If you experience a small fender bender, sideswipe, or other minor car accident, you might wonder whether you need to hire a lawyer. While the answer is sometimes “no,” there are many instances where even a minor collision requires legal expertise.
It all depends on the circumstances surrounding the accident, including injuries, vehicle damage, and who is at fault. These details can help you figure out whether or not you should hire a car accident lawyer for a minor accident.
What Happens After a Minor Car Accident
If all goes well after a minor accident, you would file a personal injury claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company and receive compensation for damages like:
- Medical bills
- Doctor visits and hospital stays
- Prescription medications
- Vehicle repair costs
- Lost wages from missed work time
- Pain and suffering
If your damages are truly very minor, you might be able to receive full payment for them and move on.
Unfortunately, it’s not common for the insurer to accept your full claim—unless it’s truly very small. Most of the time, the insurance company will try to offer you a settlement much lower than what you actually deserve—even after a minor accident.
If the insurance company declines your claim or the other driver didn’t have insurance, you may be able to take the case to small claims court. In this situation or if your damages are very small, you may not need to hire a car accident lawyer for help. But even within the context of a small accident, there are situations where you may need an attorney’s assistance.
Why You May Need a Car Accident Lawyer for a Minor Accident
Instances where you may need a car accident lawyer include:
- Injuries that are serious and/or need long-term treatment
- Disagreement about which driver is at fault
- Failure to agree on what is fair compensation
- Handling your own claim is too stressful or you have doubts
- You need to take the other driver to court
Disputes over who is at fault or how much compensation you deserve happens frequently in car accident claims. Insurance companies do not like to pay out much on insurance claims, even if the damages are relatively minor.
Most insurers have a whole team of adjusters and attorneys on their side to reduce what they pay you. Without help from your own personal injury lawyer, you may have a hard time receiving the full compensation needed to cover your costs. Even if your damages are minor, you shouldn’t have to bear the burden of expenses you didn’t cause.
You may also need to go in front of a judge or jury to settle certain aspects of your claim, and a car accident lawyer can help you through the process.
Your Injuries Might Not Be as Minor as You Think
You should also consider the severity of your injuries, even after a car accident that was minor. Many common car accident injuries, such as whiplash, can become more painful and serious with time.
Your body is in “fight or flight” mode right after an accident, which can suppress pain for hours or even days afterward. This is why it’s so vital that you see a doctor after a car accident—even a minor one. A seemingly small rear-end accident can cause head, neck, or spinal damage that requires a lot of treatment or recovery time.
So, if there is any possibility that you were injured in your car accident, it’s generally a good idea to retain a lawyer who can help you with the insurance claim process.
Should You Hire a Car Accident Lawyer After Your Accident?
This can be a hard question to answer definitively without all the facts. But if you were hurt at all in your minor car accident, you should consider the possibility of working with a lawyer.
Thankfully, most personal injury attorneys offer a free consultation where you can tell them about your case and ask questions. If they have the right experience, they can give their opinion on the help you need and your chances of winning full recovery.
Either way, having a car accident lawyer on your side from the beginning will take a lot of pressure off of you, ensure your legal rights are protected, and help save you from getting taken advantage of with an unfair settlement.
Injury Claim Statute of Limitations in Georgia
Another benefit of hiring a car accident lawyer is that they can help ensure you file for compensation before the deadline. According to Georgia Code section 9-3-33, you have two years from the date of your car accident to file a personal injury claim.
If you try to file outside of this time period, you’ll miss your chance at seeking compensation. While two years might seem like plenty of time, it goes quickly in a legal setting. You will need to start taking action immediately and ensure you’re gathering the right evidence along the way.
It’s easy to procrastinate on filing a claim after your car accident. You’re likely already overwhelmed with treatment costs, getting your car repaired, and having to miss work—even for minor injuries or vehicle damage. It’s hard to begin the process. That’s where a car accident lawyer can help, taking on your case and making sure all deadlines are met without you having to stress about it.
What You Should Always Do After a Minor Accident
Even before you consider talking to a lawyer, there are things you can do to legally protect yourself after a minor car accident. Since none of us are getting into car accidents every day, it’s understandable if you aren’t sure how to approach the moments after an accident.
Here are some things you should do as soon as possible:
- If there are any injuries and/or property damage totaling $500 or more, you should call the police to report the accident.
- Check yourself and others in the accident for injuries.
- Take pictures of the accident scene, your injuries, and your vehicle damage.
- Exchange names, contact information, driver’s license numbers, and insurance information with the other driver(s).
- Get the names and contact information of any witnesses.
- Make sure responding police officers file a report of the accident.
- See a doctor as soon as possible to get checked out—even if your injuries are minor or you aren’t yet sure about their severity.
Gathering the above information and taking these actions can help a lot if you work with a car accident lawyer. They will be able to use it to strengthen your case and build a solid insurance claim for you.
Get a Free Consultation with a Car Accident Lawyer
At John Foy & Associates, our number one goal is full compensation for the costs of your injuries and other damages—no matter how minor your accident was. Working with us is risk-free because:
- The consultation is always FREE and
- There is no upfront cost
We don’t get paid unless we win you money, so you can begin working with us right away. We will take the stress out of the process so you can focus on recovering—physically and emotionally—from the collision.
To get started with your FREE consultation today, call us at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online.