AFTER A CAR ACCIDENT, CONFUSED IS JUST ONE OF THE THINGS YOU MIGHT BE FEELING. AMONG THE MANY QUESTIONS YOU HAVE, ONE MIGHT BE, “DO I REALLY NEED A LAWYER?”
Well, the answer is, maybe not. Here are some reasons you may not need or want a lawyer to handle your car accident case.
1. YOU WERE NOT HURT AND NEITHER WAS YOUR CAR
If you feel confident that you had no injuries whatsoever and your vehicle was not damaged either, you may not need a lawyer.
Many lawyers will be honest enough to tell you that it is not worth it to hire them if the damages are not significant enough to justify their costs. In this case, you might be better off negotiating with the insurance company on your own.
There is always that one lawyer, though, who will take your case. So if several lawyers have told you it is not worth it, you should possibly be cautious about hiring the one lawyer who does not.
It is really important to know, though, that injuries may not be present immediately after an accident. It could take days or weeks for injuries to fully present themselves.
The same is true of your vehicle. It might take some time for a part of your car damaged in an accident to show signs of a problem, such as damage to the underside or inner parts of your vehicle.
And once you have settled with the insurance company, there is typically no going back for more.
So if you might even possibly be hurt or feel there is a chance your vehicle is damaged, it is best to at least consult with a lawyer before speaking to any insurance claims adjusters.
Many lawyers will consult with you at no cost and with no obligation.
2. YOU ARE FINANCIALLY ABLE TO COVER THE COSTS OF RENTALS, MEDICAL BILLS, SICK DAYS, ETC.
Your health insurance policy may delay paying for treatment if they believe it to be the result of an accident caused by someone else.
Or you may have a high deductible requiring you to pay a lot of money out-of-pocket before your insurance begins to cover your treatment.
Or perhaps you have to time off of work to receive treatment and you do not have any paid time off that you can use causing your paycheck to be docked.
If you are in a financial position to be able to front those costs until you reach a settlement agreement, you may not need a lawyer.
Attorneys typically work out arrangements with medical providers to defer payment of treatment until the case is settled. In other words, if your doctor knows an attorney is handling your case, he or she may wait for your case to be resolved before demanding payment.
3. YOU HAVE A DEEP UNDERSTANDING OF INSURANCE AND LEGAL MATTERS
If you have the background or experience to understand all of the legal-ese and the language of insurance policies, you may not need a lawyer to handle your case.
Insurance is complex, and the insurance companies will not be overly willing to guide you through the process. In fact, they make take advantage of the fact that you do not have legal guidance. For example, it is common for insurance adjusters to negotiate with you aggressively early on hoping for a quick settlement or severely downplay your injuries hoping to convince you to take what they are offering.
However, if you are very familiar with this process and feel comfortable negotiating with forceful insurance adjusters, you may be able to negotiate a fair settlement yourself.
4. YOU FEEL GUILTY FILING A CLAIM:
You may feel like the accident was not severe enough to justify going after the other person.
You may want to keep it simple and just negotiate with the insurance company instead of getting a lawyer involved.
You may be the type of person who does not want to ruffle any feathers.
These are all common and valid reasons not to hire a lawyer after a car accident.
Just keep in mind that injuries and damage are not always immediately obvious. The longer you wait to take action, the more the insurance company will negotiate against you. And once you have settled with the insurance company, there is no going back…even if your injuries get worse.
5. YOU ARE NOT WORRIED ABOUT THE AMOUNT YOU RECOVER:
Of course you are not the type of person hoping to “get rich” off of a car accident case, but perhaps you simply don't want to come out of pocket for an accident that was not your fault. You might even be fine with paying a little just to keep it simple.
In this case, it is possible that the insurance company will offer you just enough to pay for your damages and doctor visits without getting a lawyer involved.
Again, keep in mind, that insurance companies try to settle quickly, and once you have settled it is nearly impossible to “re-open the case,” even if your injuries or damages get worse.
IS THERE ANY REASON TO HIRE A LAWYER?
Yes, a car accident lawyer can be quite valuable. Here's how:
1. They save you time and stress in dealing with insurance companies by taking care of the paperwork and sometimes very heated negotiations.
2. Judges vary from one district to another. Some judges are very conservative and others are more liberal when it comes to these types of cases. A seasoned car accident attorney will be able to use that in negotiating to get the best outcome for you.
3. Car accidents can be tricky – especially if there is some dispute over who caused the accident, if there were multiple people injured, or if reports do not seem accurate. A lawyer will handle all of these complicated matters so you can focus on getting better.
4. Injury lawyers usually work on contingency. In other words, they do not get paid until your case is resolved. That means that you actually do not pay your lawyer upfront or directly.
5. Studies show that lawyers are able to recover on average 3 times more for an accident than if a person settled with the insurance company on their own. Even though lawyers get paid a percentage of your settlement, they often pay for themselves, so to speak, by recovering a higher amount than you would by handling it yourself.
A car accident is stressful, even if you do not feel it was severe. Deciding whether to hire a lawyer, choosing a lawyer, and dealing with insurance companies and medical providers can make it even more stressful.
If you are considering hire a lawyer to handle your case for you, remember that you have a choice and you can often speak to a lawyer without any obligation. If you feel like you want multiple opinions before deciding, you certainly have the right to call around.