Do you need a lawyer for your car accident?
It’s the first “legal” question a client asks, and you might be surprised at the answer. The short answer is, it depends. Before we go further, let’s preface everything with this: it’s never a bad idea to call an attorney, and I am always happy to discuss your car accident with you.
Were you at fault in the accident?If so, contact your auto insurance carrier. Your insurance company will defend claims made against you and assign an attorney to represent you if necessary.
Was some else at fault?If so, you may have one or two claims: 1) a property damage claim and/or 2) a personal injury claim.
If you suffered property damage:If you only suffered property damage to your vehicle, and the other driver has accepted fault in the accident, you might not need an attorney. You are entitled to have your vehicle repaired or monetarily replaced with the vehicle's fair market value. If your vehicle is undriveable, you may also be entitled to recover rental car fees (called "loss of use" damages). If the at-fault driver's auto insurance company is willing to provide acceptable repairs or reasonable value for your totaled vehicle there is little reason to retain an attorney. Of course, if the other driver denies fault, or is uninsured, then you will need to contact an attorney or file a claim through your own auto insurance, or both.
If you were injured:If you are injured in a wreck, it's simple: you need an attorney. The many pitfalls of trying to navigate a personal injury claim on your own are too vast to list here. Getting a reasonable settlement can be a struggle, and yet, that is only half of the battle. Next comes dealing with medical care providers and their outstanding bills and liens, and in some cases dealing with your own health and auto insurance carriers who demand a portion of your recovery. So, be sure to call a law firm with knowledgeable and experienced personal injury attorneys to make sure you maximize your recovery after an accident.