Before deciding on getting legal advice it is best to get all of your accident information organized. Knowledge is power and having all of your accident documents together gives you that. These documents should include the police report, witness statements, photographs of the accident scene and bodily injuries.
Add to these documents any medical reports plus medical bills. You will want the estimates for your car damage as part of your information packet as well. This information can not only help you settle your claim but if you chose to get legal advice help the lawyer to plead your case.
Before jumping right into finding a lawyer you can try to deal with the insurance adjuster (See this article: How To Settle Your Own Auto Accident Claim) yourself if you have the time. With your information packet gathered you will have an easier time discussing the claim. Some adjusters are easy to deal with than others. If you get one that is reasonable it is quite possible to negotiate out the settlement without any outside involvement.
Part of your negotiations (See How To Negotiate An Auto Insurance Claims Settlement You Deserve) will be to make sure that your damaged car is repaired properly with quality parts. If the car is totaled you will want to make sure you are getting paid a fair amount for it. If you have damages above and beyond this, such as bodily injury, you might have to fight a little extra to get a decent settlement.
You will not only want to get paid for your medical bills in hand but any future medical invoices that will come about because of the accident. If any of the injuries were severe you will also want to get paid for pain and suffering. The rule of thumb for this is three times your medical bills. That is why you want to make certain you have a good accounting done of the bills so that you are not short-changed.
Once you have tried negotiating with the insurance company or adjuster and feel like you are getting no where it might be time to seek legal advice. This step is usually taken after you have exhausted all ways of negotiating a fair deal on your own. It might be possible when you mention getting a lawyer to the insurance company that they will be more willing to negotiate a settlement before this happens. You might discuss with the adjuster the possibility of hiring an attorney being actually doing so to see if this happens.
The advantage of getting legal counsel is that most lawyers that take this type of case are very familiar with the ins and outs of insurance laws and will be able to get you a better settlement than what you could get on your own. The drawback is that part of the settlement is then paid out to the lawyer. In my experience the lawyer for an insurance settlement case for a car accident takes about thirty-three and one third of the total sum you settle for. The lawyers do generally try to settle high enough that you still come away with more money than you would have if you negotiated on your own, even after they take their part.
Getting a lawyer is usually the last resort of negotiating with an insurance company’s adjuster. In many circumstances it is necessary to get legal advice, so do not feel like a failure because you could not settle on your own. Putting the negotiations in the hands of a lawyer can lead to a good settlement without all the hard-to-handle phone calls with the adjuster you would have had to go through.
Settling an auto insurance claim can either be done on your own or by seeking legal advice. Only you know which method is best for you. Either way you decide get your documents organized and in order so you or the lawyer can present the best case possible to the insurance adjuter.