When to Call a PI Lawyer After a Car Accident
If you’ve had a major car accident, there are probably a lot of things on your mind.
First, of course, if anyone was injured, getting medical treatment is the number one priority. But then there are insurance claims, a possible rental car if your car is not able to drive, and time off work to deal with it all. Even after you receive immediate medical care, there may be more doctors’ visits. Or maybe you’ve damaged your teeth or jaw and need to visit a dentist.
The truth is, there are probably many more things that need to happen after an accident than you ever thought of. So, it may be some time before you even think about contacting a lawyer. That’s entirely understandable. But there are a few things you need to know about when you should talk to a lawyer about any motor vehicle accident.
Statute of Limitations in Alberta
Most kinds of legal proceeding have what is known as a “statute of limitation.” This just means that there is a time limit on when you can bring a case.
Since we practice in Alberta, we are subject to local statutes, and in the case of motor vehicle accident claims, that is usually two years from when the accident happened.
Which means that while you do have some time to take care of the immediate problems associated with the accident, you should probably start thinking about whether you want to take legal action as soon as possible. The legal system can move a little slower than we’d like, and as a professional car accident lawyer, we want to make sure that all of our clients meet these time limits.
Understanding Alberta’s Car Accident Claim System
Of course, every driver in Alberta is legally required to maintain car insurance if they are going to drive, and in the case of a minor fender bender, that’s usually all that’s needed to take care of things.
But sometimes, in the case of a major car accident, there’s a lot more at stake.
When someone has been killed, seriously injured, or suffered significant loss of property, the offer from your insurance company might not be enough to cover the loss. In that case, your only option might be to go to court to pursue additional damages.
Alberta has a fault-based system when it comes to vehicle accidents. Which means that when there is an accident, someone will be considered at fault. In other words, they are liable for the losses that resulted from the accident.
Sometimes, even in Alberta, there is a chance that the driver who caused the accident is not insured. This is illegal, and should not happen, but when it does, there is another option known as the MVAC program. This is a fund set up by the Alberta government to compensate drivers in this situation. Even if this is the case for you, having a lawyer on your side can still help to ensure you get the compensation you deserve, and that your costs and losses are properly covered.
In some cases, people who have been in a car accident don’t feel their injuries immediately.
Even if you felt completely fine immediately after the accident, injuries can make themselves known hours, days or even weeks after the event. These are known as latent injuries, which is what medical professionals call any injury that takes some time to become apparent.
Latent injuries might include things like headaches, concussion, or brain injuries, back, neck or shoulder pain or abdominal pain. Many of these are soft tissue injuries, but they could be related to other things. In some cases, stress and PTSD are also considered latent injuries from car accidents.
The important thing is not to ignore any new injuries or symptoms. Even if their onset is some time after the accident, be sure to speak to your doctor, and mention that you were in a car accident. If there is no other cause for your pain, it may very well be related to the crash.
Severe Injuries and Damage
In cases where there have been very severe injuries or significant damage to property that exceeds the at fault party’s insurance coverage, it’s very important to speak to a car accident lawyer. They will be able to advise you what your options are, and how to pursue them.
The costs associated with major car accidents can quickly spiral out of control, and there may be other options to get the settlement you deserve. But this, again, is why it is so important to speak to a lawyer as soon as you can.
Claim Denials or Insufficient Offers
Even when your claim should be covered by your insurance or an at fault party’s third-party coverage, there’s always a chance that the insurance companies either deny your claim or offer you a settlement that is not sufficient.
In Alberta, it’s not up to the RCMP or police to determine who is at fault in a motor vehicle accident. At least, not as far as insurance claims are concerned. This is left up to the insurance companies that are involved. Of course, it is in their best interests to minimize their own costs, so sometimes, they will deny claims or offer much less than they should as compensation.
In cases like this, it’s always important to have a lawyer on your side. A car accident lawyer can examine the accident reports and evidence, and press insurance companies to provide proper compensation for injuries and losses.
It’s very hard to take on a major insurance company on your own. But when you have a lawyer on your side, it’s much more likely you will get what you deserve.
Whose Doctor Should You See?
Sometimes, your insurance company will request that you see their doctor. This helps to ensure that their interests are protected. But their interests and yours probably don’t align.
You usually can’t refuse this request, but you can ask your lawyer to advise you before and after you see their doctor. It’s also important to note that seeing your insurance company’s doctor does not mean you can’t see your own doctors or specialists.
Sooner, Rather Than Later
Hopefully, you will have a better understanding of how car accident claims work in Alberta after reading this. But, as far as the original question goes, the answer is almost always sooner, rather than later.
Even if there appears to be only minor damage to your car and you feel fine, latent injuries and other delayed problems can still arise later. Those may result in additional costs that won’t automatically be covered by any insurance or other claims you are making. So, it’s important to speak to someone who can make sure you are informed and getting what you deserve.
Of course, your health and the health of others is priority number one. Next, you should call the police, and then your insurance company, to report the accident and make them aware that there will be a claim. But once those things are done, and everyone is safe and attended to, it’s important to make sure you will have all your costs covered.
A car accident lawyer can advise you about every aspect of your claim, and all your options. Unlike insurance companies, they’re not protecting their own bottom line, and are only working in your best interests. So, if there’s any doubt at all that you will be properly compensated, call a lawyer as soon as you can.