You were in a car wreck two weeks ago, t-boned by a young lady who missed a stop sign at the intersection. You didn’t break any bones but your neck still hurts. X-rays were negative and the doctor prescribed physical therapy, which seems to be helping a little.
The insurance adjuster for the young lady’s insurance company has been pleasant and understanding. She already sent a check for the fair value of your totaled car and coordinated a rental before that. But now, she keeps asking if you’re okay, and she’s offered a settlement in the amount of $1,500 for your injuries.
Do you need a car accident lawyer?
You might be surprised to hear that the answer is MAYBE.
As a rule of thumb, you never want to consider settlement if you’re still hurt and still receiving medical treatment. NEVER. In this situation, you simply don’t know the extent of your injuries and you don’t know whether physical therapy will heal you. You might have a ruptured disc that doesn’t show on an X-ray. You might have soft tissue damage that won’t heal for two years.
Situation in which you should feel confidant resolving your claim on your own:
You are completely healed, and feel 100% back to normal;
The insurance company has paid a fair price for your totaled car; and
The insurance company has offered you a settlement that 1) covers your medical bills, 2) compensates you for pain and suffering, 3) reimburses you for lost wages and other out-of-pocket expenses, and 4) is overall FAIR.
Situation in which you should allow a Personal Injury Attorney to get you the best deal:
You’re still feeling the effects of the crash;
Your injury turns out to be more severe and requires follow-up care, injections, possible surgery;
Medical and out-of-pocket expenses are piling up;
The insurance company’s offer is totally inadequate; or
The insurance company’s offer seems fair but you’re not sure.
If even one of these conditions exist, you should probably hire an attorney who has experience dealing with car accidents. In the vast majority of cases, the lawyer will be able to get much more from the insurance company than they’re willing to offer you without a lawyer. By virtue of his training and experience, a seasoned attorney understands the value of a case, and the insurance company knows that. Thus, they can’t try to slide an unfair settlement offer past him.
Beyond that, the attorney will guide you through the medical treatment process, help you understand the nuances of health insurance reimbursement, and will make sure you’re compensated fairly for all your losses.