A car accident can be a scary thing. Aside from being shaken up, there are likely car repairs to be done, and there could also be an injury to yourself, the other driver, passengers or even bystanders. However, if that recent accident was more of a small fender-bender than anything serious, you may be wondering if there’s anything else you need to do. Sure, a debilitating injury may require the services of a car accident lawyer, but what if there was no injury? What should you do?
The good news is that you don’t have to go it alone. Whether you’ve been injured or not, you’re always free to contact a car accident lawyer for property damage, or even to discuss your next steps after a non-injury car accident. But just because you don’t feel that injury today doesn’t mean that you won’t come down with some kind of injury after the adrenaline dies down and those nagging injuries start to surface.
When To Get an Attorney for a Car Accident
In most states, any accident that results in death, injury or significant property damage will be investigated at the scene of the crime by the responding officer, as well as insurance agents and any services retained by anyone party to the accident. In order to protect your rights, it’s important to retain an attorney if anyone has been injured. Even if it’s someone in the other car or a bystander, you may be held legally liable if you don’t retain counsel to help fight for your rights.
Furthermore, while your insurance company may seem like they’re on your side, they’re actually more against paying out an award than actually getting to the bottom of the case. In some instances, they may even ask you to sign away your legal rights in the form of tedious paperwork, thereby reducing your ability to claim an award — or deflect responsibility — down the line. That said, most insurance companies will conduct their investigation by the book and a car accident lawyer may be overkill if there was no injury that resulted from the accident.
When You May Not Need an Attorney
If you’ve been in a recent auto accident and no injuries occurred, you likely won’t need a lawyer to take your case. That doesn’t mean you can’t retain one, but as long as you’re sure that no injuries have been sustained and you’ve given it a few days from the injury for any lingering injuries to develop, hiring an attorney could be a waste of time since there would be no personal injury claim. And without a claim and some kind of potential for a return, you’ll be spending money on a lawyer without the prospect of an award.
However, to be sure that you’re not dealing with an injury of some sort, it’s always a good idea to seek medical attention for each passenger following a recent car accident. Doctors and nurses can help find injuries that you may not know about yet, and they can also give you that all-important clean bill of health if there are truly no injuries to worry about. For many drivers, this is the most important step. Getting the all-okay from a medical provider is a big step towards not needing a car accident lawyer after that no-injury accident.
Whether you’ve been injured or not in a recent car accident, hiring a lawyer should only be done if there’s a legitimate claim and the potential for an award that exceeds the cost of hiring an attorney. A non-injury accident report won’t do you any favors, but an accident featuring two expensive, late-model vehicles could be grounds for some kind of property claim if your insurance is giving you the run-around. That said, it’s important to weigh the upside of a successful suit against the cost of bringing a suit, particularly if injuries are slight and property damage is minor.
When To Speak With a Car Accident Lawyer
In many instances, it makes sense to speak with a car accident lawyer, whether injuries occurred or not, before reaching out to your insurance company. That’s because insurance companies are often looking to reduce their payouts after a recent accident, especially if significant damage has taken place. It’s the job of the insurance adjuster to try and reduce that payment while it’s your job to look out for your rights.
But if there are any broken bones or hospital stays to account for, as well as missed work or pain and suffering as a result of that accident, you may want to retain a lawyer sooner rather than later. Or, if you’re unclear what damages you may be legally eligible to collect, a car accident lawyer can help you estimate your future medical costs, lost wages and punitive damages to give you an idea of your options.
If you haven’t filed an accident report and an officer never arrived at the scene to take the details down, it can be even more important to retain a car accident lawyer after a no-injury accident. Not only can you receive a traffic violation for neglecting to report the accident, which could mean court appearances and community service, but the lack of a report means there’s no documentation of what happened, and that can leave you open to legal liability if the other party decides to initiate legal proceedings.
Even minor accidents should be reported to the authorities since the other party could claim that the accident never happened or that you were actually at fault, which can quickly become complicated if they claim injuries at some point after the accident. Additionally, your injuries may develop over time, so just because you feel fine immediately after the accident or the day of, that’s not to say that you won’t develop more severe medical problems days or weeks after the accident.
When Hiring an Attorney May Not Be Worth It
All that said, hiring a car accident lawyer after a no-injury accident may not be worth it if the accident was your fault. After all, if you were deemed to be at fault at the scene of the accident by the responding officer, you would also assume fault and liability, and no lawyer would be able to help you recover some kind of personal injury claim.
It’s also not worth hiring an attorney if the injuries suffered were superficial or minor. Injuries that don’t require hospitalization or treatment are incapable of generating those large personal injury awards that make retaining a lawyer worthwhile. In this instance, it may be best to work with your insurance company to settle a minor case such as this.
On the other hand, any car accident that features significant injuries will likely need the involvement of a lawyer due to medical bills, lost wages and other issues.
If you’ve been in a recent car accident, we’ll help you get that important accident report and help you decide whether you need the services of an attorney. Contact us today or request your accident report to get started.