The insurance industry estimates that most people will be involved in a car accident once every 17.9 years. As one might imagine, these car accidents aren’t usually life-altering or catastrophic.
Indeed, a recent Nolo.com study said most people only got $52,900 for their car accident settlements. These indicate minor car accidents: accidents with injuries that you’re likely to recover from.
In some cases, no, you won’t need to hire a lawyer. If there are no injuries whatsoever, not even hidden injuries like whiplash or soft-tissue injuries like a sprain or strain then you probably won’t need a lawyer. In those cases, insurance companies usually pay to repair the damage to your car without complaint and don’t tend to fight the police officer’s assessment of the situation.
Alberta is even a no-fault province, which means in a truly minor collision your own insurance company will probably cover your property damage and will do so relatively quickly.
This does not mean you should handle every minor car accident without a lawyer’s help.
When should I hire a lawyer for a minor car accident?
You should hire a lawyer when two things are true.
First, the accident was not your fault. If you were at fault for the accident then you’d be on the defense side of the personal injury case rather than the plaintiff’s side.
Second, you’ve sustained an injury of any kind, no matter how minor. You’ll have a medical bill for those injuries. It’s possible Medicare will cover the bills, but if they won’t you want to know that there’s someone on your side seeing to it that the bills are paid.
This is especially true if the injury caused you to miss work while you were getting treatment. You deserve money for those lost wages, and may even need it to pay your bills!
In both cases, you’ll be entitled to a pain and suffering award. Even if the injury is a minor soft tissue injury you can get up to $5,365 in pain and suffering damages for those injuries. You do deserve to be compensated for your pain, even if it’s not the greatest possible pain you could possibly imagine suffering.
Read More: Why Do I Need A Lawyer After A Car Accident?
What happens after a minor car accident?
After you reach out to your lawyer your lawyer will present the other driver’s insurance company with a demand letter. We will outline the extent of your injuries, pain, and suffering, and suggest the amount that we think should be paid.
In some minor car accidents, the insurance company takes you far more seriously than they’d take you without a lawyer’s help. Sometimes the insurance company will just agree with the demand letter and issue the check, especially if the amount is relatively low.
If your minor injury is actually something that costs tens of thousands of dollars then you can expect the process to take a little longer. It may even take 18 months. The lawyers will start to enter into settlement negotiations. They’ll investigate the facts of the case and as new facts come to light the demands may change.
You may enter into an alternative dispute resolution process if your lawyer and the defendant’s lawyer can’t come to an agreement on your own.
What are the Top Reasons to Hire a Lawyer?
Hiring a lawyer comes with a number of advantages, even for smaller cases.
To Handle Your Insurance Company
One place where people really devalue their personal injury cases is at the moment where they begin talking to the insurance adjuster.
The insurance adjuster does not want to pay you. When they do pay you, they want to pay you as little as possible. So they find ways to make you increase your percentage of fault through verbal traps. They try to talk you into releasing medical records that they can then use to downgrade their responsibility for your injuries by pointing to pre-existing conditions that could complicate the chain of responsibility.
They try to delay you with needless forms and convince you to hurt your case more by having you sign written statements you absolutely should not sign.
In some cases they even manage to delay claimants until the statute of limitations runs out, so they don’t get paid at all.
When the insurance company does make an offer to someone without a lawyer it tends to be a lowball offer that doesn’t necessarily cover the entire value and worth of your case.
When you hire a lawyer the insurance company now has to talk to the lawyer instead of to you, and that means the lawyer can bypass all these tricks and claims that “you can’t be paid if you don’t cooperate.” The lawyer gets taken seriously, which is invaluable, even if you dodge all the other traps. You also get peace and quiet to heal while the lawyer takes care of everything else.
Knowledge of All Potential Damages
It is very hard for a layperson to know the actual worth of their case. For example, could you name a realistic figure for what your pain and suffering is worth right now? Probably not, and neither could most people.
Knowing the exact worth of your case is invaluable, and is one of the reasons why most people get three to five times more money with a lawyer’s help even after lawyers fees are accounted for.
Negotiating for a Settlement
It takes keen negotiation skills to put together a solid settlement and to convince the insurance company to pay it. That means long hours and a solid understanding of your case and the law backing your case.
Even if you’re a good negotiator in your own day-to-day life you will find you are in a stronger position if you are working with a respected personal injury lawyer who handles these kinds of cases every day.
For Your Peace of Mind
When you hire a lawyer you know that you’re going to be treated fairly. You also free up time and energy to heal instead of spending that same time and energy arguing with an adjuster on the phone.
You know that your medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses are far more likely to get covered. Your lawyer will even handle accident-related creditors on your behalf, which means you don’t have to argue with them or negotiate with them, either.
Speak With an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Today
Call us for a risk-free case assessment. Our responsive, caring lawyers have over two decades of experience helping other Albertans navigate their personal injury cases.
Don’t assume your case is too small or too weak for us to take a look at. We’d rather you ask us and tell you that you can handle the case on your own than have you try to go it alone and walk past thousands of dollars that you could have gotten to compensate you for that other driver’s negligence.
Contact us to schedule your initial consultation today.
Call (403) 237-9777 to get started.