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How bad does a car accident have to be before I hire a lawyer?

Raleigh, NC |

I was in a car accident - not injured, but my car was pretty badly damaged. So far both insurance companies seem to be working fine together. At what point should I hire an attorney? Should I have hired one regardless?

Attorney Answers 3


No injuries, no attorney usually. If you get your car taken care of, you should not need an attorney.

The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of Alabama. Responses are based solely on Alabama law unless stated otherwise.

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If you were not injured, you should not need an attorney. The liability insurance carrier for the at fault driver should pay for the repairs to your vehicle, pay for a rental while its in the shop, and you can get your vehicle back and move on with life. If the repairs were significant, you may be entitled to recover the dimunition of value of your vehicle. If the cost of repairs exceed 75% of the value of the vehicle, it will be totalled, and you will be entitled to recover the "actual cash value" of the vehicle. Check out our blog at for some other property damage information. Good luck.

William Owens
Owens & Miller, PLLC
4030 Wake Forest Road, Suite 300
Raleigh, NC 27609
Phone no: (919) 719-2750
Fax no: (919) 516-0063

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I just copied some property damage for you from my site: One of the main problems people face is that the insurance company only has to make the repairs with after market parts. This can include used parts or parts not from the dealership. The theory is that the parts that were on your car were used anyway, so that is all they need to replace. A second problem is determining the value of your car. The insurance company is only required to pay the Fair Market Value for your car. This doesn't mean replacement cost. So, if you drive an old junker that still runs great, you may not get much money for your car. Look at Kelly Blue Book and other online sources to determine value.

One of the more recent claims that adjusters are making is claiming that you only have 30 days to file a claim for property damage or diminished value. You must promptly call the insurance company about your claim. The NC Administrative Code states that "30 days shall be considered promptly asserted". So, this does imply that beyond 30 days isn't prompt. Just make sure that you file these claims within a month to avoid a hassle. Remember that if there is substantial damage to your vehicle to claim diminished value. When you go to buy a used car, don't you always ask "has this car been wrecked"? This will decrease the car's value. Usually, if you fight and demand diminished value, the insurance company will pay an additional 10% of the cost of the repairs for such reduced value.

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