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I was just in an auto accident. Who do I call?

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The answer: First, call 9-1-1 or the police. Second, call an attorney. Third, call your insurance company.

Most people are usually shaken up and unsure of their next steps after getting into an accident. Your mind is racing with thoughts like, ‘Am I hurt?’ ‘Are my children are safe?’ ‘Do we need to move off the road?’ and ‘I really hope that other person has insurance.’ With so many thoughts, calling an attorney is one of the last things on your mind. In reality, it should be one of the first things you do after an auto accident.

More often than not, our clients call us seeking help months after they were involved in an accident. When we ask why they waited to call us, the story is typically the same; the process became too complicated, the insurance companies were beginning to act unfairly, or the other party to the accident started changing their story. This passage of time occurs frequently and poses many challenges for your potential case.

The goal for any good attorney is creating an exact picture describing the day of the accident for the jury. They need to present the weather conditions (rainy, windy, snowy, etc.), road conditions, and essentially show the jury exactly what happened. The more you place the jury in the actual setting of the accident, the more successful the outcome of your case. However, waiting months after an accident to call an attorney creates significant problems with preservation of evidence and trial preparation. Most attorneys will want to hire an investigator to travel to the scene of the accident and take pictures. If your car accident was in June, and you waited six months to call an attorney in December, the road conditions will be different (possibly covered in snow), the weather will be different, and the surrounding area might change (i.e. road work, construction).

The passage of time also causes problems if you were injured as a result of your accident. It is difficult to remember exactly how you felt after the incident, the course of your medical treatment, and the severity of your pain. Calling an attorney early after an accident, allows us to walk you through the entire process and ensure all of the relevant evidence is preserved in order to put your best case forward.

If you call or retain an attorney, it does not automatically mean your case will go to trial. Attorneys can be incredibly helpful in dealing with insurance companies and the other party to the case. In addition, an attorney coordinates any medical treatment and investigation regarding the accident. You want to ensure all of the evidence is preserved in the event you go to trial. You are likely to lose important evidence the longer you wait to call.

So, if you are ever in an auto accident, call 9-1-1 first, then call an attorney, and contact your insurance company. This alleviates the stressful process of dealing with the accident so you can focus on your recovery, and make sure we put forth the best case possible for you. If you, or someone you know, were injured in an auto accident, call Ian Barlow or Stuart Talley of Kershaw, Cook & Talley at (888) 997-5170. An attorney will focus on your case, so you can focus on yourself.

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