If you are in a car wreck, when should you hire a lawyer? If the accident is your fault, the answer is simple. Report your claim to your automobile insurance company and they will hire a lawyer for you. Do this as soon as possible. If you believe that the other driver is at fault, then there are some other factors involved.
Car Damage Only
If you were not injured and only suffered damage to your car, you typically can resolve the claim with the other driver’s insurance company yourself. In cases where repairs are required, you will want to get estimates from three reputable garages as soon as you can and provide them to the insurance company. The other insurance company should provide you with a rental, but typically will try to provide it for as little time as possible. As a result, act as quickly as you can. You may also be able to recover the diminished value that your car suffered as a result of the accident, but you will need some proof of this diminished value like a statement from a car dealership or a report from a diminished value expert.
If your car has been totaled, then you will want to gather information on comparable cars from services such as Edmunds.Com, Kelly Blue Book and NADA. You can also find similar cars for sale online and use these as “comparables.” You can also hire companies that will help you by providing an appraisal.
Injury claims are more complicated. You can resolve a minor injury claim yourself, but need to make sure that you take into account any amounts that have been paid by your insurance or Medicare that you will have to reimburse, any medical bills that you have already paid, and any future medical bills. You will also want to make sure that your injury is not more serious than you initially believe. For this reason, it is usually not a good idea to agree to quick settlements with the insurance company.
If your injury is serious and the other party is at fault, then you should see a lawyer due to the complicated medical, insurance, and proof problems that are involved. While you will have to pay an attorney’s fee, the fee probably will be justified by a higher settlement and by not having to worry about repaying health care providers, insurance companies, and Medicare. Of course, we have handled quite a few of these cases here at Johnstone Carroll and are always happy to help.