If you’ve been in an accident – a car accident, a fall at a place of business, or a medical malpractice injury, for example – in most cases, hiring a lawyer is one of the most important steps you can take in order to ensure a fair outcome, especially if the accident was not your fault.
Insurance companies are in the business of fighting for the rights of their clients, and if someone else was at fault, unfortunately, that’s not you. That means they may offer to settle, but the settlement on the table could be a lowball offer, and may not cover the complete costs of your medical care or property damage.
There are some cases in which an attorney isn’t necessary. For example, if you were in a car accident and were not injured, you likely won’t need a lawyer, as medical bills won’t be an issue, and insurance companies will go by Blue Book value or written estimates when assessing the damage done to your vehicle.
Be sure to seek medical attention even if you don’t think you were hurt in the accident. This is not a call you want to determine on your own, as adrenaline in the wake of a crash can mask injuries, and if you see a doctor a week or so later, citing the accident as the cause, the other driver’s insurance company can – and likely will – claim that the accident and your injuries were unrelated.
If the other driver admits fault, you likely won’t need an attorney, either, unless your injuries or the injuries of a passenger are serious and there is some question over whether or not either of you might need long-term medical care beyond your initial treatment. In cases such as this, the defendant’s insurance coverage may not be enough to cover your total expenses, and you would look at the defendant’s personal assets for compensation.
In such a situation, making an appointment to discuss your options with a personal injury attorney is the first step toward a fair settlement that doesn’t leave you or a passenger with medical bills that are a struggle to pay.
With a personal injury attorney in place, the insurance company will communicate solely with your attorney, who will handle the details of your case and work toward the best possible outcome. A personal injury attorney will help ensure that you recover damages ranging from financial losses, lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering, all of which can be important if the other driver’s insurance company doesn’t seem interested in offering a settlement that fully covers those costs.
What if I was the negligent driver?
If you were the driver at fault and carry comprehensive liability auto insurance, your insurance company will generally act as your representation – to a point. Because there are set limits to liability coverage, if the medical expenses, lost wages, and other compensation required to make the other party whole exceed that limit, hiring an attorney with experience defending clients against personal injury lawsuits, not a personal injury attorney, would be necessary.