After a motor vehicle crash you can file a personal injury claim against the insurance company without hiring a lawyer. Some people choose to represent themselves when they’ve suffered minor injuries that resolved within a few weeks and have the time and organizational skills to research the law and prepare their case.
But choosing to go it alone after your car accident is often a mistake if you suffered severe injuries. Below are some things to consider when deciding whether to call or e-mail an auto accident attorney in Virginia, and which attorney to hire.
Why Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer After Your Virginia Car Crash? 9 Reasons to Contact an Auto Accident Attorney in Virginia.
1. You have a limited time to file a civil action against the other driver and his or her insurance company. In Virginia you have two years from the date of the auto accident to file a lawsuit against the insurance company. But you need to get started before the deadline to give yourself the best chance of negotiating an insurance settlement with the car insurance company and to build your case. Waiting until the last minute will hurt your case.
2. You have to follow procedural rules to sue. Sometimes procedure is more important than substance. You may need to give your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company notice of the accident within a certain period. Or if your claim is against a municipality, you may need to provide notice to other parties or file suit sooner. An experienced attorney familiar with Virginia car accident laws will comply with the procedural rules.
3. You suffered a severe injury in the accident, such as a fracture, traumatic brain injury, or paralysis, or your loved one was killed in the accident. The more serious the injuries, the more unlikely it is that the insurance company will offer fair value for your case without a protracted fight. Get an attorney in your corner.
4. Proving Liability is Difficult. Virginia follows the doctrine of contributory negligence. If you contributed to the auto accident, even 1%, you may not be entitled to compensation for your auto accident injuries. Even if you have supportive witnesses and a favorable police report finding the other party at fault, you may still lose your case. Your attorney will research the law to find cases, statutes, and past decisions that support your claim. If the insurance company says you were at fault for the accident, call an attorney right away.
5. The insurance company isn’t your friend. Many auto insurance companies have nice, friendly slogans in their commercials. But don’t let the commercials fool you, insurers are looking out for themselves, not you. Don’t fight the battle alone. Hire an aggressive attorney to fight back against the auto insurer.
6. You need to understand the damages you may be entitled to. In Virginia auto accident victims are entitled to many types of damages if they prove the other driver was at fault. These damages include payment for: medical bills; lost wages; future wage loss; pain and suffering; and future medical care. It’s possible your family members may be entitled to damages for loss of companionship if you become incapacitated. Your attorney can explain all the types of damages available to you and put together a game plan to prove them.
7. You may need an expert witness to prove your case. Often the value of auto accident cases comes down to a battle of the expert witnesses. An experienced auto accident lawyer has built a network of expert medical witnesses and accident reconstruction experts he or she can use to try to win your case or increase its settlement value.
8. You need to understand your options when it comes to litigation and settlement. In Virginia auto accident claims start with filing an insurance claim. There is a difference between filing an insurance claim and filing a personal injury lawsuit in Virginia. And both methods have their advantages and disadvantages. Though most cases settle out of court, you can’t take the negotiation process for granted. Your attorney can help you understand the true value of your case and negotiate with the auto insurance company on your behalf.
9. Proving your case may not be easy. Litigation is difficult. Strict rules govern the types of evidence and witnesses you can use. There are also limits on the types of questions you can ask. If you don’t know the rules, you are at a disadvantage and may end up leaving money on the table or even losing your case.
Tips for Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer after a Car Accident in Virginia
Because Virginia has statutes of limitations that apply to personal injury and wrongful death claims, it’s important that you hire a personal injury attorney quickly. It’s important to put pressure on the insurance company by starting the claim process as soon as possible.
But don’t hire the first attorney you see advertise on television, the radio, or a billboard. Consider these factors when looking for the best Virginia car accident lawyer for you.
- Focus on Personal Injury and Auto Accident Cases: Like medicine, you want a specialist who focuses on your specific legal problem. When you choose your personal injury attorney make sure he or she handles lots of car accident accident cases and has experience with your issues. You need an attorney who has represented individuals who’ve suffered injuries in car crashes and knows the procedural issues that will arise in your case.
- Reputation: Research the attorney you are thinking of hiring. Go online and read reviews, talk to friends and family, or ask attorneys in other practice areas who they would use if they were injured in a car accident.
- Commitment to your case: Ask your attorney about his or her caseload. You want an attorney who is not trying to juggle too many cases and who has the time to pay attention to your case.
- Comfort: Talk to your potential attorney and see if this is someone you’ll want to work with closely as your claim progresses. Some personalities clash, and that’s ok. Find an attorney that you get along with and who is honest with you about your case’s value and likely outcome.
A Virginia Motor Vehicle Accident Attorney You Can Trust
Call or e-mail Corey Pollard if you were injured in an auto accident in or near Richmond, Newport News, or Virginia Beach. You’ll get a free no-obligation consultation.