Should I Get a Lawyer for a Minor Car Accident?

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Should I Get a Lawyer for a Minor Car Accident?

In many instances, you would not need a lawyer for a minor car accident because the insurance system empowers you to file a claim independently. Plus, the court system allows you to act on your own behalf should you need to file a lawsuit. Still, working with a lawyer offers substantial benefits, like increasing the likelihood of a meaningful settlement.

Morgan and Morgan offer free case evaluations to explain the pros and cons of hiring a car accident lawyer for your claim, even if it didn't result in serious injuries to either party. However, we always encourage people to seek medical care after an accident because seemingly minor injuries could disguise life-threatening conditions.

When you work with one of our lawyers, you can be assured that any losses you incur will be accounted for, your claim will be accurately valued, and crucial deadlines will be met on time. Consider the following reasons why hiring a car accident lawyer for a minor collision might be an advantageous safeguard for your interests.

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FAQ

Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

  • Is It Worth Getting a Lawyer for a Minor Car Accident?

    Many people don't realize that they are entitled to work with a lawyer, even if the accident was minor and they did nothing wrong. You don't have to be charged with a crime, face a lawsuit, or be at fault for the accident to reap the benefits of legal counsel. However, when there is a question of liability (fault), your claim is denied, the settlement offered doesn't cover your losses, or you discover later that your injuries are more serious than what you first thought, a lawyer may be instrumental in a favorable outcome.

    When Liability Is in Question

    If you run into issues concerning who is responsible for paying for the accident, this could come down to evidence. A lawyer can help collect and organize the evidence and present it in a manner that clearly establishes liability. Sometimes this requires the ability to demonstrate the causal sequence of the event.

    When the biggest concern is property damage, an investigator can use their skills to come to a conclusion about who's car hit whose and how to determine fault. Suppose your insurance company's adjuster concludes it was your fault, and you disagree. In that case, you can get a second opinion through an independent public adjuster.

    You may live in a state that observes no-fault insurance law. In that case, liability shouldn't be an issue since each party pays for their medical care and lost income if they miss work because of injuries. However, which driver is at fault is a component of property damage. Still, that's why you have liability insurance. In the case of a relatively minor accident with just property damage, you would need to consider the cost of a lawyer vs. perhaps paying higher premiums for a period of time.

    Furthermore, if you find yourself on the wrong end of a lawsuit over the incident, a car accident lawyer can work to establish that you're without fault. In states that observe the comparative negligence doctrine, any payment you receive could be reduced by the percentage of fault you share with the other driver. In some states, you cannot collect anything if you are 50% or more at fault. It makes sense to hire a lawyer when it comes down to percentages and whether you cannot collect insurance or where you'll be 100% on the hook for the other party's expenses.  

    In difficult cases, your car accident lawyer may need to hire outside help from our network of professionals, such as an accident reconstructionist. However, professionals like these are typically costly, so here again, you would need to weigh the benefits of winning the claim over the expense of hiring someone with this kind of expertise.

    Disputes With the Insurance Company

    Another common circumstance where hiring a lawyer may be your best option is when you dispute the insurance company's decisions. Claim denials and low settlement offers are the most typical causes of disputes.

    Claim denials can often be attributed to simple mistakes in filing your claim. We know it sounds ridiculous, but it might be a simple piece of information you omitted. These kinds of errors trigger an automatic denial, and the insurance company may not be forthcoming with ways to correct a routine mistake. They're not going to help you get money from them. However, a car accident lawyer can review your claim, the denial letter, and insurance policies to identify the issue and help you resolve it.

    When your claim is denied, insurance companies are required to state a reason. If the reason is clear, you may be able to resubmit and get it pushed through without further issues. Still, some insurance companies make the claims process unreasonably difficult. You should know there are strict regulations that insurance companies must abide by according to state laws. When they run afoul of these laws, claimants have a right to seek compensation through a bad faith claim.

    A bad faith claim is based on the fact that the insurance company isn't just making a claim challenging, but it's acting in an egregiously unreasonable manner. For example, they aren't responding to your attempts to communicate or are using bad-faith tactics to avoid paying at all. In all fairness, bad faith practices do not run rampant in the insurance industry. But when you come across them, you may be entitled to triple damages, attorney's fees and court costs, interest, and possibly punitive damages.

    Inadequate Settlement Offers

    Often, your first settlement offer is going to be a disappointment. It may not cover the actual value of your losses. In this scenario, a car accident lawyer can be of great help. A lawyer can not only provide you with the guidance you need to get your claim approved, but they might also be able to get you more money than expected. In fact, the Insurance Research Council revealed a study that showed attorney involvement resulted in 3.5 times more money in settlements than claims where no attorney representation existed.

    A lawyer can review your settlement offer and identify where compensation is lacking. They can assess the true value of your claim and submit a demand letter outlining the reasons and presenting the evidence to back up their argument. Often, it comes down to a cat-and-mouse game with insurance companies. They offer the lowest settlement first until there is pushback and better arguments are presented. They know that the average individual isn't going to understand what they're entitled to, so they take advantage of that.

    They also work on the assumption that most people are afraid of the costs associated with a lawyer. However, we work on a contingency fee basis which is an arrangement in that we charge no fees unless we recover compensation. The study by the Insurance Research Council also showed that claimants who used an attorney still recovered more money even after paying lawyer's fees.

    You also have the right to get your car repaired using quality materials and labor. You don't have to agree to a lowball settlement forcing you to accept subpar vehicle parts and questionable labor. Furthermore, if you have injuries, you are entitled to recover compensation for your medical bills, lost income, and in some states, pain, suffering, and further damages incurred from the wreck. A lawyer can help you get the settlement you deserve without all the hassle and wasted time.

    You Discover Your Injuries Are More Serious Than You Thought

    We've seen it happen over and over again. The aftermath of an accident can be chaotic. You'll likely be rattled and running on adrenaline and don't realize that you are, in fact, hurt. Injuries like concussions, soft tissue, and back injuries may not be apparent initially. Muscles and ligaments can be jolted and stretched beyond normal from the force of a sudden impact which can result in painful injuries that don't manifest for some time. Even if you did go to a doctor to get checked out after the accident, soft tissue damage wouldn't necessarily show up on an X-ray.

    Similarly, back pain may not show up immediately. However, nerves can be compressed, and your spine may have a herniated disc. The symptoms may not show up right away. Still, you may experience numbness and tingling in your extremities, reduced mobility, and muscle spasms.

    Concussions are another creeper injury that doesn't show up straight away. However, they can be quite serious, requiring immediate medical care. Symptoms like clouded thinking, an inability to concentrate, nausea, dizziness, and memory issues are all signs of a concussion.

    You still have options if you don't go to a doctor right away after an accident. While it makes the issue more challenging, there are many legitimate reasons for not seeking medical care directly after an accident. Not understanding you were harmed is a big one. It may impact your settlement, though, because the other party's insurance company will use it to minimize your injuries. It takes a car accident lawyer with experience and skill to argue the relevant facts of your claim and persuade them to understand what you were experiencing at the time of the accident and why you didn't seek medical care immediately.  

  • Can a Minor Car Accident Be Traumatic?

    Suppose you weren't physically injured, but in the days, weeks, and months following the accident, you've noticed your mood is off, you're experiencing anxiety and depression, have trouble sleeping, and feel fearful or angry all the time, but you don't understand why.

    You may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Most people associate this condition with combat veterans. Still, it has been well documented within the psychological community to impact people that have witnessed or experienced a traumatic event.

    While the insurance industry may coin your accident as "minor," that doesn't mean you can't suffer from the psychological ramifications. When the negligence of another party causes severe disruption to your life, and you incur expenses for the treatment of trauma or PTSD, it should be compensated through the other party's insurance. Morgan and Morgan can help.

  • When Is It Too Late to Get a Lawyer After a Car Accident?

    Anytime you've been in a car accident, we suggest you contact us for a case evaluation. We will review your claim's facts and advise you on a path forward. That said, you may not have the right to file a claim or lawsuit if the statute of limitations has passed. This is a deadline that all states have in place for initiating legal actions. Each state is different.

    It may be too late to get a lawyer after a car accident if you've already accepted a settlement, too. Once you sign the papers, it's a legal contract that absolves the insurance company from further liability. That's why we recommend having a lawyer review a settlement before signing. We have staff available 24/7 to answer your questions, so if you're about to agree to a settlement, contact us right away.

  • Let Morgan and Morgan Provide Support With Your Car Accident Case

    Every car accident is different, with factors that will influence the course of the case. Allow us to guide you and provide support for your legal matter. We may be able to find ways to cover the expenses incurred because of an accident caused by a negligent party. Get in touch today for a free case evaluation.

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