Do You Need an Accident Attorney for a Minor Car Accident?

At what point should you switch from handling the claim yourself to retaining the services of an accident attorney? At the end of the day, you will probably need to break out the math to make that decision.

How Accident Attorney Fee Structures Work

At Thompson Traffic Lawyers, we define a minor accident as one that involves less than $1500 in damage to your car. We also consider less than $3000 in medical bills a minor accident.

At these levels, it is probably not worth it to hire an accident attorney. The attorney fees would most likely consume any additional amount you get. In minor cases, the attorney fees might even be more than the compensation increase, leaving you with less than if you would have worked with the insurance company on your own.

Hiring an accident attorney to work with the insurance adjuster usually runs between 20% and 40% of the total settlement. This percentage depends both on the firm and whether or not they need to take the case to court. (Minor accidents almost never need to go to court.)

When to Hire an Accident Attorney

In a minor accident, it’s up to you to decide whether giving up that cut for the lawyer is worth whatever extra you may get. Many accident firms offer free consultations so you can know ahead of time how much more you are likely to receive if you hire them. In minor cases, it’s often not worth it.

There are no hard and fast rules to help you with the decision. To help, we put together a list of cases that frequently benefit from having a lawyer handle things for you.

• Your medical bills exceed $5,000
• An ambulance takes you from the scene of the accident to the hospital
• Your injuries seem to be getting worse
• You are in more pain than what you felt immediately after the accident
• You don’t have medical insurance
• You can’t find a doctor to treat you
• Your vehicle is totaled
• Vehicle repairs exceed $5,000

If any of the above apply to you, it would be smart to consult with an attorney to see if they can help.

How to Handle the Claim on Your Own

In minor car accidents, getting the vehicle repaired is usually concern number one.

To get your car fixed as fast as possible, call the insurance adjuster of the “at fault” driver. So you’d call your own insurance company if the accident was your fault. You would call the other driver’s insurance company if it were their fault.  Insurance adjusters (in our experience) usually do a great job of getting your car fixed fast. Hiring an attorney for this part is not necessarily helpful in this case.  The insurance adjuster will walk you through the process of getting your car back into driving shape.

If you suffered any injuries, the insurance company of the “at fault” driver will also help you sort that out. Look for the help with the following, if any apply:

• Current medical bills
• Future medical bills
• Pain and suffering damages
• Loss of income due to missing work

Do you have to hire a lawyer by a certain point in the claims process?

You can hire a lawyer at any point while working with a claims adjuster.  The cut off is when you sign a release or settlement with the insurance company.  If your injuries start to get worse or you think the settlement the insurance company is offering you seems unfair, you can take it to an attorney for review.

Does your settlement on a minor accident seem low? Give Thomas Traffic Lawyers a call at (702) 383-6040.