When To Get An Attorney After A Car Accident In Washington D.C.

Understanding the best time to engage a lawyer after being in a car accident in Washington D.C., is critical for your recovery and any future insurance or legal claim.

Trying to navigate this battle on your own can be overwhelming, as you’ll need to deal with your physical injuries, emotional injuries, and legal complexities. Here’s when it’s a good time to get an attorney after a car accident:

You Don’t Understand What No-Fault Insurance Means

Understanding how car accident claims work in Washington D.C. means understanding the no-fault system.

This means that after most traffic accidents, your own personal injury protection (PIP) policy covers your medical expenses and lost income up to the limits of the policy, regardless of who caused the collision.

The aim is to reduce litigation by having immediate financial recovery without requiring either party to prove fault.

However, there are circumstances in D.C. where you may pursue a claim against the at-fault driver/party instead of or in addition to making a PIP claim:

  • Exceeding PIP Limits: If your medical expenses and loss of income due to injuries exceed what is covered by your PIP policy.
  • Serious Injuries: If you suffer significant permanent scarring or disfigurement, impairment to bodily function, or severe impairment preventing you from performing daily activities for 180 days or more.
  • 31–2405. Lawsuit restriction and opportunity for arbitration under optional insurance

A victim who elects to receive personal injury protection benefits may maintain a civil action based on liability of another person only if:

(1) The injury directly results in substantial permanent scarring or disfigurement, substantial and medically demonstrable permanent impairment which has significantly affected the ability of the victim to perform his or her professional activities or usual and customary daily activities, or a medically demonstrable impairment that prevents the victim from performing all or substantially all of the material acts and duties that constitute his or her usual and customary daily activities for more than 180 continuous days; or

(2) The medical and rehabilitation expenses of a victim or work loss of a victim exceeds the amount of personal injury protection benefits available

In these scenarios, stepping outside the no-fault system allows injured parties to possibly obtain compensation not just for out-of-pocket costs but also non-economic damages like pain and suffering which aren’t available through PIP claims.

If you’re a bit confused about how this works, you should speak with a lawyer as soon as possible after the accident.

When it’s Unclear Who Was at Fault

If there’s disagreement over who caused the car accident, seeking legal representation becomes crucial. When multiple parties argue about fault or if differing accounts of the event exist, an attorney can help investigate to determine what really happened using evidence like police reports and witness testimonies.

An experienced lawyer can also address arguments from insurance companies which often try to place blame on you as means of reducing a payout.

You Believe You’re Partially at Fault

In situations where you believe that you may have been partially at fault for the accident, hiring an attorney becomes imperative. D.C operates under contributory negligence for motor vehicle drivers, which is unique compared to many other jurisdictions.

This rule states if you are found even 1% at fault for a collision, it can prevent recovery on your claim entirely. In situations where you don’t think liability is straight forward or you believe you’re at fault, you should reach out to a car accident attorney as soon as possible.

The Insurance Company Refuses to Pay

If you find yourself in a situation where your insurance company declines to pay your claim or offers an insufficient settlement, having a lawyer on hand can make all the difference.

Insurance companies typically do everything they can to pay out as little as possible. A skilled attorney is familiar with these strategies and knows ways around them. An attorney will level the playing field to ensure you don’t get taken advantage of by the insurance company.

Contact A Washington D.C. Car Accident Lawyer

Contact A Washington D.C. Car Accident Lawyer Today

If you’ve been in a car accident in D.C. and need assistance, don’t hesitate to contact a Washington D.C. car accident lawyer from Lightfoot Law today to schedule a free consultation.