So you were just involved in an accident (motor vehicle accident, slip and fall, or hurt by a product) and you have received the necessary medcial attention immediately after the accident. Now what? Do you need an attorney? The short answer: you should at least consult with an attorney, but you may not need one.
The first couple of days immediately after an accident usually involves a flurry of activity. You will likely see medical providers (maybe a lot of different medical providers). Insurance companies (your insurer and the other person’s insurer) are going to want to ask you questions about the accident – they may even want to ask you questions about the accident and record your answer. The insurance companies will also likely request a list of medical providers from you and ask you to sign a medical release so they can obtain your medical records. The insurance companies may want you to sign other documents or try to settle your claims right away. Remember, adjusters at insurance companies (both your insurer and the other party’s insurer) often seem pleasant, understanding, and nice, but they are professionals and everything they are asking you is geared towards resolving your case for the least amount of money and medical treatment as possible and as quickly as possible.
So the big questions: do you have to speak to the insurance companies and, if so, with which insurance company do you have to speak; do you have to sign a medical release; do you have to answer their questions (either recorded or not); what happens if you “settle” a case or “release” a party; or do you need to settle or release a party immediately? The answers to these questions can change depending on the unique circumstances and facts in each situation because the answer to these questions depend so much upon your situation and, meeting with an attorney can help.
One of my favorite titles sometimes given to attorneys is “counselor.” As counselors, we provide you with advice and guidance. We listen to your questions, look at the options, look at the law and help you understand your obligations, rights, and the benefits and risks of your possible actions so you can make informed decisions. Another title often given to attorneys is “advocate.” As advocates, we will fight to protect your rights and handle the details so you can focus on getting healthy.
Generally, if you are hurt in an accident, I recommend at least meeting with an attorney as soon as possible. While not everyone may need an attorney, by just speaking with an attorney you can learn what rights you may have, important deadlines that must be followed, and whether you need an attorney to represent you. Most personal injury attorneys will provide you with a free initial consultation, so there is very little risk of meeting with an attorney upfront.
DISCLAIMER – This article is only meant to provide general information and not legal advice. Since every case and facts are unique and different, readers should not act upon the information contained in this article without seeking advice from an attorney. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship.