After a motor vehicle accident, victims of the collision typically have many questions. One of the most frequent is, “Do I need a car accident lawyer or can I handle the claim on my own?”
The answer depends on a variety of factors, including how the accident happened and if you were hurt as a result. If you weren’t hurt, then the answer is likely no. If you were injured, then the answer is likely yes.
TV commercials and billboard advertisements by personal injury attorneys may make you think that anyone involved in a car accident needs a lawyer. While this is true in many cases, there are times when you can likely handle the claim on your own.
Before we jump into when you should get an attorney, let’s review when you may not need to hire an attorney.
When Do I Not Need an Attorney?
In general, auto accident claims can usually be handled effectively on your own through the insurance company when:
- The accident was a fender-bender
- Property damage is minimal, and
- The collision did not cause any injuries or deaths
In this case, recovery amounts for property damage are fairly straightforward.
Generally, the insurance company will look for comparable vehicles to determine the fair market value of yours. And, usually, that leads to an offer of the market value of your vehicle.
To cross-check this, you can look at other comparable vehicles using Kelley Blue Book. The four largest factors considered are year, make, model and mileage.
If you feel that the offer from the insurance company is well below the fair market value of your vehicle, then you may want to consult with an attorney.
When Should I Hire A Car Accident Attorney?
Personal injury and wrongful death claims are a completely different matter than property damage claims. When personal injuries or death are an outcome of the accident, there are expenses and additional factors beyond property damage that can add a high level of complexity, time and stress in resolving the claim.
It's Likely In Your Interest To Hire An Attorney If...
- You have suffered personal injury
- And/or wrongful death
For many injured victims of auto accidents, property damage is just the beginning of expenses incurred after an accident. You might soon find yourself facing large medical bills, an inability to work due to injuries, and have a lower quality of life while you’re recovering — maybe even permanently.
Many people don’t consult an attorney initially because they believe that the insurance company will fairly cover their vehicle repairs or total loss, medical bills, and lost time from work.
But, ssomething people may not realize is that once the insurance company is notified of an accident, they start working to devalue your claim immediately. Insurance adjusters are actually trained to minimize the amounts that the insurance company pays out to claimants. In fact, they are trained to ask seemingly harmless questions that may result in evidence to devalue your claim.
Unfortunately, auto accident victims who are not represented by an attorney can make serious mistakes when talking with insurance adjusters — again, because they are trained to ask questions in specific ways to get answers that may undermine your ability to recover compensation. Additionally, insurance adjusters likely won’t explain that you may be entitled to compensation for medical bills, future medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Around 85% of all money paid out by insurance companies for bodily injury claims goes to clients who hired an attorney.
In addition to higher recovery amounts, the stress and time involved will no longer be on your plate. Your only worry should be healing and rebuilding. Let your car accident attorney deal with the insurance companies.
Frankly, in many cases, you could lose out on compensation if you do not have legal representation. A reputable car accident lawyer can be very helpful in dealing with insurance companies and the chaos that can stem from auto insurance claims. Negotiating involves a lot of work. Attorneys who focus on auto accident personal injury cases are adept at handling these types of negotiations.
A trusted personal injury lawyer is your advocate against the insurance companies, keeping your best interests at the forefront of his/her work.
If injuries or death are involved, it is worth it to at least consult with a knowledgeable auto accident lawyer. A car accident attorney can evaluate your case, answer your questions, and inform you of your legal rights and options.
You can certainly settle your personal injury or wrongful death claim without a lawyer. The auto insurance company would prefer it. But, an experienced auto accident attorney can ensure that you understand your legal rights and options, protect your rights, and protect you from unfair settlement offers from the insurance company.
If at any point you feel uncomfortable handling your own claim, then it’s definitely time to seek legal representation.
What About Attorney’s Fees?
Now that you know when it is advised to contact an attorney, you may be wondering how attorney fees would impact your bottom line. Don’t personal injury lawyers charge fees?
Yes – most personal injury attorneys who handle auto accident cases charge a contingency fee. This means that clients are charged a percentage of the amounts that the attorney recovers for them. When hiring a personal injury attorney, you should confirm that the attorney works on a contingency fee basis and clarify what the fee (or fee structure) is.
At most personal injury firms, the “standard” contingency fee is 33.33% (or one-third) and can reach above 40% on a sliding fee structure.
At Baskerville Law LLC, we charge a competitive contingency fee for one simple reason:
We believe that our clients should receive as much of their settlement or award as possible.
Considering the Fee, is Hiring an Attorney Worth it?
Hiring an experienced personal injury lawyer with a solid track record of success with auto accident cases will almost invariably put more money in your pocket than you would receive by handling the case yourself – even after fees are paid out of the settlement or award.
Consider These Statistics
– Settlements for personal injury victims are approximately 40% higher when represented by an attorney
– 85% of all money paid out by insurance companies for bodily injury claims goes to clients who hired an attorney
Call Our Trusted Albuquerque Car Accident Lawyer
If you were injured in a car accident in New Mexico, a personal injury attorney can preserve your rights to fair compensation for injuries sustained from the accident and help you to achieve financial recovery.
More importantly, while your attorney is working hard to represent you, you can focus on your recovery.
At Baskerville Law LLC, we offer complimentary auto accident injury consultations so that cost doesn’t get in the way of you seeking legal help.
Ready to schedule a consultation? Call us at 505-247-2774 or complete the consultation request form at the bottom of this page.