When To Hire a Lawyer After a Car Accident
The moments and days after a car accident can be very confusing. You might be going from doctor to doctor, trying to find out what is wrong, or you might have been admitted into the hospital to deal with life-challenging injuries. This can be a scary time, when you don’t know how long it will take to improve or when you can return to work.
At our firm, we encourage accident victims to contact an attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer can lift a heavy load off your shoulders by handling all communications with insurance companies and negotiating a favorable settlement.
However, people are still resistant to hiring a lawyer, believing it is a wasted expense. In this do-it-yourself culture, many people believe they can read a wikiHow article on how to negotiate a settlement and handle things on their own. And, in fairness, you sometimes might not need a lawyer. Let’s take a closer look at when to get an attorney for a car accident.
You Might NOT Need To Hire A Lawyer If:
You Only Suffered Property Damage: Negotiate on Your Own
Not all car accidents cause bodily injuries to the driver or passengers. If all you suffered was damage to your vehicle, you can probably handle your negotiation on your own. An insurance company is less likely to fight a property-damage claim than if you suffered bodily injuries and needed medical care.
Let’s try to understand why. When your car is damaged, you can take it to a body shop and ask for an estimate of repairs. The insurance company might also tell you which body shop to take it to. As a result, the insurer trusts how much it costs to fix the vehicle. If the body shop says you need $8,000 in repairs, then that is what you need.
In this situation, you can submit necessary insurance forms and get your repairs paid for.
You Should Hire A Lawyer If:
You Suffered Bodily Injuries: Meet with a Lawyer at a Minimum
The analysis changes if you suffered a bodily injury, no matter how slight. Suddenly, the insurance company will take a much harder look at your claim. Why? Well, they might think you are exaggerating your injuries, for one. Also, accident victims can receive compensation for intangible losses like pain and suffering or emotional distress. And it is very hard to measure how much pain someone is feeling, so the insurer might think you are exaggerating that, also.
Does this mean you always need an attorney? No. Your bodily injuries might be very minor—a sprained wrist and a bruise on your knee, for example., Both of these can heal within a month at the most. You might have only spent a few hundred dollars on medical care and not missed any work while you recovered.
An insurer probably won’t play hard ball if your claim is for a very small amount, say a few thousand dollars. You can also bring a claim in small claims court on your own without the need for a lawyer. The small claims system is set up for everyday citizens to go into court and protect their rights if they have a claim of $10,000 or less.
How do you properly evaluate the value of your injuries? Do the following:
- Add up how much all medical care cost. This includes doctor visits, assistive devices like crutches, surgery, blood work or X-rays, rehabilitation, prescriptions, etc. Don’t just add up how much you spent out of pocket but how much it all cost before your insurance kicked in.
- If you missed work, add up how much you missed. If you make $100 a day and missed 10 days, you suffered $1,000 in losses. It doesn’t matter if you used sick time or personal days.
- Add in the damage to your property.
These are your “hard” economic losses. If they total more than $5,000 or so, you should talk to an attorney.
You can also receive compensation for pain and suffering or emotional distress. If you suffered a scar on your face, for example, the embarrassment you feel could be worth a lot of money. Meet with an attorney to review.
Contact Dawson & Albritton Today
It isn’t always clear whether you need a lawyer. However, if you suffered a bodily injury, it is best to meet with an attorney for a free consultation. You can talk to one of our lawyers by contacting us today.