Do I Need a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
A common question people ask after being involved in a car accident is: “Do I need a lawyer?”
The quick and easy answer is: “When in doubt, hire an attorney.”
The first consultation is usually free, and an honest personal injury attorney will let you know up front whether you need their services. That said, certainly not every accident warrants hiring an attorney, so here’s a couple of quick checklists to help you determine when you might want a lawyer, and when you might not need one.
When is a lawyer NOT necessary?
In most cases, you probably don’t need to hire a personal injury attorney if any of the following are true:
- It is a simple “fender bender” where fault is clear and undisputed. (In short, the other party is at fault and admits it.)
- The damage to your vehicle is minimal or nonexistent.
- The other party’s insurance is quick to take care of the claim without disputing fault.
- No one is injured, or injuries are minor, requiring minimal medical attention. (SIDE NOTE: We always recommend getting checked by a doctor after an accident because some injuries may not be apparent right away.)
- The other party has sufficient insurance to cover your damage.
- There are no other complications or extenuating circumstances that could delay or prevent timely payment of the claim.
When should you hire a lawyer?
You should consult with a lawyer after a car accident if ANY of the following are true:
- Liability in the accident is shared, unclear or disputed. (If there is any question of who is at fault or by how much amount, the insurance company may try to underpay.)
- There are significant injuries involved, and associated medical bills.
- Your injuries are likely to require further treatment (and more bills).
- You have lost work or wages as a result of the accident.
- You believe the insurance adjuster has significantly underestimated the cost of the damage.
- You are not sure how to prove your claim, or the other party’s liability.
- The other party’s insurance company denies the claim, low-balls the settlement offer, or offers a structured settlement rather than a lump sum. (Structured settlements often amount to less than you’d receive otherwise.)
- There are complex or confusing extenuating circumstances that are delaying determinations. These can work against you if you don’t understand them.
- Resolution of the claim is delayed and you’re facing a possible statute of limitations deadline. Once the statute of limitations for your state is reached, you may not legally be able to file suit.
- You are being blamed and/or sued by the other party.
At Sutton Slover, our practice focuses exclusively on personal injury law. We can quickly help you determine whether you need a lawyer after your car accident, we’ll tell you honestly if you don’t, and we’ll evaluate your case for free. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 404.768.0292.