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You’ve seen the ads on television telling you to call an injury attorney if you’ve been injured in an accident and not to wait or you may lose your right to sue. The ads don’t usually specify under what circumstances you should do so or how much time you have. Here’s help in determining whether or not an auto accident attorney is advisable or necessary.
The simplest, most clear-cut claims really don’t require an attorney’s assistance. The simplicity lies in: a) clarity of liability (for example, the other guy was clearly at fault and acknowledges it); and/or b) injuries are minor with low medical bills and other expenses; and/or c) there are no extenuating circumstances requiring investigation, such as previously existing injuries to the same body parts, complicated scenario in the accident, uncertainties about coverage, or questions about the statute of limitations (the legal deadline for filing a lawsuit against the responsible party). You may not know these things right away. That’s why many injured claimants start out handling their own claim, only to hire the services of an attorney later.
It would be prudent to at least seek advice from an auto accident attorney when:
Liability is not clear or is shared between or among the parties.
You have no idea how to evaluate your claim.
The adjuster has asked you to provide medical records from prior to the accident.
The adjuster has made you an offer and you think your claim is worth a great deal more.
The adjuster is offering a structured settlement rather than a lump sum payment.
You are not confident in your ability to negotiate a settlement on your own behalf.
You have a claim of lost wages that is difficult to prove—for example, you are a consultant, a business owner, a sales person, etc.
It is imperative that you consult an auto accident attorney when:
There are extenuating circumstances that make your claim more valuable and you don’t know how to prove your loss (for example, you’re a caregiver and can no longer take care of your husband or sick mother).
The insurance company has denied your claim, you believe they are incorrect in their denial, and they will not reconsider.
The insurance company’s settlement offer is too low.
You are seriously injured with significant medical bills with or without residual disability.
You are moderately injured with residual disability and will incur future medical bills.
The injured party is a minor with more than slight injuries.
Liability is being disputed and you believe you are not responsible or are only partially responsible for the accident.
It’s been almost a year since your accident, you’re not close to settling your claim, and you don’t know what the statute of limitations is in your state.
The circumstances surrounding the accident are complex and may require expert investigation.
The other party to the accident has served you with a lawsuit.
If yours is not a clear-cut case, be sure to consult with an attorney before speaking to an insurance adjuster. Doing so will save you from making statements to the adjuster that may be damaging to your claim, statements that you may later regret.