Do you need an attorney after a car accident?
I am sometimes approached by my friends and clients with a question whether they really need to hire a personal injury lawyer after a car accident. Although I am tempted to say that you need a lawyer in every circumstance to allow my colleagues to have about third of the settlement, the truth is that not every claim requires an attorney.
If you have a serious injury, you should probably retain an attorney. However, if you are involved in an accident which was not your fault and the other driver has low policy limits, revealed by the adjuster, which do not even cover your entire expenses in relation to the accident, including medical bills and lost wages, then you may be successful in handling the claim without an attorney. You may also have a low-impact collision and a visit to your physician reveals that you do not need physical therapy. You can try to settle such claim without an attorney unless you need assistance negotiating your medical bills.
In most circumstances, you will certainly benefit from having a legal professional representing you. Typically, after the accident, an insurance adjuster for the driver who was at fault causing the accident, will contact you to collect some information in relation to the accident. The questions will be concerning circumstances of the accident, property damage, medical bills, and lost time at work. The insurance adjuster will then present an offer in an attempt to avoid litigation. You may even receive a fair offer. But unless the other side clearly accepted liability, you should be careful providing statements to the adjuster. These statements might be incomplete, taken out of context, or be harmful to your case at a later date. The adjusters may sound nice and sympathetic, but often their ultimate goal is to diminish your damages and avoid or minimize the potential payout. The industry term is that the insurance company will try to “low ball” you and pay you less than you deserve.
In addition, not everyone is able to afford paying premium for health insurance. In cases of soft tissue injuries which usually cause neck and back pain after the accident, the victims are often reluctant to seek medical help from a doctor, chiropractor, or a physical therapist because victims are afraid to incur medical expenses. You may benefit from having an attorney representing you in this case. Our law firm, for example, has established relationships with a number of medical professionals in different fields who can provide treatment on a lien basis. It means that they will wait until settlement before getting paid for their services. This ensures that the victim of an auto accident has a chance to receive treatment without immediate out-of-pocket expenses.
Another scenario where you will benefit from an attorney is if the person who has injured you has multiple sources of insurance coverage. If the person causing accident has multiple insurance policies covering the accident or is an employee of a business potentially liable for the accident, this information is usually not easily discovered. Your own insurance company may also cover all or part of your expenses if the party causing the accident has no insurance or is underinsured.
Whether you decide to retain an attorney or not, you should seriously consider to be thoroughly checked out by a physician following an accident. Injuries that may seem minor at first can develop into serious conditions. Don’t be your own doctor and let the professional tell you that you are okay.