Not all car accident claims require a lawyer to reach the settlement stage. But knowing how to settle a case without an auto accident attorney can be complicated, especially if this is your first car accident.
The personal injury lawyers at Regan Zambri Long explain how to undergo the car accident settlement process without a lawyer.
While you may feel the need to lawyer up right away following a car accident, not all automobile collisions require legal representation.
Common reasons why you wouldn’t need a lawyer for a car accident claim include:
You were not injured.
Not all car accidents end in injury. According to Statistica, in 2019, more than 4.8 million U.S. traffic crashes resulted in property damages only.
Even in cases where you are minorly injured and heal in a day or two, most car accident lawyers will tell you there is no value to hiring an attorney in these situations and to instead, work directly with the insurance companies.
The accident was so minor you don’t want to take action.
Maybe a small fender-bender ended in some scratched paint or a dented bumper. Chances are, if the accident only results in minor cosmetic damages that you don’t want to take the time to fix, you may not need a lawyer to handle a claim with the insurance companies.
You know your insurance policy and how to utilize it.
Not everyone is insurance savvy nor knows how to get the most out of their policies. But maybe you do. If you understand the terms of your insurance policy and learn how to utilize it best, you may make out better by undergoing the insurance claim alone, without a lawyer.
You have the time to handle the claim alone.
Depending on the facts of your car accident case, you may feel you have the time and resources needed to handle the claim independently. We’re not saying that you can find all the answers in a quick Google search, but some car accident cases are more clean-cut than others and do not require legal intervention.
How Long After a Car Accident Can I File a Claim?
Keep in mind you need to know your state’s statute of limitations; otherwise, it doesn’t matter how much time you have; the clock may have already run out.
If the above circumstances sound similar to your car accident situation, you may not need a lawyer to settle your claim. You need to know a few things when settling a car accident claim without a lawyer.
Calculating the total value of your car accident claim is one of the most challenging components of a settlement. Not only is your accident valued by the physical damage done to your car, but it also includes the injuries you sustained, the amount of time you lost from work, etc.
To calculate the extent of your damages, you need to think big picture about all the expenses you’ve had since the accident. This include:
For many, the most challenging part of speaking with an insurance adjuster is remaining level-headed. Often, what the insurance company offers you will not be enough to cover your losses, which can be frustrating. But being able to listen to the insurance company, take note of what they are willing to pay, and figure out the best way to negotiate in the future will prove imperative to the success of your claim.
You’ll also need to consider future expenses. Perhaps you’ve had to go on temporary disability, or you can no longer return to a job you’ve worked, causing a decrease in wages.
When determining the damages incurred, it can be better to overestimate and negotiate from there. Selling yourself too short at the beginning of the claim will make it difficult to recoup your total losses.
Once you’ve heard from the insurance adjuster what they want to pay, you can write your demand letter and begin to negotiate why you think the settlement offered is too low and why you need the amount you propose.
Don’t be shocked if the demand letter doesn’t provide you with the needed amount. Instead, think of it as round one of the fight–the insurance company can see you’re serious and ready to take them on to get the settlement you deserve.
Most car accident and personal injury cases do not go to court simply because all parties involved want to avoid additional costs. It would help if you considered this when handling your car accident claim.
If you go to court, you risk losing and paying for the other driver’s attorney fees.
Always try to avoid court. But, if you must go, you will make your case to a judge who will decide what settlement is fair or tell you that the insurance company’s offer was enough.
From here, you will accept the settlement offered (either by the judge or insurance company, depending on the route taken) and your claim is closed. At this point, you cannot seek additional compensation or legal action.
Sometimes representing yourself and settling a car accident claim without a lawyer is not the best move. In those cases, you may better hire a car accident attorney to guide you through the claims process.
How can an attorney help me after a car accident?
By hiring a car accident attorney, you will benefit by:
You don’t always need an attorney, but sometimes, it’s better to look to professionals with the time and resources to dedicate to your case.
If you are unsure if you can settle a car accident claim without a lawyer, call Regan Zambri Long. During a no-obligation, free consultation, our attorneys will review the facts of your case to determine if a lawyer is needed to represent you.
Remember, you want the most out of your car accident claim, and so does your lawyer. If the case isn’t large enough, a good car accident attorney will not waste your time–or your compensation. Plus, we work on a contingency fee basis which means you don’t pay until we win.
With over 100 years of experience as automobile accident lawyers in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC, Regan Zambri Long can assist you with the claims process after your car accident. Call us today at (202) 960-4596 or complete our online contact form.