Road accident, when to call a lawyer?
Following a road accident causing only material damage, you must establish an amicable report or make an official statement to your insurer, in this case the use of a lawyer seems useless.
On the other hand, in the case of bodily injury, you must take steps quickly, and the help of a lawyer can prove useful to constitute your file or to know if you must accept the offer of compensation made.
3 possible procedures following bodily injury
Following a traffic accident resulting in injury, all victims have the right to be compensated for all of their damages without having to file a complaint. For this, there are 3 procedures:
- an amicable settlement with the insurer,
- a “civil party” constitution,
- or filing of a complaint resulting in criminal proceedings.
In the last two cases, recourse to a lawyer can be very useful for advice or representation before the courts.
Contact your insurance within a maximum of 5 working days
The procedure starts with the alert to the insurance. A minimum period exists in your contract, it cannot be less than 5 working days. At the same time, the police draw up a report to determine the causes of the accident and possible responsibilities.
At least specify the place, date and time, and complete later according to the elements of which you become aware, in particular the doctor’s report.
Out-of-court compensation or court proceedings?
Within 8 months following the accident, your insurance or the insurer of the opposing party can offer you a provisional compensation offer. It is an amicable offer which makes it possible to speed up the procedure and not to appeal to the judicial system. This provisional compensation proposal is a first offer before the final offer and can thus be the subject of negotiation and a call for additional experts.
You are then free to accept the final offer and finalize the compensation procedure or to refuse it and initiate proceedings before the court as a civil party.
Why file a complaint?
You can file a complaint if you think the other driver has committed an offence: in this case you file a complaint for homicide or involuntary injury. You can even go further if you believe the other party has engaged in willful conduct dangerous to others by filing a complaint for “deliberate endangering the life of others”.
You must file your complaint with the gendarmerie or the police station that established the report or directly by letter with the Public Prosecutor.
If your complaint is accepted, a criminal procedure is triggered. In this case, you will have two procedures: criminal and civil party judged in general jointly or in parallel by the criminal court.
A traffic and personal injury lawyer can assist you out of court or in court
If you choose an amicable procedure with the opposing insurer or your insurer (which may be the same for both parties), a lawyer is not necessary to manage the procedure, but if you need advice or help to build the file, do not hesitate to call on a lawyer! He will be able to guide you on a subject that is sometimes difficult for you to manage, both emotionally and legally. Having a legal professional on your side is better than accepting questionable terms or compensation too quickly.
As soon as a procedure is initiated: civil or criminal, it is strongly recommended to enlist the services of a lawyer, because he can obtain the documents of the file more easily, he masters the procedure perfectly and can help you to estimate the “correctness” of the proposals made in the face of the insurer.
Before choosing a lawyer, check your insurance contract, which may include financing. If you choose your insurer’s lawyer, the direct lawyer-client relationship will be between this lawyer and your insurer. You are free to choose another lawyer and to have all or part of his costs financed by your insurer.
Lawyers sometimes practice mainly in compensation for bodily injury or devote their activity mainly to the defense of victims of road accidents, medical, sports or work accidents, or for disputes with insurers. A good knowledge of insurance is an undeniable advantage to take into account when choosing your lawyer.
For any additional questions, you can: