Do I Need a Car Accident Attorney?
If you or a loved one have been in a car accident, you might be wondering if you need an attorney.
To make this decision, you’ll need to ask a few questions:
- Were you seriously injured, and/or did you incur significant vehicle or property damage?
- Is your case within the statute of limitations?
- Who was at fault in the accident?
Let’s talk about how the answers to these questions will help you determine whether or not you need a car accident attorney. Keep reading to find out.
Were You Seriously Injured? Did Your Vehicle Get Damaged?
Car accidents where no injuries or significant property damage occur do not need a car accident attorney. That’s because there are no losses for which a person can make a claim, and no compensation to win. For example, if you were involved in a minor fender bender, your case wouldn’t need the help of an attorney.
However, if you were involved in a more serious accident, where you or a loved one were injured, your case may benefit from professional help. An experienced car accident attorney can help you manage your complex case, obtain the evidence needed to prove your case, and negotiate on your behalf to obtain the maximum compensation possible.
If your medical bills total in the thousands of dollars and you have lost wages from time spent off work, you may seriously consider contacting an attorney.
Depending on your case, you may be able to receive compensatory damages for:
- Cost of medical treatment
- Lost income
- Property loss
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment
- Loss of consortium (e.g., the negative impact the injuries had on your relationship with your spouse)
In addition, in particularly serious cases, punitive damages may be awarded. Punitive damages are different from compensatory damages (listed above) because they are designed to punish the wrong-doer.
Is Your Case within the Statute of Limitations?
A “statute of limitations” is, basically, a state law that puts a time limit on your right to file a lawsuit.
In general, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury lawsuit is two years from the date of the car accident (and resulting injuries). The statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit, however, is two years from the date of the death. (Note that these two dates might not be the same!)
Unfortunately, if a case is not within the statute of limitations, it will generally be dismissed (with a few exceptions). If you aren’t sure if your case is within this time limit, it’s a good idea to talk to a knowledgeable car accident attorney.
Who Was at Fault in the Accident?
In Ohio, we have a system of “comparative fault.” What does this mean?
Under comparative fault laws, a person is allowed to sue someone as long as the other person is at least 51 percent at fault. (As in, they are more at fault than the person bringing the lawsuit). If the person bringing the lawsuit is 51 percent at fault (or more), they are not allowed to recover any compensation. That means that, if you are sure that you were at fault for your car accident, it’s likely your case would be dismissed.
In addition, comparative fault laws govern how much compensation you can expect to receive, based on the percentage you were at fault. Let’s look at two examples:
If you were hit by a car that ran a red light, while you had the right of way, the other driver would be 100 percent at fault. In this hypothetical scenario, you would receive 100 percent of any compensation awarded to you.
Now let’s say that, instead of getting hit, you were the one to hit someone else. You were going over the speed limit on a roundabout. Another car fails to give you the right of way when entering the roundabout, causing you to rear-end them. In this example scenario, the other driver would be mostly at fault (80 percent). However, you would also be somewhat at fault (20 percent), because your speeding prevented you from stopping in time. In this case, the compensation awarded to you would be reduced by 20 percent.
Fault is an extremely important part of your case—and it isn’t always so cut and dry. You have to prove that the other driver was at fault, which can often be tricky. Whether you are uncertain or sure about who was at fault for your accident, it’s a good idea to speak to an experienced car accident attorney. He or she can look at your case and help you understand how comparative fault may affect your compensation.
Call Us Today
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured in an accident, we are here for you. Whether you are certain you need a lawyer or are just considering your options, we can help. Call us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a skilled car accident attorney.