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Should I Hire a Lawyer After a Minor Car Accident?

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Should I hire a lawyer for a minor car accident? Maybe you should, and maybe you shouldn’t. In fact, it might not be immediately obvious whether you should. 

Following are descriptions of car accident scenarios in which you discover that you will need a lawyer even though it wasn’t obvious at the time of the crash. 

  • Previously hidden injuries surface: After a minor fender bender, you feel fine and decide not to involve a lawyer. A week later, however, you start experiencing severe back pain. This leads to a diagnosis of a herniated disc, which requires extensive medical treatment. Your injuries require you to miss work for weeks at a time. As medical costs and lost wages mount, it becomes clear that you need a lawyer to navigate the insurance claims process and pursue further compensation. This same principle applies to car accidents, truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents
  • An insurance dispute arises: Initially, the damage to your vehicle seems minor, and you decide not to involve a lawyer. However, when you submit your claim, the insurance company disputes the extent of the damage and asserts prior damage to your vehicle. It turns out you need a car accident lawyer to challenge the insurer’s decision.
  • New evidence of liability arises: At the scene of the accident, you admit to being slightly distracted, leading the police to assign fault to you. Later, surveillance footage from a nearby security camera reveals that the other driver actually ran a stop sign. You then need a lawyer to correct the misassignment of fault and to handle the legal complexities that follow.
  • The garage underestimates your vehicle damage: What appears to be cosmetic damage to your car turns out to be much more significant upon a detailed mechanical inspection. The car requires major repairs, and the cost far exceeds the settlement offered by the insurance company. In this scenario, a lawyer’s involvement becomes crucial to negotiate adequate compensation for the repairs and deal with any deceptive practices by the insurance company. Minor injury lawyers can still help you win compensation for tens of thousands of dollars in vehicle damage compensation if appropriate.
  • You discover that another party was involved in the accident: Initially, you thought the accident was a simple rear-end collision with minor damage. It later emerges that there was a third vehicle that made an illegal maneuver, forcing the other driver to brake abruptly. This revelation adds layers of complexity to the case, involving multiple insurance companies and possible multiple claims of liability and damages.
  • You suffer delayed psychological effects: After a minor car accident, you believe you are physically unharmed, and you dismiss the need for a lawyer. Over the following months, however, you begin to experience severe anxiety and PTSD symptoms whenever you attempt to drive or even ride in a car. These non-economic damages impact your daily life and work, requiring you to claim compensation for psychological counseling and potential loss of income.
  • Complex legal issues emerge concerning a rental car: The accident involved a rental car, and initially, the damage seemed minimal. Unfortunately, the rental company later demands excessive compensation related to the damage, loss of rental income, and administrative fees. You need a lawyer to defend against potentially inflated claims.
  • A third-party property damage issue emerges: The accident occurred in a residential area and initially seemed to involve only your vehicle and the other driver’s vehicle. Weeks later, a homeowner claims that the collision damaged their fence and garden. The complexities of involving property damage claims require legal expertise to resolve effectively.
  • You discover discrepancies in the accident report: After the accident, you and the other driver agree on what happened. After you obtain the police report, however, you discover discrepancies that could adversely affect your liability and insurance premiums. You need a lawyer to contest inaccuracies in the report.
  • The at-fault motorist lacks sufficient insurance coverage to pay your claim: At first, the damages from the accident seem minor, and both you and the other driver agree to handle it through insurance. Later, however, you discover that the at-fault driver is underinsured, and their insurance coverage is insufficient to cover your damages. You need a lawyer to pursue a claim under your own underinsured motorist coverage.
  • The other driver becomes hostile or uncooperative: Initially, the other driver seems reasonable and willing to cooperate. However, their attitude changes, and they become hostile, deny responsibility, or even threaten you. A lawyer can protect your interests and handle any aggressive tactics.
  • You receive repeated lowball settlement offers from the insurance company: The insurance company simply will not offer an adequate settlement. A lawyer can evaluate the offer, negotiate a fair settlement, or, if necessary, take your case to court and even all the way to trial.

These scenarios barely scratch the surface of possible situations that might require you to hire a lawyer. Ultimately, it is almost always the case that reaching out to an attorney for a free consultation is worth your time.

A Lawyer Can Handle All Communications and Negotiations for You

It’s not a good idea to talk to the insurance company directly or (especially) give a recorded statement. However, if you hire a lawyer, you can tell the insurance company to direct all further communication to them. 

You can also have your lawyer handle all negotiations for you. Don’t worry, as your lawyer cannot settle your claim without your permission. 

How the Contingency Fee System Works

“Should I get a lawyer for a car accident?” Can you even afford to? The answer to the second question is almost certainly yes, at least if you have a strong claim. A “strong” claim means a claim that has a good chance of winning and one that will pay well if you win. 

Under the contingency fee system that almost all personal injury lawyers use, you pay no legal fees unless you win compensation. In that case, your fee will amount to 30% to 40% of whatever amount you win.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation With a Personal Injury Lawyer

Just about any personal injury lawyer will be happy to talk with you about your case free of charge. After all , that is how they identify promising cases. Your lawyer will not offer to take your case unless they think they can win it. Contact a personal injury lawyer today.

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