When to Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident

December 28, 2023 | Ed Bernstein
When to Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident

You should hire a car accident lawyer as soon as possible after the collision. Waiting to hire an attorney comes with several risks, including the possibility of failing to obtain all the money you deserve.

There is no reason to wait before hiring a lawyer and significant risk in waiting. Once you identify a law firm qualified to represent you, don’t wait to hire that firm.

Why Should I Hire a Car Accident Lawyer as Soon as Possible?

When to Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident

It isn’t easy to list all of the reasons to hire a lawyer as soon as possible, including the facts that:

Insurance Companies May Be Working Against You (Right Now)

Your auto insurer is supposed to be your partner. In reality, insurance companies often place their profit motive above all else—including your own financial needs.

Your insurer, or a third-party insurer, may compromise your financial recovery by:

  • Pressuring you to give a recorded statement before you are ready
  • Attempting to have you admit fault for the accident (perhaps through confusing questioning)
  • Denying your claim
  • Refusing to cover certain damages, like a specific medical procedure
  • Extending a lowball settlement
  • Delaying the processing of your claim, which may be an attempt to have you accept the lowball offer

Car accident lawyers deal regularly with insurance companies and know how to counter these kinds of bad-faith tactics. When you hire a lawyer, they will protect your rights from insurers.

There Is Likely a Deadline for Filing Your Case

There is almost always a filing deadline for car accident cases. Your attorney will want to resolve settlement talks before the deadline expires. This way, your lawyer can file a lawsuit if insurers refuse to offer a fair settlement.

You Deserve to Focus Completely on Your Health and Recovery

Every car accident victim must focus intently on their recovery because:

  • Some injuries, like whiplash, do not immediately show symptoms, so you should never assume you are healthy after an accident
  • If you do not receive the treatment you need, your symptoms can become worse (or even develop new health problems)
  • Resting and following doctor’s orders just after the accident may help you recover as soon as possible (and prevent long-term health problems)

If you do not accept help with your claim or lawsuit, you cannot focus completely on your recovery. Therefore, hiring a lawyer may be the best decision for your immediate and long-term health.

Your Lawyer Wants to Gather Evidence as Soon as Possible

Evidence is an essential part of every car accident case. It is in your interests to have your attorney secure evidence as soon as possible, especially because some evidence will not be available for long.

For instance, the city where your accident happened may wipe traffic camera footage weekly or at another interval. Your lawyer will obtain such footage as quickly as possible, but they can only begin gathering evidence once you hire them.

A Lawyer May Have Important Advice for You

Your lawyer may have valuable advice, which may include:

  • See a doctor as soon as possible
  • Do not speak with insurance companies (especially not until you have hired a lawyer)
  • Follow your doctor’s advice
  • Keep a journal detailing your physical symptoms, mental health difficulties, and other accident-related problems 
  • Follow your lawyer’s advice

A lawyer’s guidance may provide the peace of mind you need. The time following a car accident is anything but calm, but a lawyer’s guidance may provide much-needed certainty.

The Risks of Waiting Too Long to Hire a Car Accident Lawyer

Just as there are benefits to hiring a lawyer as soon as possible, there are significant risks in waiting to hire your car accident lawyer. If you wait too long to find and hire an attorney, then:

Your Filing Deadline Could Expire

If the filing deadline for your car accident lawsuit expires, you may:

Different states have different filing deadlines. For example, in Nevada, NRS § 11.190(4)(e) generally requires that a lawyer file a car accident case within two years of the accident happening.

Missing the filing deadline is one of the worst developments a car accident victim can face. The filing deadline is, therefore, one of the most important reasons to hire your lawyer as soon as possible.

Important Evidence May Go Unclaimed

Your case may weaken if valuable evidence becomes unavailable before you hire a lawyer. In the worst-case scenario, a weaker case can mean you receive less compensation than you deserve—or no compensation.

Insurance Companies May Get Their Way (at Your Expense)

Without a lawyer’s protection, an insurance company may:

  • Convince you to admit fault for the car accident (perhaps forfeiting insurance coverage as a result)
  • Convince you to give an on-the-record statement that is detrimental to your case
  • Convince you to accept a lowball settlement offer that does not adequately cover your accident-related losses

Once you accept an insurance company’s settlement offer, it likely prevents you from seeking further compensation from the insurer. Therefore, if an insurance company has access to you before you hire a lawyer, your lack of an attorney can have catastrophic financial consequences.

You May Face a Massive Financial Burden

If you miss the filing deadline or accept a lowball settlement offer, you can face a large out-of-pocket cost for your accident. When you hire a lawyer, they will deal with insurers, file your case before the deadline expires, and fight for the financial recovery you deserve.

How Should I Find a Car Accident Lawyer?

How Should I Find a Car Accident Lawyer

You can find a car accident lawyer by:

  • Googling car accident lawyers in your area
  • Asking friends, family, and coworkers if they have used a car accident lawyer before (and if they recommend that particular law firm)
  • Responding to local advertisements for personal injury lawyers

These methods will provide you with a pool of possible attorneys. The next step will be to choose the law firm you believe is best suited to handle your case.

How Do I Evaluate Potential Lawyers to Lead My Case?

You can use several objective criteria to evaluate prospective lawyers, including:

  • The law firm’s practice areas (the firm should explicitly advertise car accidents as a practice area)
  • The law firm’s case results (which you may find on each firm’s website)
  • The law firm’s client reviews (which will tell you whether former clients are typically satisfied or dissatisfied with the firm’s services)

Also, use your instincts and firsthand experience to choose your lawyer. This means completing free consultations, which most car accident lawyers offer.

A free consultation is a phone call with a law firm, during which time you may:

  • Experience how the firm’s representatives treat prospective clients
  • Ask the firm’s representative why the firm is qualified to lead your case
  • Ask the firm’s representative about case results it has achieved for clients in circumstances similar to yours

Only you can determine which law firm is right for you. Once you find that firm, please don’t wait to hire them.

What a Car Accident Lawyer Can Do for You

A car accident lawyer will make your case their responsibility, completing every step, including:

Compiling All Relevant Evidence

Attorneys and their investigators waste no time in gathering evidence and may collect:

  • Eyewitness testimony about how the accident happened
  • The police report documenting the accident
  • An expert’s physical or digital reconstruction of the collision
  • Any video footage related to the accident, including that showing the moment of impact
  • Photographs of the accident scene
  • Photographs of damaged vehicles

Your lawyer may have one or more investigators who will help compile all evidence that helps your case.

Hiring Any Experts Who Will Benefit Your Case 

A law firm’s financial resources may be one of its greatest benefits to you.

The firm may use those resources to hire experts who may:

  • Testify about who is liable for the accident
  • Calculate the value of your accident (especially if you need complex medical services or have other complicated damages)
  • Reconstruct the accident
  • Help determine your long-term care needs

The firm will cover all expert fees, so you will not face the direct cost of experts’ services.

Documenting and Calculating Your Damages

A car accident lawyer must determine exactly how much money their client deserves. Your lawyer will do this by documenting your accident-related damages.

Important documentation may include:

  • Medical bills
  • Images of injuries
  • Doctors’ diagnoses of your injuries
  • A mental health expert’s diagnosis of any accident-related pain and suffering
  • Invoices for any mental health treatment you receive
  • Invoices for vehicle repairs and other accident-related property costs

Motor vehicle accidents routinely cost the victim tens of thousands of dollars and even more when they have a disabling injury. Your lawyer will seek definitive proof of your damages so they may convince liable parties to pay for those damages.

Negotiating a Settlement

Odds are that your case will end with a settlement, as most do. However, liable parties will not simply hand over the money you deserve. Your lawyer will have to fight for a fair settlement.

Having a lawyer negotiate on your behalf may be wise because:

  • You may lack experience negotiating financial settlements
  • Your lawyer may have ample experience negotiating financial settlements
  • Your attorney will have the credible leverage of knowing how to file a lawsuit
  • Your attorney will be psychologically prepared for even the most challenging negotiation

Even if you have experience negotiating with insurance companies, your car accident may have taken a toll. You may lack the energy or psychological fortitude to emerge from a difficult negotiation with the settlement you deserve.

Going to Trial

This step is often unnecessary. Trials can increase expenses and prolong the length of a car accident case. However, you should allow for the possibility of a trial.

Your attorney will weigh the liable parties’ best settlement offer against the monetary cost of your damages. If a trial is realistic, you and your lawyer will agree to accept the best settlement offer or proceed to court.

Your Lawyer Will Demand Fair Compensation for Your Car Accident

A car accident lawyer has a clear mission, which is obtaining compensation to cover their client’s accident-related damages. This means your lawyer must be intimately familiar with the nature and extent of your damages, which may include:

Healthcare Expenses

Your attorney will collaborate with your doctor to calculate your medical expenses. Whether you are already close to healing, have a long road of medical care ahead, or are permanently disabled, your attorney will calculate the cost of your healthcare.

Professional Harm (Including Lost Income)

The physical and psychological toll of an accident can knock victims out of work, which may cause:

  • Lost income
  • Diminished earning power
  • Lost productivity
  • Missed bonuses and promotions
  • Lost benefits
  • Loss of the psychological benefits of employment

Your attorney may consult an economist to calculate the full value of your professional damages.

Property Damage

Property damage is usually certain when vehicles collide. You should receive compensation for vehicle repairs, replacement of a totaled vehicle, and the cost of repairing or replacing any other damaged property.

Pain and Suffering

Car accidents also have a non-economic cost, and pain and suffering is the most common form of non-economic harm among car accident victims.

This category of damages can include:

  • Lost quality of life
  • Sleep problems
  • Physical pain
  • Depression 
  • Anxiety
  • Other problems resulting from the accident

Mental health experts will be key collaborators as your lawyer gauges the cost of your pain and suffering.

If you lost a loved one because of a fatal car accident, a lawyer will pursue justice for you and your loved ones. They will consider funeral costs, loss of consortium, lost financial support, and all other harm caused by the fatal accident.

Don’t Worry About the Cost of Hiring a Lawyer

Lawyers require no upfront fee from you, so don’t wait to find the legal support you deserve. The sooner you hire a Las Vegas personal injury attorney, the sooner they will begin fighting for your financial recovery.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation Today!


Ed Bernstein

Edward M. Bernstein, Esq. is the owner and founding partner of Edward M. Bernstein & Associates, and one of the most recognizable figures in Nevada. Ed is one of state’s premier personal injury attorneys and has hosted The Ed Bernstein Show for over 31 years. He has served the Las Vegas community for decades with dozens of community appointments and terms of service. In the year 2000, he was Nevada’s Democratic nominee for the United States Senate.

Ed received his B.A. from Long Island University in 1971 and his J.D. from Widener University in 1975. Since then, Ed’s professional accolades include numerous publications, honors and awards, court appointments, and has been named one of America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.