Being in a car accident, even a minor one, can be stressful and overwhelming. You may be wondering if you need to hire a lawyer to help you with the process. Here are some things to consider when deciding if you need legal representation after a minor collision:
Assess the Damage
Take stock of the damage to your vehicle and any injuries you or your passengers sustained. Was there only cosmetic damage like scratches or dents? Or did any cars involved sustain disabling damage and need to be towed? Did anyone require medical treatment beyond just a check-up? The more significant the damage and injuries, the more helpful hiring a lawyer can be.
In minor accidents, liability may be clear cut. If the other driver rear-ended you, they are likely responsible. However, liability is not always black and white. An experienced attorney can examine the evidence and apply legal standards to build a strong case for fault and maximize your financial recovery.
Consider Your Insurance Company
Will your insurer try to share or deny fault? Do you anticipate pushback from the other driver’s insurer? A lawyer can be your advocate and deal directly with the insurance companies. They understand how to negotiate and get the fairest settlement.
Weigh the Costs
Attorneys generally charge a contingency fee, meaning you pay them a percentage of your final settlement. Typical fees range from 25% to 40%. While this reduces your total payout, hiring a lawyer often results in a larger settlement, even after fees. Compare the potential fee to your estimated losses and recovery.
Protect Your Rights
There are statutes of limitations on injury and damage claims resulting from car accidents. An attorney ensures you take the proper legal steps to preserve your right to recover compensation. Filing claims correctly and in a timely manner is critical.
Managing the legal, medical, and insurance aspects of an accident can be draining. Speaking with a qualified lawyer helps you understand your options and fight for the maximum compensation you deserve. Though accidents may be “minor”, the impact on your life may be bigger than you realized. In these cases, hiring a lawyer is wise to get the outcome you want.
What is considered a minor car accident?
A minor accident is generally defined as one where there are no or very minor injuries and damage to the vehicles is minimal. This typically involves accidents at low speeds with no rollovers or major impact collisions.
When should I hire a lawyer after a minor accident?
It’s a good idea to at least consult with a lawyer if the other driver was clearly at fault but refuses to admit it, if there is a dispute with your insurance company over assigning fault, or if your damages exceed the value of a small claims court case.
Do I need a lawyer if it’s just a fender bender?
If it’s just a scrape or dent and both parties agree on what happened, you can likely resolve it through your insurance companies without a lawyer. But if there are injuries or disagreements over who is at fault, a lawyer can help.
Can I handle a minor accident claim myself?
You can try to handle a straightforward, low-stakes case yourself by negotiating with insurance companies directly. However, an attorney has experience optimizing settlements and making sure your legal rights are protected.
How much will hiring a lawyer for a minor accident cost me?
Most lawyers work on contingency fees, meaning they take 25-40% of your final settlement amount as payment. So while this reduces your total payout, their expertise often results in a larger settlement overall.
Does it make financial sense to hire an attorney?
If you have extensive damages or injuries, the increased payout lawyers can obtain usually outweighs the cost. But for very minor accidents with minimal losses, the legal fees may not be financially worthwhile.
When do I need to hire an attorney after an accident?
It’s best to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after an accident to avoid missing any deadlines and have them start gathering evidence and contacting insurance companies on your behalf.
Can I change my mind and get a lawyer later if I try to handle it myself first?
You typically can hire a lawyer later on if you are unable to resolve things yourself. But it’s best to get legal guidance early so no steps are missed that could weaken your claim down the road.