Do I Need a Lawyer After a Minor Car Accident?

If you’ve been in a relatively minor car accident and you were not seriously injured, you may be wondering whether you really need a lawyer to recoup your damages, or whether you could negotiate your settlement on your own.

The question is whether doing it yourself would be a good idea and whether you would really be able to negotiate a fair settlement with the other driver’s insurance company. Let’s take a look at your options and consider the pros and cons.

How Minor Was Your Accident Really?

The main reason why you would consider handling your case by yourself is to save money. If a lawyer takes your case on a contingency basis, their fee would generally amount to approximately 35-40% of your compensation.

Without a lawyer, you would get to keep the entire amount of the settlement. The question is whether an experienced personal injury lawyer would be able to get you a higher settlement? And whether the difference would be more than the lawyer’s usual 35-40% cut?

How Much Damage Have You Suffered?

The first step towards making that decision should be to determine what the extent of your damage really is. This will give you a good idea of how much of a settlement you would need to cover it.

What is the damage to your car? Did you have a mechanic look at it to get an estimate? How much would it cost to fix it? Would you have to rent a car until it is repaired?

Have you suffered any injuries? Did you have to go to the hospital? Did you break anything? Are you in pain? Do you have a concussion? Do you have medical bills or need assistive devices? How much are they so far? How much more will they be by the time you are back to your normal self?

Remember that we are not always fully aware of the extent of our injuries. Be sure to get checked out thoroughly by your doctor and don’t try to tough it out. It won’t do you any favors.

Did you miss work and wages because of your injuries? How much? Will you miss any more work in the near future? If so, tally it up.

Finally, tally up all of it and gather your receipts and other documents. And don’t forget to consider any non-monetary damages. Are you still in pain? Are you limping?

Whose Fault Was the Accident?

You also need to be sure that the accident was clearly the other driver’s fault. Do you have photos or videos? Do you have the police report? Is it clear about the accident having been the other party’s fault? If there is any doubt, the negotiation can quickly go into the wrong direction. In fact, you might at least want to arrange a free case evaluation with an experienced car accident attorney to get more clarity.

Throughout this process, remember that the insurance company is not your friend, and that they will do everything they can to pay you as little as possible, and, preferably, nothing at all. They may also use tricks to get you to admit to having made mistakes, having been distracted, or having done something else that could be taken as your own fault in the accident.

If you’re in an at-fault state, you would then proceed to negotiating a settlement with the insurance company. However, if the accident happened in Delaware, the situation is different!

How Does Delaware’s No-Fault Insurance System Factor in?

Delaware has a no-fault system. While every driver is required to carry a minimum amount of bodily injury liability and property damage liability insurance, every driver is also required to have Personal Injury Protection (PIP). PIP covers medical bills and lost wages up to its limits, which is usually $15,000/$30,000 but it can also be much higher. So every driver has his or her own insurance.

Some PIP policies have deductibles that have to be met before any payments are made. Ideally, drivers should also have insurance to cover any damage to their own vehicles.

Of course, Delaware has the usual insurance coverage types as well, from collision liability coverage, which is required, to uninsured motorist coverage. These are all listed in The Instant Insurance Guide.

If the accident in question was truly a minor accident and it occurred in Delaware, chances are good that your own PIP insurance would cover the losses that were incurred. If so, no further action would be necessary.

If the losses significantly exceed the amount of PIP coverage, however, you would be permitted to sue the other driver who caused the accident. This would allow you to recover additional damages as well as any non-monetary damages resulting from the accident. The only limitation is that any amounts that are or should have been covered by PIP cannot be included in the lawsuit.

As a result, you are permitted to sue the other driver and their insurance company, provided they were at least 50% at fault for the accident. If you were partially at fault for the accident as well, then the compensation you might eventually win will be reduced by the percentage for which you were at fault. The specifics will be determined by the court.

And if there are indeed sufficient damages to justify a lawsuit, it would be wise to actually consult a Delaware car accident lawyer to help you determine how to proceed for the best outcome. For a free case evaluation, call or email us. We will be happy to talk with you.