How Do I Know Whether I Need an Attorney After My Accident?
The experience of being in an accident is a terrifying one. The aftermath as well can be a new, overwhelming, stressful ordeal as you stumble through the slew of insurance adjusters, doctors, and lawyers. A silver lining in this otherwise bleak picture however, is that not every accident scenario requires the assistance of an attorney. How can you discern these types of scenarios and save yourself the often hefty costs of retaining legal counsel?
Is Liability Being Contended?
An important indicator of whether an attorney needs to be involved is the nature of the accident itself. Cases where liability is largely conceded tend to be less complex. For example, if you were involved in a car collision that was clearly not your fault and the insurance of the other driver will compensate your damages, then involving a lawyer may not be necessary. In this situation, there are few, if any, contentious issues. Retaining an attorney in this scenario will likely only work to lower your recovery amount, as you would have to pay 20-40% of your recovery amount to the attorney.
Is The Compensation Offer Fair?
Another important issue in the aftermath of an accident is reaching a settlement offer with the insurance adjustor. Don’t be afraid to use common sense and instinct to discern whether the offer is fair. You will often be able to do this without the help of an attorney. Any offer should reflect the amount of property damage and medical bills you’ve incurred. Be wary of adjusters who consistently attempt to low ball you.
How Severe Was The Accident?
Another factor that may dictate an attorney should get involved is the severity of the accident. More serious accidents can get complicated very quickly from an insurance point of the view, especially if you or the other driver have multiple insurance policies. An attorney may be useful in these types of cases because he or she will have the resources to identify and sift through the many sub-issues presented by the multiple policies. An attorney would also be equipped to handle situations where a policy that could compensate you is subsequently discovered but was not initially disclosed.
When In Doubt, Consult an Attorney
In general, a good rule of thumb is that if your accident is minor, does not involve a slew of insurance policies, and does not present liability issues, the assistance of an attorney may not be necessary. However, we realize that each situation is unique, and that serious issues may arise even in the aftermath of relatively simple, minor accidents. For example, medical injuries that at first seem manageable and minor can develop into much more serious conditions. Even if you chose not to hire an attorney right away, be in tune with your needs and the ways in which the accident has and may continue to affect you, in the event you may need the help of legal counsel later on.