Do I have to hire a Car Accident lawyer for Minor Accident?
Michigan’s roads can be busy and dangerous places. And with the harsh winters we often get here, weather conditions can often make those roads even more dangerous. In fact, Michigan is the most dangerous state for winter driving with around 50 fatalities every year.
But another thing about driving in winter is that there are more minor accidents too. With snowy and icy conditions, drivers often underestimate their braking distance or simply hit a patch of ice and slide into another vehicle. When we have a minor car accident, whether in winter or at any other time of year, what should we do and do we need a lawyer in these more minor collisions?
What Do You Do After an Accident?
The first thing to know is that after any sort of accident, minor or major, there are certain things you should always do. Of course, carrying out these tasks is going to depend on you yourself being injury-free or at least still able to carry them out yourself.
- Medical. The first thing you will always do after a car crash is to check for injuries, to yourself, to any passengers, and then to anyone else involved in the accident. If there are any injuries, seeking medical attention may be crucial so call 911 and request an ambulance or paramedics. If the crash is more than a minor one, you can also ask the police to attend.
- Keep calm and never lose your temper even if accusations are being thrown around.
- If possible, take as many photographs – and video if possible – of the scene of the accident.
- Depending on the amount of damage to your vehicle – and other vehicles involved – try and move all vehicles to the side of the road or even off the road if possible.
- Collect all relevant information for making a personal injury claim or insurance claim later. That information will include all contact details – name, phone number, insurance information – as well as license plate numbers. Also, if there were any witnesses, collect their contact information too.
- As well as photos of the vehicles and the scene, if there were any factors you think contributed to the accident such as weather or road conditions, then record them too.
The level of police involvement will depend on how serious the accident was. Michigan state law requires that you report an accident to police under the following circumstances:
- Where any injuries or deaths have resulted from the accident.
- When there is $1000 or more in damage to property.
If your accident was fairly minor but still meets these criteria, then police may not attend the scene but you will have to attend the nearest police station to report the accident. If the accident was serious, then police will attend. Any report they make may identify an at fault driver but will also be a crucial part of ensuring any insurance claim goes smoothly.
Is a Lawyer Necessary After a Minor Accident
In many car accident cases where injuries or damage are relatively minor, there will probably be no need to hire an accident attorney. With Michigan’s no-fault insurance laws, a lot of car accident cases can be settled between drivers and insurance companies so you may never need to hire a lawyer. No-fault insurance should in theory, cover most of your economic damages, including medical expenses, salary loss, and any repairs to your motor vehicle.
However, things do not always go as smoothly as you may like, and there may be several scenarios where consulting with an attorney may be advisable. Some examples where you may need the services of a personal injury lawyer includes:
- One of the most common reasons drivers involved in minor accidents contact an attorney is disputes with their insurance company. We all know that the primary mission of any insurance company is to make profits and to pay good dividends to their shareholders. This means that they will frequently make low settlement offers, delay payments, and use any clause they can to renege on payments. With our state having the highest insurance premiums in the country, this can be especially frustrating. If you do need to hire an attorney, they can negotiate with the insurance company to ensure a better settlement. The very fact that you have engaged a lawyer is often enough in itself to see an improved offer.
- Long term injuries. Even with what initially appears to be a minor accident with non-serious injuries, there may be effects from that injury later. Some injuries, such as whiplash or spinal damage, may not be immediately noticeable and may manifest days or even weeks later. Some of these injuries may take longer to recover from. Having an experienced accident attorney working on your case means they will thoroughly investigate all your medical costs and future needs. That work may also include seeking testimony from expert medical witnesses.
- Liability. While most cases will be solved within the parameters of the state’s no-fault laws, there will be occasions where there is a clearly defined at fault party. This may be because the other driver was found to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or where clear violation of Michigan’s traffic laws was to blame for the accident. In those sorts of cases, you may be able to pursue a third party claim for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. It is not always cut and dried though, and an attorney can help you identify if you have a legitimate claim.
Many cases will be settled thanks to the no fault insurance law covering any expenses and costs incurred.
But when things do go wrong, you need an experienced law firm to help you get the settlement you deserve and deal with any bureaucratic issues.
Cochran, Kroll & Associates can deal with any sort of auto accident case if needed, from minor fender benders to more serious incidents. We offer a free consultation to assess your case and you can book one of those appointments by calling us today at (866)-779-7331.