Between insurance dealings, disagreements about who was at fault, and a variety of rules and procedures that have to be followed, navigating the aftermath of a car accident alone can be overwhelming. It is not uncommon, if all parties agree on the details of the accident and if the insurance company acts accordingly and fairly, then you may think that you do not need an attorney.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and you may not realize it until it is too late to receive the compensation that you deserve. Here are some things to consider if you are thinking about hiring a South Dakota car accident attorney after your accident.

Can I handle a car accident settlement by myself?

The overall process may vary depending on the circumstances of your case. In most cases, the process commences when a claim is filed with an insurance company.  The insurance company will investigate your claim, then either reject it or offer you a settlement. If a settlement is offered and you do not agree with it, you may reject the settlement in turn. Even an apparently straightforward claim may take months to settle, and a complex case may take years. In the meantime, you may have bills that need to be paid.

Every case is different, and the timeline for your settlement depends on a variety of factors, including the number of parties that are involved and the nature of the damage and injuries caused by the accident. If you are also unsure what you are entitled to, it is very easy to become overwhelmed quickly by the process.  

Turbak Law Office accepts most car accident cases on a contingency fee basis: your attorney will not get paid until you have been compensated. Moreover, if you do not receive compensation, you will typically not be responsible for paying for the attorney’s services.  

Hiring an attorney early on can avoid expensive mistakes

You will have to make a number of important decisions soon after your car accident, especially after you have contacted your insurance company. Depending on the severity of the accident, you may have to think about damage to your vehicle or other property, medical bills following treatment for injuries, lost wages from time taken off work, or mental distress caused by the experience.  If you were involved in an accident involving a number of vehicles, it may not yet have been determined who is at fault, and many different insurance companies may be involved.

Regardless of the seeming complexity, or simplicity, of the matter, you may be tempted to reach a settlement with an insurance company quickly.  If you agree to a settlement early only to discover that it is not enough, you will not have a second chance to negotiate. Legally, you have three years after a car accident to request a remedy from a South Dakota civil court for a personal injury claim against an at fault driver, but it is to your advantage to consult with a car accident lawyer as soon as possible after the event if you need an experienced party to help you navigate any complications that arise  Claims against governmental entities have additional procedural hurdles and deadlines and you need to act quickly to preserve your legal rights in these instances.

Additionally, many times there are parties that must be paid back first out of settlements or judgments in personal injury claims, like health insurers or medical payments providers.  Failing to account for “reimbursement” or “subrogation” claims can be extremely costly. The car accident attorneys at Turbak Law Office, P.C. are well versed in the rules of “reimbursement” and “subrogation” and will help you navigate these parts of your claim, keeping your best interests in mind.

Are all parties in agreement?

South Dakota is a tort state, so the person who caused the accident pays the damages for everyone else involved.  Contacting a car accident lawyer is especially important, then, if all parties do not agree about the details of the accident, especially who was at fault.

A unique form of “Contributory negligence” rules also apply in South Dakota. That means that fault can be divided in a car accident, and it also means that you cannot be awarded damages if you were more than slightly at fault for what happened. If you are less than slightly at fault, you can still recover, but it will affect your compensation in a car accident lawsuit settlement. If you know that you were at fault for the accident, or if another party claims that you were, you should discuss the situation with a car accident lawyer as soon as possible after the accident, especially if anyone was injured.

Has any party been seriously injured?

Car accident claims that involve significant, or fatal, injuries often take a long time to settle and are very complex in nature. Major claims may include the cost of extensive medical care and treatment, hospitalization, surgery, rehab, replacement services and non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. There is usually too much at risk in these situations to forego hiring an experienced car accident attorney.  

How much compensation will I receive after my car accident?

There are many different factors that go into determining what monetary compensation you receive following a car accident.  Damages awarded may include vehicle damage, medical bills, and lost wages. You may also be entitled to damages for pain and suffering or emotional distress. Hiring a car accident attorney may make the settlement process go more quickly and more smoothly and avoid dangerous pitfalls; it may also help you to recover damages that you did not know to ask for.

For more information

If you think an attorney should be involved following your car accident, then take action as quickly as possible. For more information, contact Turbak Law Office today at (866) 231-0914.