An important decision you will need to make if you were hurt in a car crash is whether to represent yourself in negotiations with the negligent driver’s insurance company. You may be thinking that you could save a significant amount of money by not hiring an attorney. However, in most cases, you would be actually costing yourself more money in the long run.
Can You Ever Represent Yourself in Settling Your Car Accident Case?
In limited circumstances, you may not need an attorney to help you settle your claim with the insurance company. You may be able to handle your case in these situations:
Your injuries are minor, such as small cuts or bruises or injuries requiring a few stitches.
The insurance company admits liability and your injuries are not serious.
You only suffered damages to your vehicle.
An attorney will not take your case because you do not have a strong claim.
It is still a good idea to take advantage of the free consultation most experienced car accident attorneys offer before agreeing to a settlement. Why? If the insurance company is offering to settle your case quickly, it could be a warning sign that you are entitled to more compensation than you think. The insurance adjuster may be trying to get you to settle before you have time to get advice from an attorney.
In addition, once you settle your claim, it is over. You cannot reopen it if you later discover you were injured more seriously or that you did not receive a fair settlement. Consulting with an attorney can ensure that you are receiving what you deserve and that you are not waiving important legal rights.
When You Should Retain an Attorney to Do the Negotiating for You
In most cases, you are better off hiring an attorney rather than trying to represent yourself. If any of these situations apply to you, you will want to retain an attorney:
Liability is in dispute. If the insurance adjuster is disputing who was at fault in causing the crash or claiming you were partially liable in causing it, you need an attorney who is experienced in fighting these arguments. Otherwise your claim will be denied or reduced.
Injuries are severe. When the injuries are serious or someone was killed, you need an attorney who understands all the types of compensation you could be entitled to and how much your case is really worth. If you represent yourself, you could easily be tricked into settling for way less than you are really entitled to.
A lawsuit must be filed. If the insurance company denies your claim or does not agree to a fair settlement, you will need to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver. The procedures and laws governing these cases—including the time limit to sue—can be complex. Without an attorney, you would be at a serious disadvantage and could have your case dismissed for failing to comply with the procedural rules.
You had a pre–existing injury. If you had a pre-existing injury to the same part of your body hurt in the crash, this will almost always complicate your claim. The insurance adjuster will try to argue that this prior incident—and not the accident—caused your injuries. An experienced attorney will have strategies to defeat these arguments.
Multiple parties were injured. If multiple parties were injured in the accident, there are more people making claims. You need an attorney who will aggressively pursue your right to the compensation you deserve given all the other parties who may also be entitled to damages.
Expert witnesses must be hired. In some cases, you may need to hire an accident reconstruction expert to establish how the accident occurred or an expert such as a vocational or economic expert to determine your future lost wages if you suffered serious injuries that resulted in your permanent disability. An attorney will have qualified experts he has worked with in the past that he can refer you to.
Find Out Why Hiring David Brauns Is Right for You
These are just some of the reasons why hiring an attorney is almost always a better decision than negotiating with the negligent driver’s insurance company on your own. If you hire David Brauns, you would get the added benefit of having an attorney who has worked on both sides of the aisle representing you. He began his legal career defending insurance companies in these cases and understands their tactics for denying and reducing victims’ claims—and has strategies to fight against them. If you or a family member were injured in a car wreck, call our office at (404) 998-5252 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with David.
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