I HAD A CAR ACCIDENT, BUT DO I REALLY NEED A LAWYER?

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Austin Law, P.C.

Birmingham, AL

Having a car accident is a traumatizing experience. No matter how major or minor the car accident, inevitably questions and concerns will begin to crash around in your already shell-shocked and weary mind. At some point, one of those questions will be, do I need a lawyer?

Whether or not you need a lawyer to help you navigate any uncertain terrain after your car accident will depend on the fact-specific circumstances of your case. However, there are a few considerations that may help you determine whether or not hiring a lawyer is right for your case and right for you.

First, who was at fault? If you weren’t at fault, you probably don’t need a lawyer. While not the final word in the at fault determination, traffic citations issued at the scene and the accident report can be used as evidence to determine who was at fault. If you weren’t at fault, you probably were not issued a traffic citation and the accident report hopefully reflects that you were not at fault. Get a copy of your accident report from the police department. Carefully review the accident report for any errors. If you spot any errors, contact the police department to correct the misinformation. This is important whether you are a pursuing a claim or defending against one.

Second, was anybody hurt? If you, the other party, and anyone else involved in the car accident were not physically injured, it probably isn’t worthwhile to hire a lawyer. Of course, after being involved in a car accident, it’s in your best interest to schedule an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible to make sure you have a clean bill of health. Even though it may initially appear as though you have no physical injuries stemming from the car accident, overtime the impact to your physical well-being may begin to manifest and become costly to treat. Waiting too long between the car accident and seeing a doctor for any physical symptoms you may be experiencing could raise questions as to whether your health issues were caused by the car accident.

Third, is it worth the money? If the damage to your car or the physical injury you suffered as a

result of the car accident were minor, hiring a lawyer may not be necessary. However, if

you did incur thousands of dollars in damages to your car or medical bills, you’ll want to

ask yourself whether the recovery you anticipate receiving will be substantially offset by

the portion that will be deducted by a lawyer to satisfy the contingency fee.

While most lawyers will accept car accident cases on a contingency fee basis, without you

having to pay any money upfront, the contingency fee will be taken out of any damages you

may be awarded. On average, most contingency fees are one-third of the damages. So

if your anticipated damages is $3,000 and one-third of that amount, $1000, goes to

the lawyer, you may want to bypass hiring a lawyer. In situations like these, you might

just want to settle.

Fourth, can you handle it? If you already are or have the time to become knowledge savvy on how insurance generally works, what your insurance policy provides, and the best way to pursue your claim or defend a claim against you, then suiting up with a lawyer may not be worth it. Chances are that if you arrive at the table armed with time, expert knowledge, and Denzel Washington confidence, you’ll avoid litigation and be negotiating a favorable settlement in no time. It’s a chance though, not a guarantee.

Fifth, have you consulted with a lawyer? Sometimes it’s hard to be objective about your own case. It never hurts to get a first, second, or third opinion from an objective third-party who isn’t a family member or friend. Generally, lawyers are more than willing to let you know whether your case is standing on strong legs, drowning in quicksand, or floating somewhere in between. And the honest ones will flat out tell you whether you need a lawyer or not. Most lawyers offer initial consultations for free or charge a nominal fee, so before making a final decision on hiring a lawyer to help with your car accident case, think about consulting with a lawyer. If you would like to talk with me about your car accident or have another legal question you want answered, feel free to reach out and contact me at 833-528-7846 or via email at: [email protected]

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