Do I Need an Attorney After a Minor Car Accident?
Lots of people get into accidents. Most of them are minor, with a little body damage to the car and a bump on the head for the occupant. Should you make a police report and hire a personal injury attorney? It doesn’t seem necessary. Your injury was hardly noticeable, and the body damage is easy to repair. Why bother with an attorney?
Loewy Law Firm believes it is a good idea to talk to a personal injury attorney even after minor car accidents. If you do not contact an attorney, can you be sure the other driver also did not do so? This can be important. If the other driver was injured and hires an attorney who begins to collect information about the accident, they will no doubt work to find ways to show that you were at fault for the accident. You may find yourself at a distinct disadvantage if and when the matter goes to court.
We recommend you protect yourself legally at all times. You cannot know what the other driver will do, so call us at (512) 280-0800 for a free consultation. We are experienced with both minor and major car accidents, and we can help you determine what is required legally to protect you.
Even if your injuries seem minor, they may change over time and begin to cause you more disability and pain. Soft tissue injuries, such as neck injuries, headaches, muscle spasms, shoulder and arm tenderness and pain, and even unexplained fatigue can all be the result of a car accident that seemed minor at first but grew increasingly debilitating. What’s more, soft tissue injuries are difficult to diagnose and treat. They can require lots of therapy to manage the pain, improve movement, and heal.
The most important reasons to hire an attorney after even a minor accident are your legal and reporting responsibilities. You also may find yourself dealing with other insurance companies and may be questioned by the opposing insurance adjuster. Your own law firm will guide you through these and other problematic situations and keep your legal interests well-protected.
The four basic things to do after a minor traffic accident are:
- Exchange all relevant information, including insurance information like the company name, policy number, and who the insurance covers.
- Get a precise address for the accident, including the intersection, address, and directions you and the other motorist were traveling.
- Get photos of all damage to every car involved in the accident and of any visible injuries.
- If you or a passenger have an injury, even a minor one, get it checked out as soon as possible. If the medical person who checks out the injury is concerned about severity, contact a personal injury lawyer from Loewy Law Firm right away. Some injuries, like neck and back injuries, are hidden and may not show symptoms for days after the accident.
Attorneys are aware of the potential pitfalls of getting into a minor traffic accident. The best way to look at it is to realize from the moment of impact, you and the other driver are in an adversarial relationship, and your attorney can help you manage that relationship:
- Do not leave the scene of the accident, even if it is minor, without reporting the accident to the police. Any police report can be used in a court proceeding to determine fault.
- Do not admit fault to anyone at the scene of the accident. An accident can be stressful, and sometimes, we want to engage the other driver in conversation. But the fact is you cannot determine conclusively who is at fault and what precisely happened in the accident. Be polite and helpful, but limit the conversation to names, contact information, and the exchange of insurance information. There is no need to discuss the accident at all. Fault will be determined by your attorney, the insurance companies involved, and the police.
- Be sure to see a doctor as soon as possible if you believe you could have a significant injury. Attributing any injury to the traffic accident requires the doctor to diagnose the injury and rule out any other contributing factors not relevant to the crash.
- Insurance companies will determine fault and compensation relevant to the accident. It is important to understand how insurance companies work. They want to retain as much money as they can and pay out as little as possible in claims. Their agenda is to minimize any money paid to the injured party in the crash. Keep this in mind in any encounter with a claims adjuster or in any correspondence from the opposing insurer. It is always best to let your attorney manage the relationship with the opponent.
- It is important to closely review the police report to verify that all the information you gave the authorities is in the report and that the account of the accident is complete and makes sense. If there is a problem with information in the police report, your attorney can help make any changes to the report before you sign it.
- The insurance company will often make a first, low offer of compensation. They will frame it as a convenience for you when it is really just a way to minimize any payout to the smallest amount of money you are likely to accept. Never take the first offer and always allow your attorney to negotiate with the opposing insurance company.
- Many people will try to settle their own case because they think the accident was minor and they do not need to get an attorney involved. However, settlement checks are on average three times larger for even minor accidents if you hire a personal injury attorney to represent you.
At the Loewy Law Firm, we work on a contingency basis. That means you won’t owe us any money upfront, and we will take our payment after we get compensation for you. If we don’t get you any money, you owe us nothing.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident that wasn’t your fault, call us. We offer a free consultation to discuss your options at (512) 280-0800.