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Is it worth it to get a car accident lawyer?

After someone has been involved in a car accident, a frequently asked question is "it is worth it to get a car accident lawyer." Although it really depends on the type of case that is involved and the extent of the injuries someone has sustained, in any serious accident case it is absolutely worth it to have a car accident lawyer. If a case just involves some property damage and limited or no injuries, then you will probably not need a car accident lawyer. 

So how do you decide if it is worth it to hire an accident attorney? Let's look at the ins and outs of accident cases for a better answer.

Why do you need an accident lawyer in the first place?

After a car accident happens, insurance companies quickly assign claim representatives to a case whose job is to interview witnesses, talk to the insured or other injured parties, collect evidence, obtain medical records, and then evaluate a case to attempt settlement. Remember when a claim representative is doing this, they are working for the insurance company, not the insured or injured party. 

When an accident lawyer is hired, they do almost the same thing as the claim representative, but for the victim of the accident. Accident attorneys will interview witnesses, collect evidence, document an accident scene through pictures and videos, obtain medical records, and then can evaluate a case for settlement. One important difference is that the accident attorney works to maximize a settlement while a claim representative works to minimize a settlement. This makes sense because the insurance company makes money by keeping your premiums in their pocket instead of paying them out on claims!

How an accident attorney can be a first line of defense

An accident lawyer can actually act as a first line of defense in dealing with an insurance agent when there are significant injuries involved. As soon as a claim representative receives what we call a "notice of representation letter," they are no longer allowed to contact the injury victim directly. This can give the injured party a chance to fully assess what is happening and whether they will need the help of a lawyer. When there are significant injuries such as broken bones, severe bruising or bleeding, or even paralysis that was caused by an accident, it can take months to years for an injured party to know the full extent of their injuries. 

Most people want to believe that their injuries are not that severe and they think that some rest will resolve everything. This is especially true in a soft-tissue injury case where muscle strains and sprains to ligaments seem to be minor at first. What happens in a case like this is that someone dealing with an insurance claim representative might be happy to settle a case for a few hundred dollars and the cost to repair their vehicle. However, once a release is signed, the insurance company does not have to pay a penny more to you even if you discover that your injuries require additional treatment, therapy or surgery. We should repeat that, once a release is signed, the insurance company will not pay anything more to you.

Any good attorney knows this so they always advise their clients to work through medical treatment before attempting to resolve a case. 

When to know that you need an accident attorney

If you have any of the following, then it is a good idea to talk to an attorney before settling a case:
  • You were transported from the scene of the accident in an ambulance
  • You have significant injuries that required MRIs, CAT Scans, or a series of x-rays
  • You have been prescribed physical therapy to recover from the accident
  • You have more than $3,000 in medical bills
  • You think your injuries could be permanent
  • You have lost a significant amount of time at work (more than a day or two) due to your injuries
  • Your pain will not go away
  • The insurance company has offered you an extremely small amount to settle
Cases when you probably do not need a car accident lawyer

Examples of cases where a car accident lawyer is not as useful include:
  • You do not have any injuries
  • You were in a minor fender bender with minimal damages to your vehicle
  • The insurance company has made a reasonable offer to you
  • You had very limited medical treatment
How to figure out if you need a car accident lawyer

One of the easiest ways to figure out if you need a car accident lawyer is to call one and run through your case with them. Almost all accident lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means there is no charge to handle the case if they cannot recover anything. They also typically offer free consultations. The reason is so that you can ask questions and get an understanding as to whether you need help. Our recommendation is that before you sign anything your insurance company sends you after an accident, talk to a lawyer first. 

Get help with your San Diego Car Accident Case today

Rist Law Office has been handling serious car accident cases for over 15 years. We have recovered millions of dollars for our clients and have resolved thousands of cases. Put our experience to work for you by calling (619) 377-4660 or request a free consultation here. Our office does not charge anything to talk to a car accident victim about your case. We will run through all facts of your case and can discuss whether it is worth it for you to get a car accident lawyer. 
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