Immediately after a car accident, it can be difficult to know if you need a car accident attorney. Here are some key times when it’s important to hire an attorney to protect your rights:

  • Immediately After the Accident: Consulting with an attorney immediately provides guidance on steps to take at the scene, including documenting damage, getting witness contact info, and more. An attorney can advise you on how to  report the accident, and handle communications with insurance companies.
  • If You’re Injured: Even minor injuries like whiplash may warrant hiring an attorney. Severe injuries make legal help essential. An experienced lawyer can handle negotiations so you can focus on recovery. They’ll fight to maximize compensation for medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering, and other costs.
  • If the Insurance Company is Being Difficult: If an insurer denies your claim, delays processing, or makes a lowball offer, an attorney levels the playing field. They have the savvy experience to negotiate fair compensation. The insurance company recognizes an attorney can litigate unfair offers. You are simply not equipped to “go it alone”. Don’t accept what the insurer offers until discussing it with a lawyer.
  • For Help Recovering Damages: Car accident attorneys know how to calculate and pursue all possible avenues of compensation. This includes damages like loss of future earning capacity that you may not have considered. With an attorney, you can be assured of recovering maximum compensation for your injuries and losses.

Common Causes of Car Accidents

Car accidents can be caused by a variety of factors, from driver error to hazardous road conditions. Some of the most common causes of crashes include:

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is one of the leading contributors to car accidents. Drivers who engage in activities like texting, talking on the phone, eating, adjusting music, or attending to children and pets take their focus off the road. This distracted state can lead to running red lights, swerving, and rear-end collisions.

Drunk Driving

Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs significantly impairs coordination, reaction time, and judgment. Intoxicated drivers have slower reflexes and difficulty controlling speed and lane position. Drunk driving causes thousands of fatal crashes every year.


Excessive speed gives drivers less time to react and extends the distance required to stop. Speeding reduces control and increases the risk of accidents, especially on curves and in hazardous conditions. High speeds in residential areas also endanger pedestrians.

Hazardous Weather

Inclement weather like rain, snow, fog, and ice reduces traction and visibility for drivers. Wet roads lead to hydroplaning and longer stopping distances. Icy conditions make it easier to lose control and slide off the road. Fog and heavy rain obscure vision and hazards. Drivers need to slow down and increase following distance.

Proving Liability After a Car Accident

To receive compensation after a car accident, you must be able to prove liability – that the other driver failed to use reasonable care. There are four main elements your attorney must establish:

Duty of Care

All drivers have a duty to operate their vehicles safely and responsibly. This includes obeying traffic laws, being aware of road conditions, avoiding distractions, and accounting for the actions of other drivers. If a driver fails to uphold this duty, they are negligent.

Breach of Duty

This occurs when a driver’s actions fail to meet the standard duty of care. Examples include speeding, running a red light, texting while driving, driving under the influence, and other reckless behaviors. Evidence like police reports, witness statements, and crash reconstruction can help prove a breach of duty.


Your attorney must demonstrate a direct link between the other driver’s breach of duty and the accident itself. For example, if a driver speeding at 70 mph is unable to stop, where at 55 mph he would have, the speeding directly caused the crash.


You must have suffered identifiable damages and losses as a result of the accident. Compensable damages include past medical bills, lost income, car repairs, pain and suffering, and future medical expenses, loss of earnings and pain. Your attorney will seek full compensation for all your damages.

By establishing these four elements, your attorney can build a strong liability claim against the at-fault driver. This provides the legal basis for recovering compensation for your losses.

Working with Insurance Companies

After a car accident, you’ll likely need to work with insurance companies to receive compensation for your injuries and damages. An experienced car accident attorney can help navigate this process and get the maximum settlement or award possible.

Understanding Insurance Policies

Your attorney will review all potentially applicable insurance policies, including your own and the at-fault driver’s. This includes auto liability insurance, uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, medical payments coverage, and any umbrella or excess policies. They’ll advise you on the coverage available and ensure an accurate accounting of all applicable policy limits during negotiations.

Dealing with Insurance Adjusters

Insurance adjusters represent the interests of the insurer, not the injured party. They may try to minimize claims and get recorded statements that hurt your case. An attorney acts as a conduit for communications, and your advocate; handling communications and negotiations. They know what information to provide, what to withhold, and when a lawsuit may pressure the insurer to offer a fair settlement.

Maximizing Compensation

Experienced car accident lawyers employ proven strategies to maximize compensation for clients. This includes submitting a thorough demand package documenting all damages, negotiating firmly and strategically, and being ready to take the case to trial if needed. They determine what your claim is truly worth and won’t settle for less than full and fair compensation. With an attorney on your side, you’re more likely to recover greater damages.

Types of Damages You Can Recover

After being injured in a car accident that was caused by another driver’s negligence, there are several types of damages you can seek compensation for with the help of an experienced car accident attorney. The at-fault driver and their insurance company may be responsible for paying these damages.

Medical Bills

One of the most common types of damages in a car accident case are the medical bills related to treating your injuries. This includes ambulance fees, hospital bills, costs for imaging, surgery, prescription medications, physical therapy, and any other medical expenses that result from the accident. Your attorney can help calculate both the medical expenses you have already paid as well as the estimated costs of any future treatment your physicians indicate you may need.

Lost Income

If your injuries force you to miss work and lose wages or profits, you can recover compensation for that lost income. Your attorney can calculate your lost earnings by reviewing your pay stubs or self-employment income and accounting for any sick or vacation time you used after the accident. If your injuries are severe and you cannot return to work, your attorney may hire experts to assess your lost future earning capacity.

Pain and Suffering

Pain and suffering refers to physical pain and emotional distress caused by the accident and your injuries. Back and neck injuries, broken bones, concussions, and scarring often result in significant pain and suffering. Your attorney will advocate for pain and suffering damages based on the unique circumstances of your case.

Property Damage

If your vehicle or other personal property was damaged in the car crash, you can seek repair or replacement costs as part of your claim. Your attorney can work with auto repair shops or other vendors to calculate accurate property damage costs. Save all repair estimates, invoices, and receipts.

Importance of an Attorney After an Auto Accident

After an injury accident, it’s crucial to take steps to protect your legal rights and ability to recover damages. An experienced attorney can provide invaluable guidance, but there are important actions you should take as well:

Seek Medical Attention Immediately

Even if you believe you will recover completely, it’s important to get examined by a doctor as soon as possible. Some injuries take time to become fully revealed. An injured spinal disc might not show symptoms for days or weeks after an accident. Seeing a doctor creates a record of your injuries and treatment that can support your claim.

Document the Accident Scene

Take photos of damage to all vehicles, skid marks, debris, weather conditions, and anything else relevant. Get contact information for any witnesses while details are fresh. Thorough documentation provides critical evidence.

Avoid Admitting Fault

What you say after an accident can come back to haunt you. Be cooperative with police, but don’t speculate about what happened or accept blame. Let your attorney do the talking when it comes to determining fault.

Consult an Attorney ASAP

An attorney can launch an investigation, preserve evidence, and advise you on interacting with insurance companies. The sooner you hire a lawyer, the stronger your ability to recover maximum compensation. Don’t wait!

Consulting with an experienced car accident attorney shortly after an accident is vital to protecting your rights. An attorney can help you navigate the legal, medical, and insurance issues ahead.

Choosing the Right Car Accident Attorney

Choosing the right car accident attorney is crucial for maximizing your compensation and successfully resolving your claim. Here are some key factors to consider when hiring a lawyer:

Experience Level

Look for an attorney with extensive experience handling car accident cases, preferably 5+ years specifically focused on auto collisions. An experienced lawyer will understand how to navigate the claims process, deal with insurance companies, prove negligence, and get you the maximum settlement. The State Bar Association designation of a “Civil Trial Specialist” ensures the attorney has been vetted for trial experience and competence. 

Track Record

Ask about the lawyer’s case results and settlement amounts for past clients. An attorney with a proven track record of large settlements and jury verdicts has the skills to effectively argue your case. More importantly, the insurer will have data concerning the trial success rate of your attorney. Make sure they have a high success rate.


Hire a lawyer that is licensed in your state and is convenient to you. Local attorneys will understand the claims process and laws in your jurisdiction, and likely possess familiarity with local Court Administration. It’s also more convenient to meet them in person.

Fees and Payment Options

Most car accident attorneys work on contingency, taking a percentage of your settlement (usually 33.33%) rather than charging hourly fees. Also ask if any costs are covered if you lose. Some lawyers offer free consultations.

By researching these factors, you can find the right attorney to fight for you after an accident. Having an experienced lawyer in your corner levels the playing field against big insurance companies.

What to Expect During the Legal Process

Once you hire a car accident attorney, there are several stages involved in resolving your claim. Here’s an overview of what you can expect:

Investigation Stage

Your lawyer will start by thoroughly investigating the accident. This involves gathering evidence like police reports, photographs of the scene and damage, witness statements, and more. Your attorney may hire accident reconstruction experts to analyze how the crash occurred and determine fault. They will also obtain your medical records to document your injuries.

Demand Letters and Negotiations

After completing the investigation, and conferring with your physicians, your attorney will send a demand letter to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. This letter outlines your damages and the compensation you are seeking. Your attorney will then negotiate a settlement with the insurer. In most cases, a fair settlement is reached through these negotiations without going to court.

Litigation if No Settlement

If the insurance company does not offer a satisfactory settlement, your attorney may file a personal injury lawsuit. This starts the litigation process, which may involve motions, discovery, depositions, and eventually a civil trial. Your attorney will represent you through every stage of litigation. The goal is to obtain a favorable verdict or settlement prior to trial. However, your attorney will take your case to trial if needed to maximize your recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

Many questions and concerns arise after being involved in a car accident. Here are some of the most common FAQs regarding car accident cases and working with an attorney:

What is the statute of limitations for filing a car accident claim?

The statute of limitations refers to the deadline for filing a lawsuit related to a car accident. In Minnesota you have 6 years from the date of the accident to file a claim before it expires. Wrongful death or liquor liability cases have shorter limitation periods. An experienced attorney can advise you on the specific statute of limitations in your jurisdiction.

How do contingency fees work with car accident attorneys?

Most car accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means the attorney only gets paid if they recover compensation for you. The fee is a percentage of your settlement, often around 33.33%. Contingency fees help accident victims access legal services without paying hourly fees upfront.

What if I was partially at fault for the accident?

Most states follow comparative negligence rules. This means you can still recover damages even if you were partially responsible, but your compensation will be reduced by your percentage of fault. An attorney can help show the other driver was more negligent and maximize your payout.

Will hiring an attorney increase my settlement?

Statistics show accident victims receive substantially higher settlements when represented by an attorney versus handling it alone. Attorneys have the expertise to prove liability, demonstrate damages, and negotiate optimally with insurers.

How long does a car accident claim take to resolve?

The timeline varies substantially case-by-case. Simple claims with clear liability may settle within months. However, it is unwise to settle until you have a firm grasp of your prognosis and future care needs. Complex cases involving major injuries, disputed fault, or litigation could easily take several years. An attorney will advise you on realistic timeframes.

What evidence helps prove the other driver’s fault?

Police reports, witness statements, photographs of the accident scene, video footage, data from the vehicles, and medical records help establish fault and negligence. An attorney will gather all pertinent evidence to build the strongest case.

Conclusion and Key Takeaways

Hiring an experienced car accident attorney is critical for protecting your rights and obtaining maximum compensation after an auto accident. Here are some of the key reasons why legal representation is so important:

  • Navigating the claims process: The insurance claims process can be complex and confusing. An attorney has the expertise to handle negotiations with insurance companies and make sure you receive a fair settlement.
  • Proving liability and damages: Establishing negligence and proving the full extent of your damages often requires extensive investigation and legal skills. An attorney knows how to build a strong case by gathering evidence and proving losses.
  • Avoiding reduced settlements: Insurance companies may try to lowball offers or deny valid claims. An attorney can determine the full value of your case and fight for the maximum compensation you deserve.
  • Leveling the playing field: Going up against insurance company legal teams on your own is extremely difficult. An attorney levels the playing field and handles the legal complexities.
  • No upfront costs: Most car accident attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning no fees until you receive a settlement. This removes financial barriers to top legal representation.

The aftermath of a car accident is stressful enough without trying to handle your claim alone. Consult with an experienced car accident attorney to fully protect your rights and maximize the compensation you receive for your injuries, vehicle damage, lost wages, and other losses. With an attorney on your side, you can focus on recovery while they handle the legal process.

Contact Kiernan Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A. at (763) 682-1082 for a free consultation.