I was in a car accident last week and suffered whiplash and a broken arm. The accident was the other driver’s fault, and I have his insurance information. Is that enough or do I need a lawyer?
An attorney may be able to help settle claims even in minor motor vehicle accidents, although having an attorney is not necessary.
"I’d recommend an attorney if you have a question about the fairness of a settlement offer or if you just feel the need for expert advice," said attorney Brian Weber.
Immediately after an accident, you should gather facts about what occurred, said Weber. "A lot of people get out of the car and announce it was their fault. They may be in shock and not realize what really happened. But what they said goes on the record."
Get names of witnesses and an idea of their statements, along with insurance information from other involved parties. Also, seek medical attention if you suspect an injury. With some soft tissue injuries not showing up until later, the sooner you get problems recorded, the better.
"It’s important to tell your doctor everything. "If it is not medically documented, it will be difficult to prove you should be compensated," Weber said. "However, do not minimize or exaggerate your injuries. That can make everything you say questionable to parties with whom you are negotiating a settlement as well as in court."
When should you settle your personal injury case? You can decide the property issues quickly, but wait until your doctor says you have reached maximum healing to settle injury issues. If you discover a permanent injury after you’ve signed a settlement, it can’t be changed.
A Johns, Flaherty & Collins lawyer is available to represent clients in cases or to review settlement offers.
"If you are thinking about signing a release for injuries, that’s a good time to call an attorney. It’s important you understand everything you are giving up by signing the release," Weber said.
Information provided by Brian Weber, attorney at Johns, Flaherty & Collins, SC. For an accident or personal injury attorney, call him at 608-784-5678.