When to Get an Attorney for a Car Accident
February 26, 2022 | Car Accidents
If you recently suffered injuries in a car accident, you might wonder if or when you should hire a car accident lawyer. You can certainly try to handle your claim alone, but it’s unlikely you will get the outcome you want or deserve.
The insurance company might offer a settlement of a few hundred or even thousands of dollars for your injuries and resulting damages after a motor vehicle crash, or they might deny your claim.
The insurer banks on you not hiring a car accident attorney and remaining oblivious to your legal rights. Their attorneys are incredibly skilled, and fighting them on your own without legal representation or experience will likely end poorly for you.
Should You Hire an Attorney for a Minor Car Crash?
In some cases, your financial recovery from a lawsuit is so slight that having a lawyer won’t make much difference.
You may not need an attorney after your car wreck if:
- You didn’t need expensive diagnostic testing
- You have only minor discomfort
- You recovered fully from your injury after a few chiropractic appointments
- You didn’t need treatment from a specialty doctor
Claims like these typically recover the cost of the medical bills and sometimes a couple thousand or so dollars for pain and suffering. An experienced attorney can likely negotiate a higher settlement but not enough to make it worth anyone’s time.
However, even if you only sustain mild injuries or were only in a minor car accident, it won’t hurt to get the professional legal opinion of a well-versed car accident lawyer. Without the proper background and experience, it can be challenging to determine if you have a personal injury claim worth pursuing. Let a legal expert determine this for you. Even small medical necessities after a minor injury can substantially increase the value of a car accident claim, such as needing an epidural or ongoing physical therapy.
When to Hire a Lawyer After a Motor Vehicle Collision
Most motor vehicle collisions are expensive, serious, and time-consuming. It’s common to wonder if you should hire a lawyer after a car accident. It’s always best to check in with an experienced car accident attorney who provides complimentary, no-obligation claim reviews to get their opinion on your case. You won’t pay a dime for your consultation, and you will get to find out if you have a valid car accident claim or not. There’s no risk involved at all.
During your confidential consultation, the lawyer will ask several questions to learn more about your accident and injuries to decide if they are willing to represent you. They need to know if you have a claim worth pursuing before they agree to provide you with their time and services. If you do have a valid claim, they can give you an idea of what they think it’ll be worth.
When You Don’t Need a Motor Vehicle Accident Lawyer
Starting with a no-obligation consultation is usually the best way to handle any car accident claim. Still, you may not need a car accident lawyer if:
You Didn’t Suffer Injuries
Thankfully, some car accidents are so minor that they don’t cause injuries. If you were in such a crash, you may feel shocked, surprised, frustrated, shook up, inconvenienced, or even mad but not have any physical injuries. You might even feel sore for only a few days with no other symptoms.
Accidents occurring at slow speeds can result in little or no physical harm to all involved parties. You may only need to file a property damage claim for the damage your car, bicycle, or other personal belongings suffered.
If you only need to file a property damage claim, you may still need a lawyer to ensure fair treatment by the other party’s insurance carrier. To fix a dented bumper on today’s complicated cars can cost thousands—they contain sensors, cameras, and more that make driving much safer. Calibrating them so they work properly after an accident requires specialized training.
If a car accident lawyer doesn’t feel you need their services, they’ll let you know.
You’re Insurance Savvy
Today, purchasing a car insurance policy is relatively easy. Do a simple online search, give the company your personal and motor vehicle information, get a quote, accept the policy, and make your first premium payment. Everyone should know how to do this, but very few drivers know how to use their insurance coverage. They don’t understand what their policy covers, the claims process, and the various insurance contract provisions mean.
Unfortunately, not many drivers know how different insurance policies like auto and health policies coordinate coverage when a car accident occurs. These issues can become even more perplexing when insurance policies vary from one state to the next due to different state laws.
Suppose you are savvy with auto insurance, not just with buying an auto policy but regarding how your policy applies to your accident.
Even savvy accident victims regularly end up with a settlement that fails to cover their losses. The easiest way to avoid this is to leave it to the car accident attorneys.
You Don’t Care About Compensation for Your Losses
Some drivers are surprisingly calm when it comes to car accidents. They get in a fender bender, get out and calmly speak to the other driver, perhaps exchange contact and insurance information, wave goodbye, and go about their day as if nothing happened.
Sometimes injuries take time to manifest, however, so seek prompt medical care and call a car accident lawyer if you start to suffer from delayed symptoms of whiplash or a traumatic brain injury. Otherwise, you’ll pay the resulting bills on your own.
You Have Plenty of Free Time to Work On Your Claim
Even so, do not want to represent yourself? An attorney’s education, background, and experience allow them to do their job better and more efficiently, especially in accidents with severe or catastrophic injuries.
The main tasks required are:
- Collecting and filing relevant documents correctly and on time
- Following up on small details
- Being assertive and relying on negotiation skills
- Examining insurance policies
- Reconstructing accidents
- Arguing a case in court and following all of its procedures correctly
If you don’t mind performing all these tasks, have at least ten hours of extra time every week for the next year or two, want a new time-intensive project that requires vast knowledge about insurance laws, this is the project for you. If it doesn’t sound so appealing, leave your claim representation to an experienced lawyer.
Should You Hire an Attorney for a Car Accident that Wasn’t Your Fault?
Hiring a car accident lawyer will often maximize compensation in an accident claim.
A lawyer can ensure you receive full and fair compensation by doing several things on your behalf, including:
- Reviewing case law that might help your claim
- Identifying your financial losses such as lost wages and past and future medical bills
- Consulting with medical experts who can examine you or testify on your behalf
- Creating doubt surrounding the other party’s case
Seek representation from a motor vehicle accident attorney if:
You Don’t Yet Know How Severe Your Injury Is
It’s not always apparent right after an accident or even in the few weeks following the extent of the injuries suffered. A few months later, you might find that your pain isn’t resolving or your mobility decreases. Perhaps treatments that were working aren’t anymore. In these cases, you need an attorney who can help you get the medical care you need and hold the other party’s insurance carrier accountable for paying for your injuries—both now and into the future.
You Sustained a Serious Injury
Serious injuries come with serious financial burdens. Insurance companies don’t want to bear these financial burdens that were unfairly placed on you and will fight paying what you fairly for them. Serious injuries don’t necessarily require hospitalization or surgery. They can be injuries such as broken bones, joint injuries, or other harm that causes severe pain or necessitates long-term treatment.
The Insurance Company is Blaming You or Not Taking Your Injuries Seriously
Insurance companies use many tactics to skirt their responsibility for paying on claims. One of their tactics is to blame you one way or another. For example, they might say that you didn’t report your injuries to a doctor soon enough or did something to make them worse.
They might also say you’ve exceeded the maximum amount of treatments they will pay for or that you should have healed from your injuries by a specific date. You need an attorney who won’t allow them to blame you for anything, won’t let them pretend to be your doctor by determining how long your treatment needs to last, and will ensure they pay according to their contracted coverage and the law.
Hiring an attorney can show the insurance company that you take your claim seriously even if they don’t take your injuries or their responsibility to you seriously.
You Aren’t Sure How You Will Pay Your Medical Bills
Car crashes are often synonymous with financial stress. Therefore, you must receive maximum compensation for your damages and injuries. Your attorney will do everything they can to ensure that you do. They might also help you with medical liens. They allow you to get the medical care you need when you need it. In turn, the medical provider gets paid from your settlement or court award once you receive it. Your attorney will ensure that the medical provider gets paid accordingly.
Beware of Settlement Mills
All personal injury law firms aren’t the same. Firms with the most aggressive marketing campaigns are often just settlement mills. They rely primarily on marketing and are only willing to take a minuscule number of their cases to trial. Their clients don’t get what they deserve because of their mill mentality.
Settlement mills often refuse to maximize their clients’ compensation when it comes time to settle personal injury claims. It only makes sense, as the more personal injury claims they can quickly settle, the faster they can fund their expensive marketing campaigns to keep the loop going.
An average trial lawyer is a better choice than a settlement mill law firm, as the insurer will have no choice but to spend money settling or litigating the case. Insurance companies don’t want to give out money. As such, running up legal costs can sometimes help garner their instant attention, resulting in a higher and faster settlement for the injured victim.
Have an Experienced Attorney Review Your Claim
No matter what type of car accident you were involved in, it never hurts to have an experienced attorney review your claim. Many will perform an initial review over the phone, and answer your questions on how to file a car accident claim.
If they don’t think it’s worth obtaining legal help, they will let you know. However, if you do have a claim worth pursuing, they can meet with you in person. Don’t ever walk away from potential compensation by failing to get a legal opinion on your car accident.