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Car Accidents

After the Crash

Why a good auto accident lawyer can change the trajectory of your life

Car crashes happen more frequently than you might think – and it’s not until you are in an accident that you realize how many of your friends, neighbors, friends’ neighbors, social media contacts, and co-workers have shared your anguish and anxiety. Whether it’s a single vehicle crash, a motorcycle accident, a bumper tap or a total car loss, there are emotions and stresses that are universal.

You may also find that, In the aftermath of a car crash, everyone suddenly turns into an expert, and everyone seems to have a different take, especially when it comes to hiring a lawyer. You’ll get all kinds of advice – all well-meaning, but definitely not all based in fact.

Some of the comments you may have heard:

“You really don’t need a lawyer – the insurance companies work it out.”
“If the police came to the scene, you don’t really need a lawyer.”
“Lawyers can get you way more money – even if you’re not injured!”
“It’s too much trouble to try to find a good lawyer, and they’re super expensive.”

Statements like these may have a grain of truth to them, but there are some things you need to know about how to get a lawyer involved in your case, and when you should consider that option. Aaron Jainchill and Bill Beckert, principals at the Plainville, CT legal firm of Jainchill & Beckert, Attorneys-at-Law, recently reviewed some of the questions they hear most often, and, as actual trained attorneys (unlike your friends and neighbors!), they shine some light on the questions that are most often asked, and what you need to consider if you’ve been in an auto accident.

Q: Should I go to the hospital after an accident? What if I’m not really hurt?

After you’ve been in an accident, you may be tempted to run for the comfort of home, especially if you’re not in pain or severely injured. Not so fast, says Attorney Jainchill. “In general, I recommend that you go to seek medical attention if you are experiencing any level of pain or discomfort,” he offered. “Often, injuries don’t appear immediately after the crash, and adrenaline could mask some of the pain you will feel later. Whiplash and concussions don’t always show up right away. It’s worth going in for an evaluation. What’s more, that visit could be important to your case later.”

Q: Who will cover my injury expenses?

A: It depends on the specifics of your accident. However, as a general rule of thumb is as follows:

  • If your car insurance carries medical payment coverage, that is primary. Be sure to provide the contact information and claim number of your insurance company to the medical provider.
  • If you don’t have medical payments coverage, or if your medical expenses exceed your coverage limits, your health insurance will cover the remaining medical expenses. In that circumstance, you are responsible for co-pays, and will be reimbursed by the at fault party at the time of settlement
  • If you don’t have health insurance, many medical providers (but not all) will provide treatment to you if you promise to reimburse them for the bills when your case is resolved. In this circumstance, it is critical to have a lawyer, as we can generally help you locate and gain access to treatment when you don’t have health insurance.

Attorney Beckert commented, “Navigating healthcare is tricky on a good day! And a car accident makes it even more complex! It’s worth talking to an experienced auto accident lawyer who has expertise in the specifics of healthcare – we can help you get the details of your coverage taken care of so you can move forward with your life, especially if you suffered a more serious injury.“

Q: How soon after an accident should I look for an attorney?

A: It is important to find a reputable attorney immediately after an accident in which you sustained injury or loss -- and before speaking to the at-fault party's insurance company. “If you are injured, it is critical to retain counsel as soon as possible, since what happens early on after an accident can be pivotal to whether you receive the rightful compensation for your physical and emotional distress,” Attorney Jainchill advises.

Q: What kind of attorney should I look for? Are there lawyers who specialize in auto accidents?

A: There are lawyers who have specialized skills to help you navigate the often-frustrating world of being compensated after a vehicle crash. It’s important to investigate before hiring someone to help you. You’ll need someone who is comfortable with the laws that are relevant so they can determine what types of damages and legal opportunities exist for you. Depending on your circumstances, you might also need to be defended against accusations of your own fault, so that may also be a factor in your research.

Attorney Beckert suggests a sit-down first. “There are lots of great lawyers who can help you, but you need to find someone who is not just competent and skilled, but also someone you feel comfortable with, and someone you trust. We always invite potential clients to come in and talk to us. It’s important to us at Jainchill & Beckert to know what the whole picture looks like and what your goals are. And if we don’t think we’re right for the job, we’ll help you find the attorney that meets your needs.”

Q: Is it worth getting an attorney after an accident?

A: If you face severe injuries in an accident and wish to get paid for your losses or damages, it is well worth speaking to an attorney. Hiring a lawyer who understands the legal landscape and details of topics like no fault insurance (in the states in which it is required), automotive mechanical failure, slippery roads, leased car accidents, and the specifics of motorcycle accidents is definitely worth the investment. Attorney Jainchill recommends a conversation regardless of the situation. “At Jainchill and Beckert, we offer a free consultation. We’re happy to look at your situation, listen to your story, and give you our thoughts on what you might need going forward.”

Q: What if it’s just a minor accident, or only my car was involved?

A: If your injuries are not severe or you did not suffer any damages or losses in the collision, you might not need legal representation. But Jainchill and Beckert both say it’s always a good idea to see what your options might be. “I would suggest that, if you have any questions, you contact us for a free consultation,” offered Attorney Beckert. “It couldn't hurt … and it could help you understand whether you have a case.”

Q: Do I need a copy of a police report?

A: The simple answer is “yes.” From Attorney Jainchill: “A police report contains vital information that provides evidence proving the cause of the crash, any physical injuries you may have suffered, and any damage to your vehicle. Don’t take the chance of being unprepared – after a crash, stay where you are and contact the police. That will help the legal process work the way it’s supposed to.”

Q: What is the typical contingency fee in a car accident case in Connecticut?

A: Under Connecticut law the contingency fee for the typical auto accident case is 33 1/3% It is important to note that our fees are different from expenses. We will advance any costs necessary to assist the development of your case. You will reimburse these costs from any settlement at the time the case is resolved.

Q: Will I have to pay money up front when I hire a motor vehicle accident lawyer?

A: Generally, no. You should ask up front about your ultimate financial obligation. Attorney Jainchill adds, “You may or may not be responsible for paying the upfront court fees and litigation expenses. The best auto accident lawyer will be clear about fees and expenses from the very start.”

Q: Is there a deadline or statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit to recover compensation for injuries?

A: As a plaintiff who has suffered injuries as the result of someone’s negligence in driving a motor vehicle, you have up to two years to file a lawsuit in Connecticut in most instances (although there are certain circumstances in which that time limit may be shorter or longer.) That means that, in most cases, you can bring a claim against the defendant within two years from the date of the accident. Other state regulations vary, so it’s best to act sooner rather than later.

Q: Can a lawyer help me to get a car rental?

A: “Absolutely!” says Attorney Beckert. “If you need a rental car, we can guide you through the process of securing one without putting yourself into financial stress. As long as you, or any other vehicle owners involved in your accident, have insurance, your rental car costs should be covered.” Attorney Jainchill adds, “This is another place where Jainchill & Beckert can take some of the stress off of you – it’s what we do, and it’s how we meet our goal of helping you to feel informed and empowered, and taking some of the burden off your shoulders.”

If you or someone you know is considering options following a car crash and you’re searching for the best auto accident lawyer, Jainchill & Beckert is a great place to start. We invite you to learn more about us, hear from our clients or fill out our form and set up a free consultation with us. Or get in touch with us at (860) 383-6719 – we’re ready to help you get past your accident and into your next chapter.

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