Do I Need a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
It’s a question that lawyers who represent car accident victims get asked all the time; “Do I need an attorney after my car crash?”
In very general terms, the issue of needing a lawyer after you’ve been in an accident will depend on what happened, if injuries were suffered, and if so, who suffered those injuries. If no one was hurt in the event, the answer is probably no.
However, if you were hurt or injured in the car crash, especially if it was a permanent injury or significant time was lost from school, work or household duties, you should contact a lawyer to represent you in a claim.
After you are involved in a car accident, there are three types of common damages for which you can seek compensation. You may or may not need a lawyer, depending on the severity of the damages related to your particular case.
Property Damage Cases
Generally, if you did not suffer any personal injuries, you should be able to settle your case through your insurance provider. The opposing insurance adjuster should give you approximately the same amount of compensation that could be attained by an attorney.
In property damage cases, you are entitled to money to replace or repair your vehicle, and the use of a rental car until your vehicle is replaced or repaired. No legal skill is required to obtain repair estimates for the damage sustained to your vehicle, or when determining a fair market value for your car.
When it comes to repairs, you just need to get a quote from a professional repair shop and compare the amounts to what the adjuster is offering. If your vehicle was totaled in the accident, research the fair market value of your car. You can consult reputable reference sources like the NADA Used Car Guide, Edmunds, or the Kelly Blue Book.
Minor Injury Cases
A more detailed analysis of your case is required if personal injuries are involved. Any minor injuries from which you are fully recovered within a few days will most likely not require any attorney intervention. It is considered a minor injury when you face less than $1,000 in medical bills.
To get a fair settlement for your minor injury claim, you will need to research and negotiate with the insurance adjuster. You can gather more information online or in bookstores; there are several relevant resources you can use to obtain the necessary information.
In minor injury cases, as with property damage type cases, the use of an attorney is typically not justified. In these kinds of cases, the lawyer’s fee normally results in a lower net settlement as the value of the claim is low and cannot be substantially increased.
Major Injury Cases
Any case involving more than property damage or a minor injury will likely benefit from the help of a lawyer. The majority of people don’t have the legal knowledge, experience or necessary negotiation skills to obtain a settlement that’s fair and of the correct value when it comes to major injury cases. Therefore, when in negotiations with an insurance adjuster, you would be at a disadvantage.
A lot of adjusters state that hiring a lawyer will delay payment on your claim or reduce your net settlement, but you should not be misled by this, as statistics released by the insurance industry itself do not support these claims.
A study conducted by the Insurance Resource Council found that people who hired an attorney received around four times more money in a settlement than individuals who settled on their own. Therefore, if you are looking to obtain a fair settlement for any major injury case, the use of an experienced personal injury attorney is required.