Are You the Victim of a Car Accident?
If you have been in a car accident, whether you are injured or not, and whether you were at fault or not, it is in your best interest to be represented by a Fort Smith lawyer specializing in car accident law. Now is not the time to handle things on your own.
Car Accident Legal Issues
You may have heard that the driver who runs into the back of another vehicle is at fault. That is not always true. For example, if the car in front abruptly stops and you do not have time to stop, you may not be at fault unless you were following too closely or speeding.
In a serious collision that involves injury or death, determining what happened is crucial in order to win your case in civil court. If you think you were not hurt, think again. Injury to the neck and back, commonly known as whiplash, may not be immediately noticeable. It could be days or even months before you feel pain. It is best to keep a diary regularly detailing how you feel to help prove your injury.
What should you do after a car accident?After a car accident, you should call the police to give a statement and file a report. You should always get checked by a doctor or by first responders at the accident scene. Adrenaline may mask the pain of injuries right after your accident, and having documentation will help your claim. If you are able, you should also take pictures of the accident scene.
How much can you get in a car accident settlement?Your settlement will depend on the seriousness of your injuries and what kind of financial damage those injuries cause. If you require extensive medical care and miss a lot of time from work, your claim will likely be more valuable. It will also depend on what the defense offers and what they feel they can prove if a case goes to trial. An attorney can help make a reasonable estimate of current and future losses.
How long do you have to make a car accident claim?All states have statutes of limitations for filing personal injury and car accident claims. In many states, there is either a limit of two or three years to file a claim. It is important to talk with an attorney to make sure you do not miss any deadlines for taking action.
Can you get money without a lawyer?In many car accident claims, the negligent driver’s insurance company may make you a quick settlement offer. In all likelihood, this settlement offer may not be enough for any financial losses that you have yet to consider, such as ongoing medical needs. So while it is possible to collect compensation without an attorney’s help, having a skilled car accident attorney evaluate your case and negotiate on your behalf could increase your chances of recovering more than that initial settlement offer.
Top Questions to Ask When Hiring an Attorney
- How many years have you been practicing law? How long have you practiced law in the local area?
- How many cases similar to mine have you handled in the past?
- What is the likely outcome for my case?
In legal practice, experience matters. An experienced attorney will likely have handled issues similar to yours many, many times. Therefore, after listening to your situation, the attorney should have a reasonable idea of the time line for a case like yours and the likely resolution.
What to Expect from an Initial Consultation
- Seek to determine whether the attorney can represent you. There is no one-size-fits-all legal solution and it may turn out your needs are better served by an attorney in a different specialization.
- It’s important to find a legal ally who is both competent in the law and someone you can trust to protect your interests.
- Discuss how the practice’s billing works and discuss possible additional charges or fees that may arise during or after the resolution of your case.
An attorney consultation should provide you with enough information so that you can make an informed decision on whether to proceed with legal help.
How to Find the Right Attorney
- Determine the area of law that relates to your issue. Attorneys specialize in specific practice areas around legal issues within the broad field of law.
- Seek out recommendations from friends, family, and colleagues. A successful attorney or practice will typically have many satisfied clients.
- Set up consultation appointments to get a better understanding of your case as well as gauge your comfort level with different attorneys. Find the attorney who is the right fit for your needs.
Common legal terms explained
Plaintiff – a person or party who brings a lawsuit against another person(s) or party/parties in a court of law. Private persons or parties can only file suit in civil court.
Judgment – A decision of the court. Also known as a decree or order. Judgments handed down by the court are usually binding on the parties before the court.