When to Hire an Attorney

Car Accident Claims and Lawsuits: Determining Whether You Need Legal Counsel

Not every car accident warrants hiring an attorney. Particularly in minor collisions that cause property damage alone, you may not need to hire an attorney to seek fair compensation from the insurance company. It may be a fairly straightforward matter that involves the insurer covering the cost of repairs and a rental car, if this is included in your policy. The following factors make it a wise idea to consider involving an attorney:
  • The accident has left you or a loved one injured or has caused the death of a family member.
  • The insurance company is delaying payment or is giving you the run around in handling your claim.
  • The insurance company has offered you a settlement, but you are unsure of whether this is fair and would like a second opinion.

An attorney may play an important role in handling your car accident claim by negotiating with the insurance claims adjuster or by taking your case to court in order to seek maximum financial compensation on your behalf. This is particularly crucial if you have suffered injury, have lost a loved one or if your vehicle was seriously damaged. If you do not hire a lawyer and accept the first settlement offered by the insurer, chances are that it will be less than you would have received if you had retained legal counsel. It may not be enough to actually cover all of the post-accident expenses you have experienced and may experience in the future. Insurance companies are notorious for offering the lowest possible settlements in order to keep profits high and payouts low.

Before you sign anything or verbally accept a settlement offer, you may find it prudent to review the matter with an attorney. This can help you determine whether you are on the right track or whether you are in need of legal representation at this time – before it's too late. Insurance providers often record conversations and may the things you have said or done against you. You need to be careful.

What about attorney fees?

It costs money to work with an attorney, and this may reduce the amount of compensation you receive from your claim or lawsuit. Most attorneys handle car accident claims on a contingent fee basis, however, and this means that you do not have to pay for their services unless they secure a settlement on your behalf. Their fee will typically be a percentage of the amount of money recovered on your behalf, usually around 33%. This gives your attorney more of an incentive to seek as high of a settlement or award as possible. Even with attorney fees taken out, you may find that you are able to receive far more than if you chose not to work with a lawyer. There may be some expenses that you will be responsible for, so it is crucial that you review this with your lawyer so you have a clear understanding of what to expect.

The first step is a review of your case, at which point you can determine whether you need an attorney in the first place. Click here to find a car accident attorney in your area.