The simple answer to this question is, “yes.” Is that advisable? Well, that will depend on the big picture. For instance, for some minor fender benders, there is really no need for an attorney. The two parties can easily work out the details and repairs between them. If, however, there are injuries and/or major damage, it would be advised that you seek the advice of an car accident injury attorney to ensure you receive everything you have coming to you.
While you always have a legal right to represent yourself in court and settle a car accident claim without hiring a local car accident lawyer, this is not the best idea in most cases since it will lower your overall chances of getting the highest settlement amount for an auto accident lawsuit claim.
A free accident claim quote online will also immediately provide local expert legal help at no cost for what to do after a car accident with or without an attorney, and what to expect when you file a claim with your insurance company on your own.
We should also note that if you are the plaintiff in the case, your auto accident injury consultation is free of charge. Additionally, your case will more than likely be worked on a commission basis, so there is no worry of breaking the bank account to secure legal representation.
Your Options after a Car Accident
As noted above, if this is just a minor accident, you can more than likely exchange information with the other driver and work out the details amongst yourselves. However, we strongly recommend that you have the police file a report just in case the other driver decides to back out of your deal for some reason.
If you are dealing with another insurance company, NEVER accept the first offer unless, and this is very likely, it covers your costs in full. In 99/100 cases, the insurance company will lowball an offer hoping to get out of this as cheaply as possible. If you are unsure of all your costs, and this would include any time lost at work due to injuries sustained in the accident, you could wind up on the short end of the stick.
If you are struggling with the insurance company and feel they are not offering a fair settlement, then it would be time to secure the services of an attorney. In many cases today, local pro bono attorneys for auto collision claims are also available to provide free legal help to file an accident claim lawsuit in your jurisdiction.
When Not to Settle on Your Own
There are some cases where you should never consider settling on your own. These would be:
- Accidents creating substantial hardships
- Accidents with excessive medical bills
- Accidents involving trucks
- DUI accidents
- Accidents involving commercial vehicles
- Motorcycle accidents
When you have substantial hardships and/or excessive medical bills, chances are there are going to be future costs that need to be recovered as well as your current bills. Personal injury attorneys are very skilled at formulating a fair settlement amount that will have you recover exactly what you are entitled to rather than finding out in five years the settlement you negotiated was not enough.
Discovery in Personal Injury Lawsuits for a Car Crash Injury
In regard to the remaining types of accidents on that list, they will more than likely result in serious injuries, some of which may not be immediately apparent. There is something known as “discovery” in personal injury lawsuits that refers to the time when the injury was first discovered. Even if the time period has passed for when a suit can be filed, an injury that is discovered down the road would extend that filing deadline.
A personal injury attorney can explain this to you in more detail, but any settlement you agree upon with representation would take this into account.
Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents
Speaking of… every state has a statue of limitations on when a lawsuit can be filed. One of the first things you will want to do is research that statute in your state to ensure the suit is filed before that deadline. As noted above, each state will also have exceptions, such as an extended filing date for a minor if he or she does not have an adult that is capable of filing the suit on his or her behalf.
Something else to consider is ensuring that you have fully recovered before making your final settlement. This is key because some injuries, especially back-related injuries, can result in other injuries. If you make a settlement too early, you could wind up paying for injuries down the road that can be traced back to the accident.
Unable to Settle
As we mentioned above, if you are unable to reach a settlement with the at-fault drive or their insurance company, you will want to immediately reach out to a personal injury attorney specializing in auto accidents.
The NEVER and To-Do List
- Never settle before you are fully recovered
- Make sure you get a police report
- Never give a recorded statement without having consulted with your attorney
- Never take the first offer when negotiating on your own
- Keep an “accident kit” in your car, which should include a camera to document the accident scene (also keep a legal pad to interview possible witnesses, police officer information who reports to the scene, and all relevant license plate numbers)
To be honest, other than very minor accidents, we highly recommend that you seek counsel to handle your personal injury and/or accident case. Insurance companies have been at this a long time and they know every trick in the book, but so do experienced personal injury attorneys.
If you were recently in an auto accident and think you may need legal help, give us a call at 855-633-0888. Instead of trying to represent yourself attempting to learn the best way how to settle a car accident claim without a lawyer, let the expert local free Injury Law Rights offices help you get the most amount of claim settlement money you deserve.
Taryn J. White is a legal research specialist and Injury law news reporter. Her current accomplishments include helping those facing any injuries from vehicle accidents, workplace accidents, and medical malpractice.