Do you need to hire an Indianapolis car accident attorney when you are involved in a crash in Indiana? You will probably get different answers depending on whom you ask. Insurance companies will tell you that you do not need a lawyer because their adjuster can take care of everything. A neighbor who won a large settlement may swear by hiring an attorney. Where does your case fall? We provide the basics about hiring a lawyer so you can decide for yourself.
How to Know If You Need an Attorney
If your crash is minor and you are immediately offered compensation that meets all your present and future financial needs, you probably don’t need an attorney. However, if your claim involves any of the following, you should seriously consider finding a reputable law firm to represent you:
- Catastrophic injuries. If you or a loved one suffered a traumatic brain injury, amputation, paralysis, or another serious injury as a result of the crash, an attorney will know how to negotiate with the at-fault driver’s insurance company for a settlement that will ensure that you are taken care of for the rest of your life. This may involve waiting for maximum medical improvement and being patient through long negotiations. Even with less severe injuries, a lawyer is more likely to get you a higher settlement than if you go it alone.
- Fatality. If the crash involved a fatality, a lawyer will help you evaluate the case for a possible wrongful death claim. It is tough to pursue this on your own, especially since you are likely grieving.
- Question of fault. Because Indiana is a comparative fault state, the insurance adjuster for the at-fault driver may make a claim that you were partially to blame for the crash to lower your potential settlement. If this is the case, a lawyer will help gather the evidence needed to prove your innocence and will speak on your behalf.
- Unacceptable offer. If you are offered an unreasonably low settlement, you probably don’t have the knowledge and skill to counter. An attorney will know when to push back and when to accept an offer so that you get the best possible outcome.
How to Choose the Right Car Accident Lawyer for Your Case
If you have decided you do need a lawyer, your next step is to find the right attorney for you. Research your options and make sure the firm you are considering has a positive track record with cases like yours. Some law firms specialize in catastrophic injury, others in motorcycle accidents. Finding a good match means asking a lot of questions. You want to know that your lawyer will take your case to trial if necessary to win you the maximum settlement. You also want to have a good rapport with your lawyer, so be sure to meet candidates in person to get a feel for how he or she communicates and responds to your concerns.
What to Do After Hiring an Attorney
Once you have decided on an attorney, you should immediately turn over any documents you have collected—including a police report, medical records up to this point, contact information for others involved in the crash, statements from eyewitnesses, and a copy of your own insurance policy. Your attorney should take over from here. If you are contacted by anyone related to the accident, you should refer them to your attorney from now on. You can now focus on your own recovery.
What Does it Cost to Hire an Attorney?
Personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means you do not pay anything until your case settles. At that point, your attorney will take a percentage of the settlement as his fee. A reputable attorney will tell you upfront what the percentage will be and whether you will be required to pay any other costs along the way. Contingency fee arrangements are strong motivators for attorneys because if they do not win, they do not get paid. If you meet with an attorney who works under a different fee arrangement, you should consider looking for someone else.