Ultimately, the decision to hire an attorney – or not – is yours alone. However, since virtually all personal injury attorneys offer free advice, it makes sense to consider all of your options before making a decision.
Today’s improved car design and safety features make it easier for drivers and passengers to walk away from a car accident unscathed. Even so, if you’re involved in a car accident, even a seemingly minor collision can result in serious injuries and a long, expensive road to recovery.
If you were injured in an accident that was not your fault, pursuing a responsible party legal claim can help you obtain compensation for your damage. A settlement can cover your medical treatment and make up for any loss of income you may have incurred if you were unable to work due to your injuries. Since this legal process can be challenging, having a car accident attorney by your side can be invaluable – but do you always need a lawyer to assist you?
In many cases, seeking help from an experienced personal injury attorney can be of significant benefit. However, in other cases, you may not need to hire a lawyer to get the results you want. Here are the top questions to investigate to determine if you should seek the help of a car accident attorney.
How severe were your injuries?
Whenever you are involved in a motor vehicle collision, it is important to see a doctor immediately – even if you do not think you are seriously injured. After a crash, victims may go into shock and may not realize they are injured. Conditions such as whiplash and other soft tissue or internal injuries may not be immediately apparent to you. A full assessment by a qualified doctor is the only way to make sure you are getting the treatment you need.
Person with bandage on palm; Image by Brian Patrick Tagalog, via Unsplash.com.
A full medical exam will help you determine how badly you were injured. If an emergency room or ambulance could fix you and send you home to recover, you may not need a lawyer to bring a legal claim against the culpable party. However, if you need more extensive treatment or need further treatment, it may be too early to make that decision.
What other types of damage have you suffered?
The severity of your injuries is just one of the factors to consider when deciding to hire a car accident attorney.
For example, did you experience significant emotional trauma as a result of your accident? Or maybe you lost your job because your injuries prevented you from working. Some accidental injury victims lose the ability to do their jobs and can no longer make a living.
If your vehicle has only sustained minor damage, you should be able to get the insurance company to cover the full cost of the repair. However, if your car takes more serious damage, you may have trouble getting the insurer to compensate you fairly. This is especially true if you are driving a newer model vehicle or a vehicle of a higher value. When the time comes to trade in or sell your car, a potential buyer can pull up a vehicle history report and determine that it has been involved in an accident. This can lead to direct financial loss for you.
If none of these factors apply to you, you may not need to hire a lawyer to handle your case.
How challenging will it be to find a fair solution?
Even if you have suffered serious economic and non-economic damage, you may be able to successfully negotiate your own settlement if the insurance company is willing to work with you. If the accident was clearly the other party’s fault, some insurers will move forward to quickly settle the damage. This might make sense for you too, as you will have a check in hand ASAP.
The caveat here is knowing if the settlement they are offering is fair. If your damage is limited to vehicle damage and the medical treatment and lost wage costs you’ve already incurred, this can be a straightforward calculation. However, if you need ongoing medical treatment or may have suffered long-lasting or permanent injuries, it may be more difficult to determine the worth of your damage.
Note that the insurance company’s initial settlement offer is likely to be undervalued (sometimes referred to as a “lowball” settlement offer). Don’t be afraid to negotiate for a better deal.
If the insurance company does not negotiate with you or agree to a settlement that you think is fair, you can benefit from having an experienced negotiator work on your behalf. If the insurance company is not negotiating at all, you may need to file a lawsuit and take your claim to court. If so, you should seriously consider hiring a lawyer to deal with this complex legal process.
Talk to a car accident attorney before making your decision
Ultimately, the decision to hire an attorney – or not – is yours alone. However, since virtually all personal injury attorneys offer free advice, it makes sense to consider all of your options before making a decision. Consulting an attorney will lose just a little bit of time and potentially valuable information.
An experienced attorney can assess the feasibility of your case and give you an estimate of your potential claim value. If it doesn’t make legal sense to take your case, the lawyer will let you know.
Ask questions and get the information you need to make an informed decision about your case and what it could mean for your future.