Although there are exceptions, if you get into a car accident and it's only a small fender bender, it is unlikely you will need an attorney. There are, however, many situations in which you should contact an attorney right away, especially when the accident is not your fault. The following are three of them.
The fault of the accident is unclear
If the accident is not your fault, obviously, you don't want to file a claim with your own insurance company because it is likely to lead to higher premiums. If you are not sure it is your fault, under no circumstances should you admit fault, consult with an attorney. They have experience in knowing how the courts will interpret the facts of the accident, and how fault will be assigned. In some situations, there may be blame that is assigned proportionally to each driver.
Your claim has been reduced
Although it is best to see an attorney before you file a claim, anytime you do file a claim and you're having trouble getting the money you believe you are entitled to, consult with an attorney. With large claims, insurance companies routinely reduce the amount that you are asking for. To make matters worse, it is likely that what you are asking for is not all of the compensation you're entitled to This is especially true when there are injuries involved. It may be a minor injury, or an injury the insurance company claims had nothing to do with your accident, so they may not want to reimburse you for any injuries, just the damage to your car.
Anytime you have serious injuries
If you have an injury that results in a trip to the emergency room or perhaps a day or more in a hospital, an insurance company is likely to be proactive with a settlement offer. A representative from the insurance company will already have a figure in mind. Along with sympathy for your injuries, a check will be ready for you to cash. Not only should you reject this offer, but you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. There are a range of possibilities for compensation. Along with medical expenses, there is compensation for missed work, pain and suffering, and physical rehabilitation to name only a few.
Any time you are in a car accident that was not your fault and the damage to your car is minimal, you are not likely to have a problem filing a claim with the other driver's insurance company. But any other situation will likely mean you need an attorney. And keep in mind, that the best time to consult with a car accident attorney is before you file a claim, but as long as you haven't signed anything, it is never too late for a lawyer.