After being in a car accident, there will be one question that inevitably crosses your mind: “Is it worth hiring a car accident attorney right now?” You probably know at least a few people who have been in car accidents, and it’s likely that not all of them had a lawyer walk them through the claims process. Does that mean you won’t need a car accident lawyer either?
As a general rule, you can assume that your claim will benefit from the assistance of a professional car accident attorney. How helpful that attorney can be will depend on the details of your accident, though. A lawyer might be there to prepare your claim and provide guidance, or they might be an integral part of your claim’s success.
What Car Accidents Attorneys Bring to a Claim
The average auto insurance company keeps defense attorneys either on-call or on-staff. The entire purpose of their career path is making certain that car accident claimants get as little as possible when filing a claim, even if that means they get nothing all despite not being at-fault for a crash. You do not have to take what they do personally because it isn’t, but you do have to take it seriously and work to counteract their efforts.
The simplest way to make certain your claim isn’t trampled by defense attorneys is to hire the services of a legal professional of your own. Having an auto accident attorney in your corner makes you immediately ready for whatever response the opposition brings to your claim. If you have not filed your claim yet, then a lawyer can help with investigating the circumstances of your crash to better prepare your claim, giving the insurance company less room upfront to deny it.
A few things your car accident attorney will probably want to do when working on your claim are:
- Investigating the scene of your crash, which is best done if you retain their services the same day or the next day.
- Retrieving copies of reports from police officers, firefighters, and EMTs who responded to your accident.
- Calling eyewitnesses who gave you their contact information after seeing your crash unfold.
- Interacting with all insurance companies for you, which helps avoid you saying the wrong thing inadvertently.
- Calculating your past, future, economic, and economic damages to know how much compensation you deserve.
Your car accident attorney will also be there to intercept any initial settlement offers you might receive soon after you first file your claim. The first settlement offer you receive is almost guaranteed to be a lowball offer, which is one that is intentionally much less than what the insurance company thinks you might ultimately be deserved. This tactic is used to try to get you to sign off on a small amount early, preventing you from pursuing a greater amount later.
When You Probably Need a Car Accident Lawyer
You most likely will want a car accident attorney if any of these situations apply to your case:
- Legal inexperience: The first thing you need to realize is that you will be at an inherent disadvantage if you do not have a solid understanding of your state’s personal injury and liability laws. The situation will only tilt further out of your favor if you also do not know the typical insurance claim process. Hiring a lawyer instantly bridges that gap between your knowledge and that of the opposing counsel.
- Steep damages: If your vehicle was totaled or you were seriously injured in your accident, then the damages caused by your crash are probably going to be steep. Hospital bills for catastrophic injuries alone can easily exceed the average healthcare plan, which might mean you could be left with steep bills if your claim is not handled correctly. When the stakes are high, do what you can to gain an advantage by hiring a car accident lawyer early.
- Claim denial: Once your claim has been denied, you should call a local attorney for help challenging or appealing the denial. The insurance company is probably expecting you to accept the denial and move on with your life. Returning with an attorney can catch them by surprise.
- Stubborn insurance rep: Sometimes, car accident victims try to negotiate with an insurance company to receive a better settlement offer. This strategy rarely pans out positively. Once the insurance company attorneys realize you are not represented by a professional lawyer, they will try every tactic they know to coerce you into accepting a lowballed amount, or they will simply not negotiate at all and try to let your claim fizzle out.
When You Probably Don’t Need a Car Accident Lawyer
Your claim probably does not need an attorney’s help if:
- You aren’t seriously injured: When no one is injured in a car accident, the consequent car accident claims are usually not complex and won’t be as hotly contested. Under these circumstances, you can probably proceed with insurance company interactions on your own.
- You receive a fair settlement offer: As unbelievable as it might sound at first, some insurance companies do take pride in offering fair settlement offers to claimants. The first offer you receive could be enough to pay for your associated damages and costs. Usually, this will only happen when the only damage in a crash happens to your vehicle, not to you. Again, though, beware accepting initial settlement offers without at least letting a car accident lawyer review it.
In these situations, you probably do not need a car accident attorney, and most attorneys will probably not accept your claim. Law firms can only handle so many clients at any given time, so most try to reserve their time and resources for clients who really need their help. If your case does not involve serious injuries, steep damages, or unfair insurance company tactics, then an attorney will likely politely decline your offer to hire them. Although, you might still be able to hire an attorney for legal guidance but not representation.
How Much Does a Car Accident Attorney Cost?
There is good news about the cost of hiring a car accident lawyer for your claim: it should cost little or nothing up front. Most personal injury attorneys offer contingency fee agreements for car accident claims. A contingency fee agreement basically says the attorney agrees to only be paid attorney fees if they end your claim with a successful settlement or verdict amount paid to you. The amount the attorney is paid following a victory will also only be a percentage of your total winnings, so you never have to worry about paying them more than you can afford. Depending on the difficulty of a case, contingency fees usually range between 25% and 40% of the winnings, but this amount will vary from law firm to law firm.
Many car accident lawyers also offer to pay for all costs associated with your claim upfront, too. For example, some firms can cover court costs, the price to hire expert witnesses, and more, only being reimbursed for those costs if they win your case.
Leading Car Accident Attorneys in Olympia & Beyond
The Law Offices of Harold D. Carr, P.S. is proud to make managing a car accident claim simple for our community members in Olympia, Tacoma, Lakewood, Puyallup, Federal Way, and more. Lead Attorney Harold Carr has personally worked on thousands of injury cases since 1991, and our entire team has decades of collective experience. If you are thinking you need a car accident attorney’s help but aren’t sure yet, then please call (800) 520-6617 and speak to a member of our firm. We would be happy to hear about your case during a free initial consultation and explain how we can be of assistance.