When do you need a lawyer for a car accident?

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Joel Ohman
Founder, CFP®https://res.cloudinary.com/quotellc/image/upload/insurance-site-images/ciccom-live/41b5e36b-joel-ohman.jpg

UPDATED: Dec 16, 2018

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Here's what you need to know...
  • Car insurance is required for anyone wishing to drive
  • You can call your lawyer after any accident
  • You may need a lawyer if the insurance company is refusing to settle with you for what you think you are due

Ask any lawyer, car insurance protects the driver, his or her passengers and others on the road.

No one gets in their car on any given day anticipating an accident. The unfortunate truth is: accidents happen. The following article details how to know when to get a lawyer involved in car insurance claims.

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When you have to make a claim after a car accident, the process can be long and drawn out for months and even years. Although the purpose of acquiring car insurance is for protection, sometimes you are left with an unexpected expense.

When is it time to call a lawyer regarding car insurance?

Man texting on smartphone.

When an accident occurs most of us know the first step is to call the police. While the next step is to exchange insurance information with the other driver, it is not always that simple.

Suppose the other driver does not have insurance or the accident happens on private property? The circumstances may not be so cut and dry.

What many do not know is the insurance company who they thought worked for them really may not have their best interest in mind at all.

In any event other than a fender bender where no one is hurt, it is time to call:

  • Your lawyer
  • Your car insurance company
  • Any other entity that has vested interest, such as a rental car company

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Lawyer Car Insurance: Who does the car insurance company work for?

Although you pay the insurance company, they do not work for you.

Insurance companies work for themselves!

They are set up to minimize the cost the company pays in the long run. What the policyholder pays is for protection from a major expense that may bankrupt you if you have to pay out-of-pocket.

In the event of an accident, the company that holds your policy will pay according to the standards of the policy.

For instance, a policy in one state may require the minimum coverage of $25,000 for the bodily injury of one person, $50,000 for all people injured in one event, and $25,000 for damage to the vehicle.

They will rely on the usual and customary allowances set by medical insurance companies to cover medical expenses. Then they will require three estimates from repair shops for repairs to the damaged vehicle covered under the policy.

Your Lawyer: Car Insurance Claims


Negotiating auto wreck settlements and serious accidents are when it is often time to speak to a lawyer.

Sometimes the insurance company does not want to pay what you might consider the full replacement value when the car is totaled, rendering you, the policyholder, underwater or upside down.

This means that you are left to pay the balance due on a car you no longer have. A lawyer might be able to help fight this low-ball number in court.

Another situation a policyholder may encounter is major medical expenses the insurance company may not want to pay.

Injuries sustained in the accident could be connected to a pre-existing condition such as pregnancy. An example may be premature labor as a result of the accident. This could be hard to prove in a court of law.

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Lawyer Car Insurance: Law Suits in a No Fault State

Many states have no-fault provisions which meant that, regardless of who is at fault, each driver’s own insurance company pays. In these type cases monetary and injury thresholds limit the amount of non-economic losses. This includes:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress
  • Punitive damages
  • Derivatives

These types of damages are limited to major accidents where serious damage and even death occurs.

Through the representation of a lawyer, car insurance companies of the drivers involved may be sued by passengers, spouses, and others affected by the outcome.

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Lawyer Car Insurance: Can I sue my insurance company?


Although passengers injured in an accident can sue both insurance companies, many wonder if they can sue their own insurance company for damages.

Yes, this is possible. It is advisable to speak with an attorney to learn your rights and limitations, however. Drivers must also be conscious of the statute of limitations as well.

The statute of limitations establishes a time limit on when a lawsuit may be filed after an accident.

Even if the insurance company holds you at fault, the court’s decision may prove otherwise. A chart is used to determine who is at fault. Some factors that may not have been taken into consideration are:

  • Weather
  • Third-party contributions
  • Visibility

It may even take a jury to analyze all the facts. Consequently, the policyholder may not be held accountable at all, or only a percentage of the damages.

Lawyer Car Insurance: How to Shop for a Personal Injury Lawyer

Personal injury lawyers, insurance companies, and you all have a stake in the outcome of an accident and trial. Therefore it is important to choose an attorney who is going to fight for you.

Those lawyers who have a reputation for success may be the best and most expensive. But for those who may not have insurance, or be able to afford an attorney, each state has some type of legal aid to assist you.

The best way to prevent this situation is to find an insurance company and policy that meet your needs. Use the free rate tool provided on this page to source several quotes that fit your requirements.

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