When to Call a Lawyer After an Accident: Q & A with Philadelphia attorney Dean Weitzman

Q. Why do people need to know when to call an attorney after a car accident?

A. I realized that people didn’t know when to call a lawyer after I spoke with a client who had heard my Court Radio program and liked it, but hesitated to call me. When I asked him why he waited two months to call me, he said that at first he believed that the insurance company was going to take care of him, but he later realized that the insurance company was just stringing him along.

Q. Is it risky to call a lawyer after an accident? Will I end up with a bill for legal services that I can’t afford to pay?

A. There is no risk in calling a personal injury attorney because we provide legal services on a contingency-fee basis. This means that you won’t owe your attorney anything unless we are able to obtain compensation for the damage to your vehicle, your medical expenses, your lost income, and other costs associated with your accident. We will provide a free initial consultation at the outset in order to learn about your case and help you decide about your next steps.

Q. Why do insurance companies make it difficult for policy holders to obtain compensation?

A. That’s easy. Insurance companies are not in the business of helping people. Rather, they are in the business of making money. They accomplish the goal of making a great profit by limiting how much they pay out in claims, taking advantage of the people who believed they would be taken care of after an accident.

Q. How do insurance companies take advantage of people in order to make money?

A. Insurance companies use many tactics to avoid paying claims. Some routinely deny an initial claim, hoping that the claimant will get discouraged and go away. They attempt to find problems with the claimant’s coverage or insist that the claimant lied on his or her application. They delay paying, making money on the money that they should have paid out to the insured. These are just a few of the strategies used by insurance companies to bolster the bottom line.

Q. I don’t know if my post-accident pain warrants calling a lawyer.

A. First of all, sometimes it’s hard to know whether you were injured or more importantly if those pains will worsen or become permanent. Often, pain doesn’t appear until days or even weeks after the accident – pain that is related to an injury you weren’t even sure you had. Second, there is no risk to find out about your legal rights after an accident. Third, a lawyer can refer you to a medical specialist for an evaluation, something that you will not have to pay for, because Pennsylvania is a no-fault accident state. This means at a minimum, you will have $5,000 of medical expense benefits, so you might as well be evaluated.

Q. Should I wait a few days to see if I am injured, or should I call a lawyer right away?

A. The first things to do after an accident are to file a police report and seek emergency medical care if you or another person involved – passengers, the other driver or passersby – were injured. Then call a lawyer. Personal injury lawyers such as those at MyPhillyLawyer will evaluate your situation at no charge and make recommendations about your next steps.

If we think you don’t have a case, we will tell you. However, if we think you do have a case, we can take on the communication between you and the insurance company from the beginning. Insurance companies handle cases like yours every day and have many tricks up their sleeves. You have probably never had to deal with this type of situation before and are unfamiliar with the process. Having a lawyer levels the playing field and improves your chances of obtaining the compensation you need and deserve.

Q. If I talk with a lawyer, what kinds of questions will he or she ask?

A. When you call an attorney to ask about your rights and options, it’s important to have answers to questions like these:

  • What are your injuries?
  • What were the circumstances of your accident?
  • Have you been able to return to work? How long were you off work?
  • Did you get workers compensation because the accident was job-related?
  • Is the insurance company fighting you? Are they refusing to pay some or all of your medical bills?
  • Are your medical bills more than you can obtain from the insurance company?

After hearing answers to these and other questions, a personal injury attorney can usually determine whether you have a case pretty quickly. It costs you nothing to find out, so why not call?