In the U.S., about 218 million drivers roam the road. Car accidents are messy, stressful business, but they’re inevitable. The last thing you want is to get involved with the law, but it’s inevitable — you get in a crash, you fill out a police report, you notify your insurance. So when is it appropriate to call in a lawyer to back you up?
You were drinking or under the influence of other substances.
A criminal defense lawyer or attorney who specializes in DUI cases should always be called if you have drugs or alcohol in your system after a car accident. Even if you believe that the substances did not impair your ability to operate a vehicle, law enforcement will likely disagree. DUI, DWI, and DUII charges all put your freedom, reputation, and license to drive in jeopardy.
Someone was injured or killed in the accident.
Whether it was a driver, a passenger, or a pedestrian, any injury or death in a traffic accident is potentially a reason to call a lawyer. For any accident injury or death, local law enforcement will investigate to make sure it was only an accident and no negligence was involved. Often a lawyer isn’t needed unless you’re truly under suspicion of personal negligence, but it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to protecting your freedoms. In this case, you may want a criminal defense lawyer.
You left the scene of the accident.
A big ‘oops’ that everyone should have learned in driving school: You NEVER leave the scene of an accident. A motor vehicle accident, even one that results in injury or death, does not necessarily end in charges or a conviction. A hit-and-run scenario ALWAYS ends in charges brought up against whoever left the scene of the accident. Your best bet to protect yourself is to stay put. If you panic and leave, go back to the scene, tell law enforcement the situation, and call your lawyer.
You think an error in your vehicle caused the accident.
If your vehicle malfunctioned and caused the accident in question, you could seek the help of a lawyer to pinpoint why the vehicle endangered your safety. Is it the fault of the manufacturer? The last mechanic you took it to? Defective vehicle components? If it’s not just old age of the car, you may be able to hold someone accountable for the accident.
Someone else’s negligence may have led to the accident.
Say cargo sliding off a truck in front you caused you to crash, or a work van’s wheel came off the car and caused you to swerve to avoid it. Improper truck maintenance or improperly secured cargo can be a reason you’d seek out a personal injury attorney or auto accident attorney to make a case against the other vehicle’s owning company.
Maybe lack of signage during construction landed you in a deep pothole in the road. This would be an opportunity to call a lawyer as well. Action can be taken against an individual, business, or government if negligence on their part caused your crash. Taking action against them can ensure that your medical and auto repair bills are paid and their negligence is fixed so further accidents don’t occur.
Remember that different circumstances will call for hiring lawyers with different specialties, such as DUI, personal injury, traffic, or criminal defense lawyers. Consult your local law firm about who in the area will take your case if you’re unsure what specialty will apply.