Auto accidents can range from an inconvenience to a life changing event that leaves you or a loved one seriously injured. Under some circumstances it is wise to seek legal counsel following an automobile accident. Below are some circumstances where it would be prudent to speak with a lawyer.
Liability is Unclear
In most accidents, it is clear which party was at fault for the accident. Consider a driver who ran a red light and struck a car going through an intersection, in this case the driver who ran the red light is clearly at fault. Assuming the driver was in their own car, had insurance, and no one was seriously injured, this case is simple and can be handled through insurance with no need for legal representation. But in many accidents liability isn’t clear, and in those cases it’s important each party have legal guidance. If both parties are to blame for the accident, it is also prudent for each party to have legal representation.
If a Serious Injury is a Result of the Accident
Anytime someone is seriously injured in an automobile accident it is important to speak with a lawyer. Whether you are the injured party or someone in the other car, you need representation. Because serious injury can lead to costly medical bills, an ongoing disability, or an inability to work or care for loved ones, it is imperative that you be represented and protected.
If you are Driving a Borrowed Car
When you are involved in an auto accident in a borrowed car, things can get complicated with insurance companies. As a general rule, your car is insured, not you, so when driving a borrowed car, you are utilizing the car owner’s insurance. So in the case of an accident things can quickly become complicated and you may need legal help. If the car is properly registered and insured, the owner’s insurance generally will cover any expenses related to the accident, however if the damage exceeds the owner’s insurance plan, the remainder will be covered by the driver. When someone allows another person to borrow their car they are assuming responsibility for that driver, and unfortunately their insurance premiums and rates can increase due to an accident.
If you are Uninsured
If you’ve been in an accident involving an uninsured driver, whether you are the driver or the other party, it’s important to seek legal counsel as quickly as possible. With the exception of New Hampshire, it is illegal to own a car without liability coverage, so you or the other party could find themselves in more trouble than anticipated. If you are uninsured (and so is your car), you’ll need to speak with a lawyer about settling the accident claim, but you’ll also need help navigating any fines or to avoid any jail time.
If you have a History of Serious Accidents
Another circumstance where you’ll want legal counsel is if you’ve been involved in serious accidents in the past. Insurance companies look for trends in drivers and a history of serious accidents may alter your insurance coverage, or in the end leave you uninsured.
While many car accidents are cut and dry and don’t require any legal counsel, some do. In cases where liability is unclear, injury is a factor, and insurance coverage is unclear, it is wise to contact a lawyer as soon as possible.