You may not need a lawyer! Of course, whether or not you decide to hire a lawyer is a decision only you can make, but to be perfectly honest, some Missouri car accident cases can be settled without the assistance of an attorney. If you decide to begin the process of negotiating a settlement with the opposing insurance company, you should keep several things in mind.
- The only kind of motor vehicle case you would want to handle on your own are those cases where you have sustained no physical injuries or your injuries are very minor. Even with minor injuries though, you should wait a few weeks to make sure that they resolve completely. Make sure that you have consulted with a physician to insure that your injuries have completely healed before negotiating a settlement.
- If the medical bills that you have incurred as a result of the car accident are $2,000 or less, you may actually be better off financially by negotiating a settlement with the opposing insurance company by yourself because you will not have to factor in the attorney’s contingent fee.
- BEWARE: Once you agree to settle your legal case, you have given up your right to pursue a lawsuit to obtain compensation for your injuries.
- You can always decide to consult with an attorney before you agree to a settlement offer made by the opposing insurance company. If you have already settled your case and “signed on the dotted line” you will likely be bound to that decision and there may be very little an attorney can do for you at that point.
- Opposing insurance companies usually wants to resolve property damage claims at the same time personal injury cases are discussed. For property damage claims, your ability to negotiate is fairly limited. Do your research and know the value of your car before accepting a settlement offer. Websites such as www.kbb.com are good resources.
If you have sustained moderate to serious injuries or your medical bills exceed $3,000 I recommend that you at least talk with an attorney about your claim. Studies have shown that having an attorney represent you can substantially increase the monetary settlement amount. Consider this before entering negotiations with the opposing insurance company.
David Terry is a St. Louis personal injury lawyer with over twenty years of representing those injured by the negligence of others. The Terry Law Firm handles car accidents throughout the State of Missouri.