Do you need a lawyer after a wreck?

Do you need a lawyer after a wreck?

Posted by Ben Baker on Jun 27th 2016

Accident attorneys say they should be the second person you call after a wreck. The first is 911 (or the equivalent) to get law enforcement and medical help on the way.

Do you really need to have an attorney represent you after a crash?

The short answer is no.

“You don't need a lawyer to help with routine car accident claims, if you take a little time to educate yourself about the claims system. The key is to figure out which cases you can settle yourself, and which require a lawyer,” says an article at the respected legal information website Nolo. The article has five excellent points to consider.

That’s backed up by another legal information website. AllLaw says you can negotiate a settlement on your own. The article takes you through the steps to settle with the other person’s insurance company.

Both places say handling a very simple case is probably within anyone’s ability. Are you willing to do all that work? If so, go for it. If not, get a lawyer.

Things get trickier when the crash gets messier.

So, the mid-length answer is yes. If you land in the hospital and have high medical bills, you need legal help. If the other side hires a lawyer and threatens to sue, you need legal help.

The long answer is, it depends. Here’s a look at some of the “it depends” items.

Understand the claims process

You need to sit down and read your insurance policy before a crash. Boring, yes. Necessary, yes. If you don’t understand something in it, talk to your agent and get it explained. If you think your insurance needs something and it’s not part of the policy, ask. If it can’t be included, ask why. Shop for a policy that does provide everything you want.

Read the other driver’s policy

Find out what’s in the other person’s policy Every insurance company offers slightly different policies. If you can’t understand it, call your agent. Ask him to explain what the other policy does. Since you were in a wreck, your agent should be willing to help.

Assess the situation

This is the most important step. You have to know what you are getting into and what you are already in.

Lawyers prefer to go after insurance companies. The chance of getting paid with a settlement is much greater than going after an individual. If the other person does not have insurance, you need a lawyer. If the other person has insurance, look at how much loss you took. Minor amounts and little to no injuries, you don’t need a lawyer.

If you have a lot of bills, missed more than a day or two of work, you probably need legal help.

If your own insurance company is arguing with you, having an attorney represent you is a good idea.

Talk it over with other riders, especially those who were in a wreck.

One last thought. If you’re not sure if you need an attorney or not, call one. Nearly all accident attorneys offer a free consultation. Expect the lawyer to say you do need legal representation. It’s their job after all and they do want to make money.

If you agree to hire one, they should agree to work for a percentage of your settlement. How much varies, but one thing is constant in this kind of contract, if you don’t get money, they don’t get paid.

If the attorney wants a guaranteed fee, think twice about hiring him. A guaranteed fee, which you have to pay if you don’t win the case, means the attorney is not confident he can win the case.

Recommended reading:

What To Do After A Motorcycle Accident

Pros and cons of riding

The Safest and Most Dangerous Cities for Motorcycle Riding