How an Attorney Can Help You After a Car Accident

The overwhelming majority of people consider a car accident to be an inconvenience. To be sure, nothing will bring your busy day to a screeching halt, no pun intended, like a car accident. The problem with the “inconvenient interruption” concept is it has a habit of distracting otherwise highly intelligent people from the enormous scope of risk they face at an accident scene.

Legal problems are among the least understood and most difficult to manage. They spring from poorly managed legal liability and risk, and in almost every case can be easily avoided with a few preparatory steps. First on anyone’s priority list should be obtaining competent and experienced legal counsel. Apersonal accident attorneycan head off nearly every unnecessary legal issue long before it becomes a major concern, and he or she can also create opportunities in the face of various liabilities.

If you think retaining an attorney after your car accident is either a luxury or overkill, read on. You may be surprised at just how fast things can go sideways.

The Other Liability

Your attorney knows something about accident scenes the average driver probably doesn’t consider very often. Any driver involved in a serious accident is facing several kinds of liability. Among the risks is criminal liability, which brings with it a whole list of legal realities, including the fact that no potential criminal suspect should ever launch into a long conversation about the circumstances of a potential crime with the police.

It is the unprepared driver that doesn’t realize they may be implicating themselves in one or more serious criminal charges by answering questions posed by anyone at the scene, to say nothing of any police officers present. The prepared driver, on the other hand, will have long since been advised to remain silent and preserve his or her rights until such time as their counsel has had an opportunity to evaluate the circumstances and evidence and make a statement, if any.

Privacy Rights

If you’re prepared enough to retain their services in advance, the personal injury lawyers will likely advise you to do a couple of important things in addition topersonal injury helpif you are involved in an accident. First, they will encourage you to lock your car and to move any personal items to the trunk. Why is this important? Because an open vehicle filled with personal items represents a wide variety of justifications for a passing police officer to take a peek into your personal effects.

Under the Fourth Amendment, you are under no obligation to authorize a search of your person or vehicle, even if you are in an accident. Like the above driver who doesn’t realize he or she may implicate themselves, there is no telling how your personal property might be interpreted by a police officer looking for reasons to blame drivers at the scene of an accident. If you leave your car open, you’re making it easy for that officer to poke around.

On the other hand, if your property is locked in the trunk, and your car is also locked, any attempt to search or seize your property will require a warrant, as it should.


A good litigation attorney knows he who can reconstruct the accident scene four months later with high resolution photographs and witness statements has a tremendous advantage at trial. This is why your attorney will, in addition to offering personal injury help, advise you to gather evidence at the scene with all the same focus and precision as a forensic investigator. He or she will also tell you that portable television station you’re carrying around in your pocket is your best friend when it comes to getting what you need to defend yourself in the event of a dispute.

Get pictures of everyone’s documents, and make certain to photograph the scene well enough that someone unfamiliar with the circumstances will be able to understand what happened. Even if you are partially or fully at fault, your evidence will protect you from unfair liability and other drivers trying to take advantage of the incident.

Insurance Company

It will come as no surprise to any member of the Bar that insurance companies have a unique business model that does not include generous payouts for claimants. Drivers, on the other hand, are likely to actually believe the commercials they see on TV, and so will enter into freewheeling debate with their insurance adjusters without realizing they are one wrong word away from a denied claim.

Your attorney should do the talking when it comes to notifying and negotiating with your insurance company. The reasons for this are legion. Among the most important is the fact your attorney has a full and complete understanding of your state’s insurance code. Further, they know how insurance companies avoid liability and how they sidestep around the wording in the policy they gave you when you paid your premiums. The chances of an insurance company talking an attorney out of a standard settlement are much more favorable than a highly experienced insurance adjuster using the resources of a multi-billion dollar company to bamboozle a policyholder at 2AM on the side of the road.

Your top priority in any accident is to protect yourself financially and legally. The reason you pay insurance premiums is to help, not hinder your goals. Your attorney’s job is to make sure you don’t lose your coverage or end up with no financial alternatives to paying out of pocket. Listen to your lawyer.

Based on their experiences watching television and movies, many conclude that attorneys only get involved when there are millions of dollars on the line. Nothing could be further from the truth. Attorneys help you focus on details you might otherwise miss, and in that role they serve a crucial function. Car accidents are disorienting and confusing, and can lead people to make decisions that simply aren’t legally or financially advisable.

While it is a good idea to consult the personal injury lawyers after an accident, it is an even better idea to speak to a qualified and experienced personal accident attorney prior to the incident. This will allow you to formulate a plan and make all the necessary arrangements without time limits or an emergency to handle. Being prepared in advance makes all the difference.

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