The time that passes after a car accident can be chaotic. Depending on the severity of the accident, you may be feeling confused, hurt, angry, or any myriad of other feelings. In the process of assessing your injuries and damages to your property, you may begin to wonder if you need to hire a car accident attorney.
Most Chicago drivers do not know if or when they need to hire a car accident lawyer to handle their case. A lawyer can almost always be of assistance, however, there are many accidents that may be fine handling yourself.
When You Do Not Need An Attorney
Hiring an attorney comes down primarily to how comfortable you feel handling a claim on your own. If no one, including yourself, was injured during the accident and the damage to your vehicle was small, settling the claim should be relatively straightforward.
The important thing to keep in mind is that the decision not to hire an attorney means you will be handling all negotiations with the insurance company on your own. This means contacting the insurance companies, ensuring you have all the proper documentation for your accident, injuries, and damages, as well as taking the time necessary to build a case and learning how to present it. In Illinois, the statute of limitations is two years for personal injury and five for property damage. Remember, settling a claim could take months and you want to make sure there is plenty of time just in case you end up needing to file a lawsuit.
Instances Where You Might Need An Attorney
For some accidents, it might be a good idea to hire a lawyer even if it is not necessary. This might includes times when:
- There may be issues regarding fault;
- You are unsure of your rights in relation to the accident;
- You do not understand the terms of your insurance policy
- The other driver does not have insurance;
- You need assistance reviewing complicated paperwork or forms; and/or
- You want advice about the value of your claim and what amount of money you should be demanding for the settlement.
When An Attorney is Necessary
Accidents that clearly require attorneys tend to be a bit more complex. An attorney is certainly necessary if the accident involved serious injury to yourself or a passenger in your vehicle, hospitalization, or significant vehicle/property damage.
If your car accident involves any of the following, you should seek the aid of an attorney as soon as possible:
- Serious injuries or fatalities, including permanent disabilities, loss of limb, or extended medical treatment;
- When fault is clearly problematic;
- If the police report inaccurately describes the accident and states you are at fault;
- Multiple parties are involved, including other motor vehicles, pedestrians, or cyclists;
- Your liability insurance limits are low or the insurance company claims you have not paid your premium;
- If the insurer acts suspiciously; and/or
- The insurer brings in an attorney.
Because attorneys have more experience and typically understand what you are entitled to more, they may be able to get you a larger settlement amount. Finding a car accident attorney in Chicago is simple and most will usually offer a free consultation to review your case and offer advice.