We have all seen the television commercials that advertise the services of a highway accident attorney. Whether you are located in Maryland or Florida, each commercial seems to have similar sets of characters: a lawyer recounting the grim realities of being in an auto accident and former clients who have won large sums of money in settlements. These commercials imply that every person who is involved in an accident has the right to file a lawsuit. What the commercials fail to mention is that every accident does not need to involve a consultation with an attorney.
Many accidents involve cases that are considered to be minor. Minor cases can generally be handled through an insurance company. Accidents can be categorized as minor when there is a clear judgment of who caused the accident, medical bills are small or non-existent and there is no issue that requires additional expert investigation. This does not account for all accidents, of course, and sometimes a case that initially seems very straightforward and minor can become more complicated as time goes on and more problems come up—for example, delayed injuries, or unforeseen consequences such as the loss of a job due to time missing from work.
What if you are unsure about whether you need to consult an attorney? There are certain instances in which it is advisable to get legal guidance about your case. Complex legal issues are present in a large number of cases, and if you are ever at all concerned that you do not understand what is going on, in general you should see if you can receive some legal advice. A person should definitely consider hiring a highway accident attorney when the following factors are present:
- It is unclear as to which party is at fault in the accident.
- There is uncertainty about the manner in which your claim should be assessed.
- A claims adjuster requests you to release medical records from a previous auto accident.
- Assistance is required to negotiate the terms of a settlement.
- The amount of lost wages is difficult to calculate. This scenario occurs with people who are business owners and commissioned salespersons.
- A claim has been denied by the insurance company.
- There are serious injuries and major medical bills.
- There is a dispute in the liability.
- Your accident requires expert investigation.
- You have been served with a lawsuit.
Contacting an attorney as soon as the incident occurs can help you avoid expensive financial mistakes. When there is doubt about whether you should contact a highway accident attorney, it may be beneficial for you to make the call. The consultation is usually free, and you can get some valuable advice. If the attorney believes your case is valid, then you will be asked to schedule an office consultation.
You should remember that claims adjusters work on behalf of the insurance companies. They may sound friendly, but they are not on your team. Any facts that are conveyed to the claims adjusters are recorded and will be used to determine your liability and limits on damages. It is always in your best interest to get sound legal advice regarding your case. Keep in mind as well that insurance companies hire attorneys of their own and keep them around specifically to make sure that they are able to interpret laws in such a way as to deny as many claims as possible; it is not necessarily that insurance companies are inherently evil as it is that they are run on a for-profit basis. If the insurance company goes to the expense of including lawyers among their payroll, it will likely be of good benefit to you to at least consult with a highway accident attorney to understand your rights.