The question is often asked:  “I was just in a car accident, do I need a lawyer?”

Not every claim which you are considering against another party requires an attorney. The underlying facts of your particular circumstances will really determine when you need to involve the services of an attorney. For instance, if you are involved in an automobile accident which was not your fault and but did not sustain any injuries, then you may be successful in handling the claim without an attorney.  However, if you were injured, you will be best served by consulting with an personal injury attorney.

After the accident, the first thing to do is obtain as much information as possible regarding the other driver, the vehicle and the circumstances.  If possible get photos that document the damage to each vehicle.  At some point following the collision, insurance adjusters for each driver involved will contact you to obtain information about your claim, including your property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and medical records. Remember that the adjusters are there to evaluate whether a claim should be paid.  Although you should be honest, you must remember that any information that you provide especially statements, may complicate the process of settling your claim. Frequently, the insurance adjuster is seeking to prove your fault or diminish the value of your claim. In such instances, your best course of action is to retain an attorney before you speak with anyone regarding the circumstances of the collision. Even when fault is clearly placed on the other driver, adjusters may attempt to “low ball” you with an offer that is not fair for the injuries and damages you have suffered.

Another consideration regarding the decision to involve an attorney relates to the amount or availability of insurance coverage to pay your damages. If the person who has injured you (in a car accident or otherwise) has multiple types of insurance and policies, it is not always easy to discover that information. The person might have insurance with separate companies which the adjuster with whom you are negotiating is not aware.  An attorney will be able to discover this information and help level the playing field.

If you did not get injured, or if you suffer minimal injury or damages, it is frequently not worth getting an attorney involved.   You should not go to an attorney with the hope or thought that he will make your damages higher by helping you get unnecessary medical treatment from “plaintiff friendly” doctors. These types of claims not only cost you more in the long run, but also slow down the judicial system.

This does not mean that you should not get thoroughly checked out by your physician following an accident. If you are unsure whether you are injured you should consult with a medical provider for an evaluation.  Be honest with them and do not downplay or exaggerate your injuries.Sometimes injuries which at first seem minor, develop into serious life altering conditions. Do not assume that just because you are able to leave the site of any accident (automobile or other), that you are medically o.k. Get your own doctor to perform a thorough examination.

Contact the Law office of Sean M. Patrick for a free no obligation consultation for any of your personal injury claims.