When to Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident?

February 1, 2024 | By Steffens Law Office
When to Hire an Attorney After a Car Accident?

A network of interstates and roads crisscross Nebraska, keeping its residents and visitors on the move. While these well-traveled routes facilitate the daily lives of many, they also bear witness to their fair share of car accidents. Accidents can happen anywhere, anytime, whether it's busy I-80, the snaking I-480, or one of the many city streets in Omaha, Lincoln, North Platte, or beyond. 

Car accidents can be traumatic experiences, and the aftermath can be overwhelming. Whether it's a minor fender-bender or a more serious collision, knowing when to hire a car accident attorney in Nebraska after a car accident in Nebraska is crucial. It requires more than just a good GPS. It demands an understanding of Nebraska's laws, insurance regulations, and the unique challenges that arise when accidents occur on the interstates and roadways that crisscross this great state.

In this blog post, we’ll explore when to hire an attorney for a car accident two different ways:

  • Under what circumstances should you hire a lawyer for a car accident and
  • How soon after your accident should you retain legal representation

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Under What Circumstances Should I Hire a Lawyer After a Car Accident?

Here are some key factors to consider when deciding if and when to hire an attorney after a car accident in Nebraska.

The Severity of Injuries

One of the most critical factors in determining whether to hire an attorney after a car accident is the severity of injuries sustained. If you or anyone involved in the accident has suffered severe injuries that require medical treatment, hospitalization, surgery, or rehabilitation, it's advisable to consult with an attorney. 

Severe injuries often result in extensive medical bills, lost earnings, and long-term healthcare needs, making legal representation essential to ensure you receive fair compensation.

Your Injuries Prevent You from Working 

If you or a loved one suffer serious injuries, you may be unable to work and earn a living while you recover. In this case, you may be eligible for the income you could have earned had you not suffered injuries, including compensation for sick leave or medical leave benefits your employer provided. 

Sometimes, injuries prevent someone from returning to their job in the same capacity, and they may lose some of their earning potential. In this case, you may be entitled to compensation for the loss of future earning capacity.

The Accident Resulted in Fatal Injuries

Losing a loved one in a fatal car accident is devastating. No amount of money will take away your heartache and grief. However, surviving family members may be eligible to seek justice on behalf of their deceased loved one through a wrongful death claim

These claims cover the cost of funeral and burial expenses, medical expenses related to the deceased's final injury, and any financial support they would have contributed to the household and family had they survived the accident. 

Liability and Fault

Establishing liability and fault is essential in any car accident case. Nebraska follows a "modified comparative fault" rule, meaning that if you are found partially at fault for the accident, you may still be able to recover compensation for your damages. Still, your percentage of fault may reduce the amount of compensation you can get. 

If there is a dispute over liability or fault in your case, it's crucial to have an attorney on your side to investigate the accident, gather evidence, and protect your interests.

Complexity of the Case

Some car accident cases are more complex than others. If multiple parties are involved, if there are disputes over liability, or if the accident involves a commercial vehicle, the case may become more intricate. 

In such situations, having an experienced attorney who understands Nebraska's laws and regulations is crucial to navigating the complexities of the legal process.

Insurance Company Tactics

Dealing with insurance companies can be challenging. Insurance adjusters may attempt to settle your claim quickly and for a minimal amount. You may not be aware of all the damages you can claim. And you may not have the time or effort to challenge the insurance company's offer. 

An attorney can level the playing field, as they can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and ensure you are not taken advantage of during the claims process.

Be aware that if you accept an offer from the insurance company, you may be waiving your right to seek additional funds if your injuries require more medical attention than you initially expected or you are unable to work longer than planned. Your lawyer can ensure that your claim accounts for these unexpected damages.

Maximum Compensation

A skilled car accident attorney knows how to calculate the full extent of your damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and future costs. They will work to ensure you receive the maximum compensation possible for your injuries and losses.

How Soon After a Car Accident Should You Hire a Lawyer?

You should consult a lawyer as soon as possible after a car crash that involves injuries. The sooner you hire a lawyer, the sooner they can gather evidence to support your claim. Evidence and eyewitness memories can fade over time, weakening your claim. 

Furthermore, if the insurance company refuses to make a fair offer, your lawyer may advise that you file your case in civil court. States have strict deadlines for filing car accident lawsuits, called statutes of limitations. 

In Nebraska, you generally have four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. However, some exceptions can shorten or lengthen this timeframe. For example, if you lost a loved one in a car accident, you have just two years from the date of their death to file a wrongful death case.

Promptly consulting with an attorney is essential, as gathering evidence and building a strong case takes time. Waiting too long to seek legal representation and missing the statute of limitations could jeopardize your ability to recover damages through the court. 

What Impact Does a Car Accident Have on an Injured Person and Their Family?

A car accident can have a profound and far-reaching impact on both the injured person and their family. The consequences of a car accident extend beyond physical injuries and often affect various aspects of a person's life, as well as those close to them. 

The most immediate and apparent impact of a car accident is physical injuries, which can range from minor cuts and bruises to severe trauma, such as broken bones, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and even fatalities. 

Recovery from these injuries may require extensive medical treatment, surgeries, and rehabilitation, leading to physical pain and limitations. In some cases, car accidents can result in permanent disabilities or long-term health issues, significantly impacting the injured person's independence and quality of life. This loss of autonomy can be emotionally distressing and require significant adjustments in family life.

Car accidents can also be emotionally traumatic experiences. Survivors may experience a range of emotions, including shock, fear, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These emotional scars can impact the individual's mental health and well-being, as well as their relationships with family members.

The injured person may require extensive caregiving and support from family members. This can alter the family's dynamics and place additional responsibilities on spouses, children, or other relatives. It may also affect the injured person's ability to participate in family activities and responsibilities.

Accidents often result in substantial financial burdens. Medical bills, rehabilitation costs, and ongoing healthcare expenses can quickly accumulate. Additionally, lost income due to time off work during recovery can strain a family's finances. These financial challenges can lead to stress and uncertainty. 

Sometimes, serious injuries from a car accident can lead to a person's inability to work or perform their job as they did before. This can jeopardize their career and financial stability, affecting the entire family's financial situation.

This stress, emotional turmoil, and financial strain can put a strain on relationships within the family. Communication may be affected, and family members may struggle to provide the necessary emotional support.

Seeking legal representation and support and accessing necessary medical and psychological care can be essential in navigating the challenges and seeking compensation for the damages incurred.

How Can a Nebraska Car Accident Lawyer Help You?

Knowing when to hire an attorney after a car accident in Nebraska is a decision that you should make carefully. While not every accident may require legal representation, it's essential to consider the severity of injuries, liability and fault, insurance company tactics, the statute of limitations, the complexity of the case, and the potential for maximum compensation. 

Consulting an experienced personal injury attorney in Nebraska at Steffens Law Offices, P.C., can provide you with the guidance and support you need during this challenging time. Don't hesitate to reach out for a consultation to protect your rights and secure the compensation you deserve. Your recovery may depend on it.