When to Get an Attorney for a Car Accident
If you’ve been in a minor car accident, it may feel like overkill to reach out to an attorney. However, Virginia’s contributory negligence law can make working with an attorney a lucrative decision. No matter how severe or simple your car accident may seem, our team can help you jump through the hoops of an insurance claim or a civil suit.
How long should you wait before reaching out to an attorney, though? And what should you do about the cost of working with a professional? While it’s never a good idea to wait to take action, you’ll need to act especially quickly when you consider confines placed upon you by the state.
What’s the Difference Between a Major and Minor Car Accident?
Major and minor car accidents tend to differ in terms of their end cost. Minor car injuries can include parking lot accidents, low-speed collisions, and even self-inflicted collisions. These accidents tend to generate damages in property loss as opposed to serious injury.
On the other hand, major accidents tend to result in as much injury as they do property damage. These accidents can include rear-end collisions, T-bone accidents, and accidents involving ice or other natural forces.
You have the right to call on an attorney after major or minor accidents – and you should. When you go to file an insurance claim or a civil suit, an attorney can help you establish the overall value of your accident. In turn, you can more effectively establish an estimate of the compensation you want out of your claim.
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When Should You Contact a Car Accident Attorney?
At a minimum, you’ll want to contact a car accident attorney within Virginia’s statute of limitations. This statute, Code of Virginia §8.01-243, gives you two years to act on your losses. If you haven’t connected with an attorney in that time, there’s a good chance that you won’t be able to pursue accident compensation.
You also have to report all manner of car accidents to local law enforcement within 24 hours of them occurring. Similarly, you need to file a claim with your insurance provider within 30 days of your accident.
You can contact an attorney at any point during this process. The sooner you get in touch with a legal representative, the sooner you can start to combat the forces that might otherwise deny you your compensation.
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Can Attorneys Help With Insurance Claims?
Virginia approaches car accidents from two unique perspectives. The first involves general fault. Virginia is an at-fault state, meaning that one party tends to take on any responsibility related to a collision. You’ll need to determine which party this is before you file an insurance claim or civil suit.
However, fault isn’t always so straightforward. Virginia also operates on pure contributory negligence law. If you had any hand at all in your accident, you’ll be barred from both your insurance claim and any civil suit pursuing compensation. The state elaborates on this policy in Code of Virginia §8.01-58.
Experienced lawyers can argue against any assertions of fault that might otherwise bar you from compensation. When you reach out to an attorney, you can trust them to communicate with an insurance auditor, liable party, and/or law enforcement on your behalf.
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What Can a Car Accident Attorney Do for You?
After a car accident, the legalities of your rights may seem more complicated than they’re worth. That’s because not everyone knows how to go about requesting compensation for their losses. Fortunately, Virginia’s car accident attorneys know how to make this process as straightforward as possible.
Car accident lawyers don’t only represent their clients in court. When you first approach a law firm, you can go through initial case evaluations to specifically determine fault. You can gather evidence to contest claims that might otherwise turn against you. An attorney can help you present your claim within Virginia’s statute of limitations, ensuring that a county clerk looks at it.
More so, attorneys can mediate on your behalf. We can keep conversations between you and a liable party civil, even if a case has to move to court. That, more than anything else, may give you the peace of mind you need to focus on your recovery.
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How Much do Car Accident Legal Services Cost?
One of the reasons many people delay in reaching out to car accident legal services has to do with the perceived cost. Legal services are allegedly expensive. Why, then, would families want to put more strain on their finances?
In reality, not every lawyer wants to charge you an arm and a leg for their services. Christina Pendleton & Associates even operates on contingency. That means that you’ll never see a bill for the services you ask for. Instead, you can learn more about our contingency fee agreements during your initial case consultation.
Do All Car Accident Civil Claims Go to Trial?
If you do choose to file a civil claim after a car accident, no matter how minor, your case may not go to trial. While a court may carry your case forward, that gives you leave to issue a liable party a summons. You can then negotiate for accident compensation outside of the courtroom.
That said, you can opt to take your case to trial if negotiations fall through. Alternatively, if you’re after justice, a trial may help you achieve that goal faster than negotiations might. Do note, though, that civil suits do not come with the same consequences that criminal cases do.
If you believe that someone’s behavior on the road was criminal, you may have a different case on your hands. You can discuss whether or not you want to pursue criminal charges with members of our team.
How Much Compensation Can a Car Accident Attorney Win You?
If you choose to pursue a civil claim, you can request compensation for your losses in either a trial or pre-court negotiations. You’ll need to present an estimate of your desired financial support in your initial claim, although you can negotiate with appropriate parties based on court perceptions of your losses.
How do you establish that estimated compensation? You look to both your damages and to car accident case precedent throughout Virginia. Generally speaking, your estimate can touch on the following car accident losses:
- Medical expenses related to personal injuries
- Property damage
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- PTSD and related therapy
- Upcoming procedures or expenses that you’ve yet to be charged for
If you’re unhappy with the personal injury settlement you’ve been offered, or you want to fight for additional compensation, contact one of our Virginia car accident lawyers. Our team can help you fight for maximum compensation during negotiations or through a civil trial.
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