When to Get an Attorney for a Car Accident

Categories: Car Accidents

When to Get an Attorney for a Car Accident

While there is no legal requirement that you obtain an attorney after a car accident, there are several situations in which we strongly encourage all accident victims to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. The truth is that some minor fender benders may not require the assistance of an attorney, especially if their insurance agrees to pay and there is no dispute. However, many car accident victims often benefit from a skilled lawyer’s assistance. At Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, we are here to help.

When to Get an Attorney for a Car Accident: 4 Scenarios

You might ask yourself, Is it worth getting an attorney for a car accident? Below, we discuss four specific situations in which we recommend hiring an attorney following a car wreck.

1. Serious Injuries

While some car accidents merely result in a scuffed bumper, minor damage, and no injuries, many others result in serious injuries. Typical car accident injuries include whiplash and neck injuries, spinal cord trauma, fractures, and burns. It is always best to seek medical attention immediately following a crash. The shock and adrenaline of the collision can often mask just how injured you are. Whether you seek ER treatment or just a visit to your primary physician, you may have serious injuries that will require extensive medical treatment. Treatment can be time-consuming and expensive, but you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, time missed from work, and medical expenses.

Simply advising the insurance company of your injuries and expecting them to cut a check is unrealistic. They will often deny your injuries or significantly downplay their severity. It is best to work with an experienced attorney to gather the necessary evidence to prove you are entitled to damages for your severe injuries.

2. Insurance Denies or Downplays Your Injury and Damages

Insurance companies are quick to deny claims or significantly downplay their worth. Shortly after your accident, you may receive a lowball offer from the insurance company. They want you to accept this offer to shield them from further liability. The first offer rarely represents the actual value of your claim.

Any settlement might sound great for injured accident victims who have missed time from work and have mounting medical bills. Still, these early offers usually do not take into consideration future medical costs, anticipated physical limitations, pain and suffering, and other types of damages.

Whether you want to pursue a claim or civil lawsuit or just want to accept a quick settlement and move on, we recommend consulting with a car accident attorney first.

3. Fault and Liability is Contested

In some cases, the fault is apparent. For instance, a driver ran a red light and t-boned you. With the help of eyewitnesses, video surveillance, or even an admission, everyone may agree that the other driver is at fault.

However, liability is often contested between the parties. Even in situations that may initially seem clear, such as a rear-end collision, fault and liability become contested if, say, the other driver’s brakes fail, causing them to rear-end you. In this scenario, the driver responsible for rear-ending you may try to deny fault and blame it entirely on the malfunctioning brakes. However, the brake or car manufacturer may try to dispel some of that liability. Situations involving partial fault can quickly become hotly contested and complicated, delaying your recovery of badly needed compensation.

Contacting a car accident lawyer to protect your right to recovery is imperative. A skilled attorney will investigate the accident to determine fault and fight for your right to total compensation.

4. Complex Liability

Many car accidents involve two vehicles, and disagreement over liability rests between those parties. However, car accident claims may sometimes involve several parties, all of which may have some portion of liability.

Examples of accidents that may involve fault by one or more parties include:

  • Accidents involving commercial vehicles and employer negligence;
  • Government-owned and operated vehicles;
  • Accidents caused by poor road conditions (e.g., uneven payment, deep potholes);
  • Claims involving defective or malfunctioning vehicle parts;
  • Drunk driving accidents where the driver is overserved at a bar, restaurant, or other establishment; and
  • Tractor-trailer accidents involving warehouses that negligently load the cargo (e.g., fail to distribute the weight evenly).

In these cases, the driver may be at fault in addition to other parties. It is common for liability to fall on more than one negligent party. Each party typically has its own insurance company, and the legal teams quickly convolute the case. It can become overwhelming and complex to navigate without a lawyer.

Additional Reasons for Hiring a Lawyer After a Car Accident

In addition to the four prominent reasons discussed above, a handful of other important concerns warrant seeking legal help.


Sometimes, it might be immediately apparent that you suffered serious injuries, but often, it is not quite as clear. If you feel unsure of how severe and permanent your injuries might be, it’s a good idea to call an attorney to discuss your options. Most car accident injury attorneys offer a free consultation, so there is no cost to you to have your case assessed.

Worried About Money & Inability to Work

All car accidents are stressful and can quickly create financial worry. Injuries often prevent you from working, undoubtedly filling you with worry. An attorney will help you not only get a substantial settlement or award but can also help you secure any necessary treatment in the interim.

Possible Fault

You may be seriously injured but also partially at fault for the crash. If you suspect you may be partially at fault or the insurance company is trying to blame you, it is best to get an attorney. Your case becomes much more complicated if the insurance company is improperly blaming you or you are actually at fault for the accident. You need an advocate to defend any potential liability while fighting for compensation for your injuries.


The overwhelming majority of car accident claims are settled outside of court. In fact, only a tiny percentage make it to trial. However, even reaching a fair settlement can take extensive discovery and negotiation. Insurance adjusters are trained to negotiate the lowest settlement possible, so it can be difficult to negotiate successfully on your own. An experienced attorney knows how to communicate with the adjuster to get you a fair settlement.

Should your case not settle through early negotiations, you may consider filing a civil lawsuit. This requires following court rules and procedures and having a well-rounded knowledge of the law, including understanding the deadlines for filing your case. In addition, the discovery process can be extensive, and pre-trial litigation can be lengthy. Navigating a civil lawsuit is more challenging than it might sound.

If you are considering filing a civil case, now is the time to contact an attorney.

Proving Your Case

As the injured plaintiff, you must prove the defendant was negligent and caused your injuries.

An attorney can assist you in gathering the necessary evidence to prove your case, including:

  • Medical records and bills,
  • Accident report,
  • Photos and videos of the accident scene,
  • Video surveillance,
  • Eyewitness statements,
  • Expert reports and testimony, and
  • Accident recreation technology.

Our team has the experience, knowledge, and resources to obtain the necessary evidence.

Why Hire Us

Personal injury attorneys can be a dime a dozen. A quick internet search of Washington car accident attorneys will generate an overwhelming response. It can be hard to know who to turn to. At Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, our number one priority is our clients. Here are just a few of the benefits we bring to the table:

  • Legal experience. At Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, we have over five decades of legal experience helping clients receive the compensation they deserve.
  • Knowledge and Skills. We have recovered over $100 million in settlements and verdicts for our clients. We have the legal expertise to successfully represent you in court and negotiate at the settlement table.
  • Objectivity. Your emotions can unintentionally cloud your judgment moments and months after a car wreck. As your attorney, we always provide an objective third-party assessment of your case. We’ll let you know what we believe your case may be worth and how to obtain the maximum recovery on your behalf.

Our seasoned attorneys and staff are here for you every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation. Remember, we don’t get paid until you do.

Author Photo

Matt Conner

Matt Conner, a distinguished attorney at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, brings a unique blend of financial and legal expertise to his practice. Graduating with a double major in mathematics and economics from Willamette University, he initially honed his analytical skills as an economist for the State of Oregon. Specializing in personal injury law, Matt is adept at handling a wide array of cases, including multiparty litigation against large entities, and claims involving gun violence, sexual and police misconduct, car accidents, traumatic brain injuries, and wrongful death. Admitted to the Washington State Bar in 2014, he is known for his tenacious advocacy and deep compassion for clients facing life-altering challenges. His approach is not just about legal representation; it’s about restoring lives.