Very few people get into a Denver car accident and think, “YES! I get to call an attorney!” In fact, most people I know don’t even consider calling a lawyer after a car or motorcycle accident because they think the entire issue can be handled through their insurance agent.
And sometimes, they’re right. For minor fender-benders, you probably don’t need a Denver personal injury attorney’s help. However, I’ve seen far too many people get mired in the web of insurance complexities and even leave money on the table because they didn’t know the right questions to ask. Worse, I’ve seen accident victims receive less coverage than they need and are due – from the other driver’s insurance company and from their very own insurance company.
It never hurts to ask.
Simply put: in accidents involving big property damages and injuries, the legal and insurance systems are too complex for accident victims to navigate on their own. And usually, there is too much at stake to even try.
So first, let me share a handy checklist to help you decide if you need an attorney after your car accident.
Seek an attorney’s help if:
The accident caused injuries or a fatality
You don’t know (or dispute) who is at fault
You will miss work due to injuries sustained in the accident
The police report doesn’t reflect what you believe happened
Your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company is being difficult
You’re uncertain whether you are getting everything possible from your own insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company (sadly, insurance companies frequently “hide” coverage in order to avoid paying)
You feel like you’re in negotiations with an insurer
You’re confused by paperwork you’ve been sent
You’ve requested paperwork from your insurer and they refuse to send it or only send partial documents
Those attorneys you see on billboards are spending millions on advertising and have monumental case quotas to fill, which leads to neglect of current clients.
If any of the above criteria sound familiar, you should call an attorney. (I strongly suggest that you not call the number floating by you on a bus or a billboard. Those attorneys are spending millions on advertising and have monumental case quotas to fill, which leads to neglect of current clients. Read my blog about them here. Instead, ask friends if they have a recommendation and do your homework.)
Are You Hurt?
If you’ve been hurt in a car or motorcycle accident, you need an attorney’s help. First of all, you have a big job ahead of you: healing. I have a former client who was managing all of her husband’s medical care after a car accident and she told me that, as soon as she decided to have me represent her with the insurance companies, 75% of her stress disappeared. She could just focus on making sure her husband was getting the care he needed.
Insurance company agents are trained to gain your trust so that you tell them things that they can use against you.
Aside from helping you to focus on medical treatment and healing, a personal injury attorney can…
Take over insurance company communications: As soon as you hire a personal injury attorney, you no longer have to call or respond to a single insurance company request. Your attorney takes that over entirely.
Access money from places other than the other driver’s insurance company: Many people in Colorado car accidents only look at the negligent driver’s insurance for financial help, but there are other “pots” that you can access after an accident. Insurance is a confusing industry… sometimes I think they try to confuse us on purpose.
Help you understand the nuances of MedPay: If you have Medical Payments Coverage on your insurance policy, you can use it to pay for first responders, emergency room bills, co-pays, deductibles, doctor visits, chiropractors, massage therapy, physical therapy… In essence, it may cover a lot of things that your health insurance doesn’t. Often, people totally forget that they bought this coverage and they don’t know how to use it. (And your insurance company likely won’t step up and remind you.)
Determine the true value of a case, which is an art and science that takes into account much more than property damage and medical bills. Did you know that victims can use the amount that hospitals bill, which is usually much higher than what you pay, in determining the value of a case? Little facts like that can mean that you end up getting much more money to cover your past, current and future medical needs resulting from this accident.
Reduce your medical bills: A personal injury attorney can challenge hospitals and other medical companies to reduce the amount that you owe, thereby adding more money from the settlement to your pocket.
These are just a few examples of why you should seek an attorney’s help after a car accident.
Do You Feel Like the Insurance Companies Aren’t Playing Fair?
I also want you to do a gut-check: Do you feel in your guts that your conversations with the insurance companies are going well? If you have that little tickle of doubt, listen to it. Or, conversely, if you feel like one of the insurance company reps is trying to position him/herself as your new best friend to whom you can tell all your medical history and treatment options, hang up that phone! Insurance company agents are trained to gain your trust so that you tell them things that they can use against you.
If you feel like you might want to hire an attorney but you’re still not sure, I suggest you call a few attorneys to talk to them about your case. Because personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee (meaning you pay nothing until your case is settled), you will owe nothing for these conversations. However, you may learn a lot about your case and the type of attorney you’re comfortable with. You shouldn’t be shy about asking these attorneys to come to you – at home or in the hospital – because you have enough going on.
If you have any questions about this article, or if you need help after an accident, please call me today. I’d love to help you figure out whether you need an attorney’s help.