Although many automobile accidents are minor it is important to take steps to protect your interests. Also the law also requires certain steps be taken. I recommend the following:
As a general rule, I do not require clients to pay any attorney's fees on their personal injury claims unless their claim is settled. If no money is recovered I will not charge any attorney's fees. This is called a "contingency fee agreement". This fee agreement is placed in writing and provides a guarantee that clients will not have to pay attorney's fees until or unless a recovery is made.
If no money is recovered, I do not charge the client any fees.
No. Every day I provide consultations free of charge for all types of claims which have caused serious injury. I will tell you if I believe that you have a valid claim and if so what needs to be done to pursue it. Your knowledge is the key to an informed decision and your success in obtaining compensation.
Automobile accident claims must be brought within three years of the date of the accident for adults and three (3) years from the date a minor reaches eighteen (18) years of age for minors, i.e., someone less than 18 at the time of the accident. However shorter statute of limitations periods could apply to requirements to give notice, sometimes as short as 180 days. Therefore you should always consult with a lawyer about this issue.
Yes. Without representation by a knowledgeable and competent attorney, an insurance company will likely take advantage of your lack of knowledge. Indeed, according to their own studies, people represented by legal counsel end up with significantly more money from their claims than people without legal counsel, even after paying their lawyers.
In short, insurance companies are corporations designed to make profits and won't make a reasonable offer to resolve the claim until they are sure they will otherwise pay out large amounts to defend the claim in the litigation process. That's why they don't make fair settlement offers unless the injured person has a lawyer. These companies have numerous experts working for them, including investigators, adjustors, engineers and attorneys. It is their job to do everything they can to fight each claim – even valid ones.
As a general rule: No. Although sometimes you have an obligation under an insurance policy covering you to give a statement or that company can deny coverage for the incident because of your failure to cooperate. Never give a statement to the insurance company for the party or parties at fault for causing the accident without discussing the situation with legal counsel.
If a person is caused to fall because of the improper design or maintenance of a building, sidewalk or other common area they may have a claim against the designer, builder or the person charged with maintaining the area. If the owner or management of a commercial building does not properly salt its sidewalks or the building has a design flaw that results in accumulation of ice where people normally walk they can be held responsible for this action.