Hire an Attorney After a Car Crash: It’s Worth It
If you are wondering whether you should hire an attorney after a car accident, consider what you have to lose. If you are sued by the other driver, you may get hit with major damages. If you are injured and do not sue, you may have to cover many expenses for medical bills and lost wages.
If you are facing civil charges, you need assistance. If you are facing criminal liability, you also need counsel- as soon as possible. Make the call!
For more information about traffic accidents and other legal situations where you may need a lawyer in New York, check out our blog.