Car accidents can be expensive, time consuming and serious. But it’s hard to know whether you need a lawyer’s help to resolve your case, especially at the beginning. When should you get legal help, and when shouldn’t you?
The general answer is to always check with a lawyer who offers a free consultation. If the consultation is free, it means you can get a professional legal opinion without risk. This is a two-way street: lawyers don’t take on every potential case they find, so offering a free consultation is a way for them to get the basics of your claim and see if you have a case before they commit. You can use this same meeting to your advantage, and find out what they think your claim may be worth if you go forward.
This approach is smart in any car accident case. But it is true that a lawyer is more useful in some types of cases than others. We’ll look at a few of those circumstances below.
What kinds of car accident cases don’t need lawyers?
Sometimes, the amount of money you could recover is so small that having a lawyer won’t really help you win much more. For example:
- If your injury was minor pain and discomfort such as mild whiplash, and
- Your injury did not require a specialist doctor or expensive tests, and
- You have completely recovered from your injury after a few chiropractic sessions…
…then you might not need a lawyer.
The reason for this is that this kind of claim is probably only going to win you the cost of medical bills plus an extra $1,000-2,000. It’s possible that a lawyer could negotiate the amount up slightly, but the difference likely wouldn’t be enough to be worth your time.
Even with this kind of “minor” injury, it’s still worth getting a free opinion from a lawyer before you make a decision. And if the same minor injury required physical therapy, a specialist, an epidural or other special treatment, it could be worth thousands more and a lawyer could make a big difference for you.
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What are signs that I would really benefit from a car accident lawyer?
In contrast to the example above, there are also circumstances where having a lawyer is important. These are circumstances where they could negotiate you a much higher settlement, or where they could help counter insurance company tactics designed to keep you from getting paid.
These kinds of circumstances include:
- Your injury is serious. The more serious your injury, the more money is at stake and the more the insurance company will try to lowball you. A “serious” injury does not necessarily mean surgery or hospitalization. A broken bone, a joint injury that requires injections or long-term treatment, and anything that causes severe pain are all serious injuries.
- You’re not sure how serious your injury is. Often, you will find yourself feeling in “limbo” where your pain is not getting better, the initial treatment doesn’t seem to be working, and you start to question whether you will ever improve. If this describes your situation, a lawyer is your best option. They will not only help you see the right specialists for your injury, they will hold the insurance company accountable for the full long-term cost—not just what has been diagnosed so far.
- You’re worried you can’t pay for treatment. Car accident injuries carry financial stress. If you are worried about how you’ll pay for treatment, this is a sure sign the insurance company is not offering you enough. Your lawyer can help you get treatment now and not have to pay for it until the insurance money comes through. They could also help you get a larger total offer.
- You missed work time. Insurance companies always undervalue this, and a lawyer can help you get fair compensation for all of your missed work days.
- The insurance company is blaming you. This tactic takes many forms. Often the insurance company will say you didn’t report your injury soon enough or made it “worse” by not seeking treatment. This is their way of saying they won’t pay for all of it. You need representation.
- The insurance company doesn’t seem to take your injury as seriously as you do. Insurance companies do not have your best interests at heart. Their job is to pay the least amount possible. Once they put a dollar amount on your diagnosis, they don’t really care whether the treatment worked or not. Get someone on your side who is there to represent your interests, and force them to take you seriously.
What kind of lawyer do I need?
When you talk to a lawyer about your car accident claim, not just any attorney will do. Ideally, you want someone experienced, knowledgeable and easy to talk to. Here are the signs we recommend you look for, both when choosing who to call and at the consultation itself:
- Most or all of the cases they take are personal injury cases, especially car accidents
- They have at least 10 years’ experience (or more) working specifically on this kind of law
- They offer a free consultation, and they will do it in person at their office or a location convenient for you
- They listen to you, remember the details you give them, and pay attention to you when you speak
- They understand the kind of injury you have
- They seem to take you seriously and care about your pain, not just the money
Have you been injured? John Foy & Associates offers a free consultation with some of the most experienced and respected personal injury lawyers in Georgia. Fill out the form to your right or call us at 404-400-4000 to get your FREE consultation today.