Do I Need a Lawyer for a Car Accident Settlement?

A man calling his lawyer on his phone after a car accident on the highway between him and another vehicle.So you met with your insurance provider, but you aren’t satisfied with the amount your insurance company wants to hand over to you after a car accident. What do you do next?

As state law permits, you may pursue compensation through other means, such as through a lawsuit. You don’t actually have to take it all the way to court, after all, most cases settle before the trial.

Maybe the threat of a lawsuit is enough to get the insurance company to play fair.

Well… yes and also no. Under the right circumstances, the very idea of a lawsuit does light a fire under the defendant just enough to make them cooperate.

But you’ve just failed to argue with a multimillion-dollar company why your claim should be any higher. Why would they be afraid of arguing with you all over again?

It might be time to call a car accident lawyer.

Can You Settle a Car Accident Without a Lawyer?

Yes, you technically can settle a car accident without a lawyer. There is no law that requires you to have an attorney represent you when making an insurance claim, filing a lawsuit, or moving to trial.

When a person chooses to pursue legal action on their own, this is called filing a lawsuit pro se, which comes from Latin and means “for one’s own self.”

Pro se cases offer claimants some advantages assuming they go right. They also have several disadvantages that can put unprepared people’s chances of fair compensation on the line.

Advantages of a Pro Se Car Accident Settlement

People who choose to settle without a lawyer often do so because they want to save on lawyer’s fees. This tends to hold true in car accident settlements because personal injury lawyers charge a percentage of winnings when the policyholder gets their claim.

Because most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee – that is, charging you a percentage of your winnings – larger claims can cost more. Working without a lawyer means the claimant can potentially hold on to a larger amount of money.

Filing an insurance claim pro se also gives claimants more personal control over how they handle the claims process. This means they can adjust when to do certain tasks, such as filing forms or scheduling meetings with insurance representatives according to their schedule.

Assuming you do not accept the insurer’s offer, you have the option to file a lawsuit against them or the at-fault party they cover. You may also do so without a lawyer, though the same rules for pro se claims apply.

Disadvantages of Filing a Lawsuit Pro Se

Some of the problems claimants encounter when filing a lawsuit pro se are direct consequences of the advantages they offer. For instance, while pro se means people are allowed to set their own schedules, it also puts all the responsibility on their shoulders.

This means it is on the claimant to know and understand the details of their policy, compile their own evidence, free their schedule for meetings with the insurance representative, and negotiate if and when the insurer makes a lowballed offer.

These tasks are not necessarily impossible in a vacuum, depending on the person going through the process. The issue is that a car accident insurance claim is not filed in a vacuum, and the context has to be included that it is filed in the aftermath of an accident.

So when a claimant has to ensure all these tasks are completed on time, they also have to consider their own medical treatment, therapy, recovery time, and – once they are capable – their return to work.

The biggest problem with filing an accident lawsuit without an attorney, however, is directly tied to the job attorneys do. That is, they specialize in understanding and handling processes such as insurance claims, lawsuits, and court proceedings.

Lawyers spend three years to master the fundamentals of law. Once licensed, they often have to spend three more years specializing in niches of the legal system, such as personal injury.

The average US citizen does not have these six years of experience and is often vulnerable to being taken advantage of by insurers. Remember that even if an insurance company is built on satisfied clients, they are still a business and will mitigate costs when possible.

Insurance providers have their own legal team who will argue why you only need a small amount to cover your accident damages. If you do not have the knowledge and experience to justify the amount you believe is fair, you will not get that amount.

What Can a Car Accident Lawyer Do for You?

While you could pursue an insurance settlement on your own, it doesn’t necessarily mean doing so is a good idea. Even lawyers themselves will refuse to be their own representation in legal proceedings, in fact.

First, and as implied in the previous section, lawyers provide clients with the time to go on with their regular life throughout claims processes and lawsuits. This convenience means clients can go through the ordeal with at least a little more ease than if they made a claim without a lawyer.

Secondly, and importantly, in the case of accident and injury lawyers, the nature of contingency fees presents its own advantages for clients. Because your contingency means your lawyer is paid based on your winnings, you do not spend if you do not win.

Contingency fees usually fall between 30% to 40% of total winnings. This means your lawyer will, at minimum, argue for at least 167% more from your insurance provider’s offer to cover all your expenses.

Research shows that only 51% of claimants who represent themselves reach any kind of payout, while 91% of claimants who work with attorneys successfully receive compensation of their own.

The same research also suggests that, on average, claimants who work with a lawyer usually receive three times as much in compensation as those who do not. This amount comes after contingency is deducted from the claim.

So while pro se claimants would argue that winning means increased cost, those who work with a lawyer see that working with a lawyer is low-to-no-risk since expenses are only accrued when the lawyer manages to secure enough to cover your expenses in the first place.

How Does A Lawyer Maximize Your Settlement?

A lawyer’s ability to maximize your settlement rests on their strategy, negotiation skills, legal expertise, and an understanding of the case at hand. Lawyers can express these skills at any point during the lawsuit, but here is where they come in most handy.

Your Case Evaluation

Your lawyer starts by looking at any evidence you already have and evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of your case. This helps both you and your lawyer make a more accurate first estimate of what your claim is worth compared to what you originally expected.

Good personal injury attorneys offer case evaluations for free as a show of goodwill. This is also a show of expertise because it offers attorneys a chance to demonstrate their skills without the client having to spend anything.

Research and Strategy

When you decide to work with a lawyer, they will begin researching relevant precedents and laws related to your case as well as gather any evidence you might have missed to support your claim.

This is where you might discover damages to include in your claim that you hadn’t thought of before. Your lawyer will include economic damages you might have missed and place a monetary value on non-economic damages such as your pain and suffering.

Once your case is ready, your attorney will put together a cohesive strategy to face the insurance adjuster.

Meeting the Insurance Company

The insurer will send an insurance adjuster to do the same things your lawyer does but with the company’s interests in mind rather than your own. Your attorney will argue why you deserve more money than they offer you and counter their arguments on your behalf.

If negotiations fall through, your attorney can initiate formal litigation, the threat of which, if your case is strong enough, can make the insurance representative offer a fairer settlement. Most lawsuits might not make it to trial, but your lawyer can make sure you are prepared to do so.

Finally, if a trial is not in your best interest, your lawyer can recommend alternate dispute resolution methods, such as arbitration or mediation, to speed up the settlement process.

And your lawyer can do all of this in your stead, so you don’t always have to be there. You can focus on recovering from your injuries and pulling your life back together while the stress of a settlement negotiation blows over.

Don’t Risk Your Chance at Fair Compensation: Call Valley Law Today

Valley Law Accident and Injury Lawyers offers its clients the proven statistical advantage of making a claim with an expert attorney by their side. Lead Attorney Brigham Richards brings over a decade of experience in personal injury law to get you your fair compensation.

You have the right to the resources you need to heal from your injuries. We at Valley Law are ready to fight by your side to make sure you get what you deserve.

Call Valley Law today at 801-810-9999 or reach out to us by filling out our online form found here. Your consultation is free, and we do not charge you anything unless we win your case.

Get in touch

Work with the team that cares

5255 S 4015 W Suite 207C,
SLC, UT, 84129, United States.

Call 24/7 801-810-9999

Directions Sign
Valley Law Accident & Injury Lawyers Logo

Book a Consultation

Find out why so many clients appreciate the amount of work we put into their case.

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Brigham Richards
Receive top-tier legal guidance from a leading expert in the valley
Call to action

2021 and 2022 Gold Winner for Top Law Firm by Salt City Best


Call 24/7 801-810-9999