Just because you were involved in a car accident, doesn’t mean you need to hire a personal injury attorney, but how do you know if you really need one or not?
First of all, if no one was injured in the crash and there is only property damage involved, this is something that can be handled without the help of an attorney. Report the crash to your insurance company and let them handle it for you.
Next, if you are certain you are at fault in the collision, you may not need an attorney unless you have reason to believe the other involved motorists may share blame for the crash. It wouldn’t hurt to call a personal injury attorney and ask for a free consultation. Let them know the specific facts of your case and they can tell you for certain if you need help.
Drivers who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol or flee the scene of a collision do not need a personal injury attorney, but they will likely want to speak with a criminal defense attorney.
You are not likely to require an attorney if you are injured in an accident, but they are superficial scratches or light bruises and you have no soft-tissue pain such as neck sprain or back injuries. If this is the case, you will want to tell your insurance company about this, but you are not likely going to need an attorney. Make sure to see your doctor to rule out any significant injuries.
Motorists who are involved in a crash, but their vehicle has no damage may have a difficult time proving they are injured in a crash and are not likely to require legal representation. Report the crash to your insurance company and have your car inspected by an auto repair shop.
Your accident took place months ago, but you never sought medical treatment for some minor pain and now it seems to have become worse. You can call a personal injury attorney and ask them to consider your claim, but it’s most likely too late for them to help you.
Most insurance companies expect an injured person to be treated immediately after a crash and any delays or gaps in treatment indicate the person may not have been seriously hurt or their injuries may not be related to the crash. There are times when a minor untreated injury can worsen without treatment this is why you shouldn’t delay seeing a doctor. You are required under California law to mitigate your damages or take steps to make sure an injury does not go untreated and thus gets worse.
Let’s say you were involved in a crash that was more than two years ago and you saw the doctor a few times, but didn’t think you needed an attorney. Now it appears you have chronic pain and you think it’s because of the collision. In California, a person has two years from the date of an accident to make a claim for a personal injury. In this case, the statute of limitations has expired and there is no resource for you.
Who Should Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?
Anyone who is injured in a crash who is a passenger, a pedestrian or bicyclist or a driver and they believe the other party was at least partially responsible for the accident.
You have significant damage to your vehicle, but initially you felt okay after the crash. The next day you were in a lot of pain and could hardly move. Seek medical treatment and call an attorney to help you secure your legal rights.
You have lost a loved one in a car accident and you are not sure who is at fault for the crash because police have not released their report. Call an attorney to help ensure your case is properly handled and investigated to determine liability.
If you have tried to handle your own case, but the insurance company is not stepping up to pay your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc., you may still be able to hire a personal injury attorney. Most attorneys prefer to handle a claim from the beginning, but depending on the facts of each case you may be able to have a law firm take on your claim.
California Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Claims
There is a limited time available to an injured person to file a claim under California law. This deadline is called the Statute of Limitations and for most personal injury cases you have two years from the date of injury to file a claim for compensation. There can be shorter time frames for government claims or public entities. Typically you have six months from the date of injury to file a claim directly with the public entity and if it is dismissed you then have two years to file the lawsuit.
There are some exceptions to the standard statute of limitations if the injured person is a minor, they are in prison, out of state or insane. Under certain situations such as these mentioned, the statute of limitations may be tolled or suspended for a period of time. In the case of a minor, for example, when they turn 18 years old the statute begins to run. It’s best to speak with an attorney if you believe this applies to your case so you don’t run out of time and lose your opportunity to file a claim.
If you are injured in a collision and would like to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney, contact Johnson Attorneys Group at 800-235-6801 for a free consultation. Find out more about our law firm on our website.
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