Car accidents are a very common occurrence throughout the U.S., and while some result in devastating injuries and catastrophic economic losses, others may only involve a few hundred dollars worth of vehicle repairs. When a driver experiences a car accident, he or she will likely wonder whether it is best to hire a motor vehicle accident attorney or handle the matter personally.
When to Hire an Attorney For A Car Accident Claim
If you recently had a car accident and are unsure about whether you should hire an attorney, ask yourself a few questions about your situation to determine if hiring an attorney is the right move.
- How severe are your injuries? Hire an attorney if you sustained any kind of severe injury or any injury that will require long-term care and rehabilitation. An attorney can help ensure you receive appropriate compensation for your total losses.
- Is liability clear? If the fault is certain in your accident and the at-fault driver assumes responsibility for the accident, you may not need an attorney to settle the matter. If the other driver denies liability or you cannot identify the responsible driver, hiring an attorney may be your best option.
- Do you bear any liability? You should never admit fault to an insurance company or the police, even if you know you bear at least partial responsibility. An attorney can help you minimize your liability and help maximize your recovery.
If your accident involves minimal damages, clear liability, and you know that you do not bear any responsibility for your damages, hiring an attorney may not be the best option for your situation.
Handling Your Claim Alone
The first step toward recovery after any car accident is insurance. Depending on state laws, you may have the option of filing a claim against the other driver’s insurance in a fault state or file a claim against your own auto insurance policy’s personal injury protection coverage in a no-fault state. If your total damages fall within the scope of available insurance coverage from either your own policy or an at-fault driver’s policy, then your claim will likely end once you receive your insurance claim settlement.
Dealing with insurance is rarely easy. Every insurer will want to investigate a claim before paying any kind of settlement, and an insurer may contest a claim for various reasons. If you plan to handle your car accident claim without an attorney, you should prepare a thorough demand letter for the appropriate insurance carrier. Include the details of your claim, how your accident happened, and the insurance coverage in question. A strong demand letter minimizes the chances of pushback against your claim. However, you should expect to have to deal with a claims adjuster at some point during the process.
Dealing With Insurance Alone in California
Insurance claims adjusters typically look for anything they can find to limit their employers’ liability for accident claims. If you plan to pursue an insurance claim without an attorney, you should expect the claims adjuster assigned to your claim to challenge your truthfulness and the evidence you present. Be very careful about your word choice; do not downplay your injuries, do not admit fault for anything, and do not engage in any pleasantries or casual conversation with the claims adjuster. Remember, he or she is not looking out for your best interests; the adjuster is trying to limit his or her employer’s financial liability for your claim.
It is possible and sometimes the best choice to handle an auto accident claim without hiring an attorney. However, if you face substantial damages or liability is unclear in your claim, or if you are unsure how to handle an insurance claim, hiring an attorney may offer valuable peace of mind and help ensure a satisfactory recovery.