One of the best ways to find an attorney in your area is through your local bar association.
After car accidents, most people wonder, what should I do next? A key question that arises in such a situation is, is it worth it for me to get a lawyer? This question is especially prevalent after minor car accidents. After all, who wants to spend money on an attorney when it is unnecessary to do so? If you can settle the case yourself and recover damages without a lawyer, then why not? To further explore these questions, we turned to the Richmond, VA car accident attorneys at River Run Law for guidance.
Consulting with One or Two Attorneys After a Car Accident Is Always a Good Idea
Even when a car accident and its accompanying damages are relatively minor, consulting with one or two car accident attorneys is a smart move. Experienced car accident attorneys have seen it all before, including situations where their services are not necessary.
If you explain your situation and circumstances to an attorney and they tell you that you don’t need an attorney, it is a good sign that you can get through the settlement process without them. Conversely, a lawyer you consult with may identify underlying complications in your case that will make going ahead without an attorney’s services unwise. Seeking an attorney consultation should ease your concerns one way or another.
Consultations are a Low Risk Endeavor
Part of what makes hiring a lawyer so daunting is the fact that lawyers can be expensive. Luckily, many car accident attorneys work on the basis of contingency fees and offer free consultations. If a car accident attorney offers you a free consultation, you don’t have much, if anything, to lose by taking them up on the offer.
Even Minor Car Accident Damages Can Compound Quickly
Damages from car accidents compound quickly. This is true even if whiplash is the only injury you suffer. Whiplash may feel relatively minor, and often it is, but this isn’t always the case. Sometimes whiplash can take years to recover from. Whiplash can also worsen over time without proper treatment. Properly recovering from whiplash may involve treatment from medical specialists, physical rehabilitation, and missed work, the costs for which quickly add up.
A car accident attorney will help ensure that you get the right medical treatment for your injuries, so they do not worsen. Regardless of the injuries you suffer, your attorney will help you track those damages so you can prove them and recover the compensation you deserve.
If You Don’t Have a Lawyer, Insurance Companies May Try to Take Advantage of You
Even after a minor accident, insurance companies may try to take advantage of you if you don’t have a lawyer.
One of the tactics insurance companies use against people who lack legal representation is making lowball settlement offers and using coercive negotiation tactics. A lowball settlement offer is one that doesn’t fully compensate you for damages you suffer. Insurance companies can make it seem like their lowball offer is the best offer that you’re going to get and try to pressure you into accepting it.
Car accident lawyers are adept at identifying and rejecting lowball settlement offers. After all, lawyers are professional negotiators. Anytime you need to negotiate, it’s good to have a professional on your side.
Some Settlements Happen Quickly, But Other Settlements Can Take a Long Time
Settlements don’t always happen quickly. Another coercive tactic that insurance companies use against people without legal representation is dragging the settlement process out. The purpose of doing so is twofold. First, the longer the case takes to settle, the more desperate the other party is to settle.
The second purpose of delaying a settlement is to inch closer to the statute of limitations. Statutes of limitations set a time limit on how long after an incident you have to file a legal claim in court. If the statute of limitations passes, you can no longer file the claim in court. By dragging out the settlement process with someone lacking legal representation, insurance companies hope to force them into accepting a lowball settlement because they no longer have time to hire a lawyer and take a claim to court. If you already have an attorney, you can avoid this situation.
When You Might Not Need to Hire an Attorney
The best way to know that you don’t need to hire an attorney is to consult with a couple of car accident lawyers personally. If they both say that you don’t need an attorney’s services for your claim, it’s a good sign that you will be fine without one. Some of the reasons that you may not need an attorney are:
- The amount of damages in question is small enough to not go beyond small claims court;
- An insurance company is already offering you a settlement that fully compensates your damages;
- Attorney costs will exceed your total damages (i.e., if you suffer property damage alone and your car has a relatively low value); or
- The total damages in your case do not make financial sense for the attorney.
If you find yourself in any of the aforementioned situations, you probably don’t need to hire a car accident lawyer.
Finding the Right Attorney for Your Case
If you decide to hire a car accident lawyer for help, you want to find the right one for your specific needs. Doing so isn’t always easy—schedule consultations with a few attorneys to find the one right for your case. Before meeting with any of the attorneys, prepare a list of questions to ask all of them. By asking them all the same questions, you can objectively compare their answers. Consider adding these questions to your list.
Bar Associations Can Help Connect You with the Right Attorney
One of the best ways to find an attorney in your area is through your local bar association. State and local bar associations often have referral services to connect clients with attorneys. To make things easier, the American Bar Association maintains a directory of all state bar association referral pages.