One of the most common questions we get is, ” Do I need a lawyer after a car accident if I have auto insurance?” And the truth is that it really depends on the accident and your injuries (if any). In fact, there are five things you should consider after an accident: 1. Whose fault was it? 2. How badly am I injured? 3. How bad was the damage to my car? 4. What will my insurance cover versus what the other parties’ insurance will cover? 5. Are you unsure about how to answer the previous questions? This last one is especially critical but let’s go over each of them in detail. At the end, we have a PDF you can download for personal use as well.

Do-you-need-a-lawyer-if-you-have-auto-insurance?

Do I need a lawyer if the car accident was my fault?

Obviously, who caused the accident (or whose fault it was) is extremely important to determine who will be responsible.

If the accident was the other driver’s fault, you are legally entitled to compensation for your injuries, medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and similar damages.  Determining who was at fault can sometimes be simple, like in a rear end accident.  But in other circumstances, disputes arise regarding who is at fault.  Disputes also arise over the extent of your injuries following the accident.  Most people don’t know how to correctly document, express, or advocate for the appropriate compensation they deserve following an accident.  That is why insurance companies will often contact people before they hire an attorney to quickly try and settle the case for as little as possible, hoping the person never hires an attorney.  If you want full and just compensation your injuries, hiring an experienced personal injury attorney is key.

Needing an attorney can get a little more complicated if you were at fault. Think of a car accident like tripping at a place of business. If you fall because of a dangerous condition caused by the business, then they are at fault and you can pursue compensation for your damages, injuries, etc. But if you tripped over your own shoelaces or the business is your own, then you yourself are responsible for the injury. Can you sue yourself if you are the cause of your injuries? Well, if you could – we’d likely be in court every week for both physical, mental and emotional injuries. So, short answer: no.  However, if you were injured in a car accident and it was your fault, you still might be entitled to compensation based on the type of insurance you have.  If you have “collision coverage,” your insurance company is required to repair your vehicle, even if you were at fault.  Similarly, some policies also provide for medical expenses even when you were at fault.  If you’re not sure if you have this coverage, contact your insurance agent or an attorney immediately.

So, when in doubt, it’s never a bad idea to talk to an attorney.

How bad are your injuries after the car accident?

This is a tricky question to answer because injuries are not necessarily present immediately after an accident. in fact, many injuries don’t really surface until sometime later. Therefore, if the accident is severe enough and you feel that there may be injuries, or the idea of possible injuries is present, then you should seek professional medical advice before determining whether or not you are injured. If you go to a lawyer who specializes in personal injury like we do, you will be referred to a doctor who specializes in these types of personal injuries.

Car accidents are immediate, but the physical consequences coming from them are not. This is why you likely need a lawyer after a car accident even if you already have insurance. This is especially true if you are unsure as to the strength or quality of both your insurance plan and your insurance carrier. You should keep in mind that auto insurance policies and auto insurance carriers are there in the event of a car accident and/or injury caused by car accidents. However, they are a business,  and although they will honor what they are obligated to honor by way of their agreements with you, it isn’t uncommon that they try to avoid paying out wherever possible, even when some of those payouts are legally binding. This is not to say that an insurance carrier will go beyond the letter of the law to free themselves from their obligation to you, but it is a consideration to have especially when realizing that paying out to everyone who submits a car accident claim is not a sound business plan. So ,when in doubt concerning an insurance policy or carrier, contact an attorney.  We can help you where they may fail to do so.

How bad was the damage to my car after the accident?

Per the CDI (California Department of Insurance):

“California law requires traffic accidents on a California street/highway or private property to be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) within 10 days if there was an injury, death or property damage in excess of $1,000.”

After an accident, if there is no damage to your person or to your car beyond that amount you, are not obligated to report the accident to the department of motor vehicles. But what if the damage is beyond that amount or you feel that your injuries will result in high medical costs? Legally, you need to report the accident to the DMV and that is where your insurance carrier will come into play. But there are so many matters that could complicate this very basic issue.

For example, if neither person takes responsibility for the accident, then the insurance companies have to battle it out to determine who is truly at fault. Very often accidents result in something that is called 50/50 fault. This means that both drivers are held responsible and both drivers will be considered equally at fault. This also means that payouts, financial responsibility and more could vary significantly from a no-fault situation.

The truth of the matter is that losing your vehicle due to a car accident can mean more than just cost of repairs. Having no mode of transportation can affect your daily life, work life, and other aspects of your life where needing a vehicle is imperative.  You should consult with a personal injury or car accident attorney if in doubt.

What will my insurance policy cover?

When it comes to car accidents,  auto insurance policies and insurance carriers help relieve some of that pressure and tension by giving us the peace of mind that if the worst were to happen, we are covered regardless of the incident. However, the complexity behind auto insurance policies is not always something that everyone is familiar with or can reasonably manage. As stated above, determining who is at fault is essential to determining which insurance policy will pay what to whom. Many people find themselves needing more help financially than what their insurance policy or the at-fault insurance policy is willing to give them. Although it is the job of an insurance policy to help cover these costs, these companies will still find ways to pay the bare minimum. It is much more difficult for insurance companies to get away with the bare minimum when attorneys who know how these companies work are involved.

There are other things to worry about when in an accident. For example, what if the at-fault party doesn’t have insurance? What if you were involved in a hit-and-run? What if your car needs extensive repairs and you find yourself in need of a rental vehicle? An attorney can help with all of these questions and, when possible, get you what you deserve.

Car accidents, personal injury and doubt

Ultimately, the best practice is to leave no doubt when it comes to any of these questions. After a car accident most people are grateful that they can walk away from it.  Coming out of a car accident without any serious injuries is really a blessing. If you have suffered serious injuries or your car was badly damaged, quick settlements can seem appealing. However, creeping injuries and undetected damages to both your person or your vehicle can happen, making the quick, small settlement obsolete. What’s more, sometimes you are convinced you are at fault and liable, but the reality may be completely different.

When in doubt, talk to a personal injury or car accident attorney. It could be the difference between regret and peace of mind. At Kirakosian Law, all consultations are free. Those few minutes can be what helps you for the rest of your life.

Our experienced auto accident attorneys at Kirakosian Law can help you overcome challenges and obstacles, as well as advocate for the best possible case settlement on your behalf. Call us today at (213) 986-5389 or request an appointment online.

*These blogs are meant purely for educational purposes. They contain only general information about legal matters. They are not legal advice, and should not be treated as such. If you have any specific questions about any legal matter you should consult with an attorney.

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