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Should I Get a Lawyer for a Minor Car Accident?

Although minor car accidents often don’t lead to serious injuries, you may still be able to recover compensation in a personal injury claim against the driver who caused the crash for minor injuries or property damage.

What initially appears to be a minor accident can turn out to be much more than that. Even a minor car accident can be complex if you don’t know how to prove that the other driver was at fault. How do you know whether you need a car accident lawyer for your minor car accident case?

Determining if You Need a Lawyer

What factors in a traffic accident make it prudent for you to hire a car accident lawyer for legal representation for an insurance claim or car accident lawsuit?

Severity of the Accident

Most people think a minor car accident, like a fender bender, isn’t serious enough to require a lawyer.

Even if there are no obvious injuries at the accident scene, a serious injury like whiplash or a concussion could appear within hours, days, or weeks. If you are dealing with these injuries, contacting an attorney is a good idea.

Amount of Property Damage

In New York, you must file a police report within ten days of the accident if property damage for either party totals more than $1,000. In New Jersey, you must file a report if the accident causes more than $500 in damage. An attorney can guide you through the process of documenting the damage and filing the police report.

Extents of Injuries Sustained

You should always seek medical attention after an accident, even if you feel fine. You could be injured and not feel the symptoms for several days. You could hurt your claim if you wait to see a doctor for a medical exam.

Complexity of the Legal Process

If you suffered minimal injuries or vehicle damage, but there are extenuating circumstances like injuries to both parties or shared liability in a multi-vehicle accident, a car accident attorney can help you build your argument for fair compensation in your car accident case.

Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer for a Minor Car Accident

judge gavel and judge scale on wooden table

Personal injury lawyers don’t just represent you in court if you file a car accident lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

Instead, your personal injury lawyer can help you pursue compensation with your insurance claim, negotiate with your insurance company, and ensure that your insurance company upholds its duty to you as a policyholder.

Protection of Legal Rights

New York and New Jersey are no-fault states for personal injury insurance claims. After an accident, you must file your insurance claim with your own insurance company under your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.

However, just because you’re a policyholder with that insurance company doesn’t mean they’re on your side. Your attorney can stop your provider from devaluing your insurance claim by trying to make you admit fault for the accident.

Advocacy and Negotiation

Contacting a lawyer for a minor car accident can help you represent your interests in the claims process. Many lawyers speak with insurance companies on behalf of their clients to help them manage the claim and try to settle quickly for appropriate compensation for their injuries.

Dealing with Insurance Companies

Whether you file a personal injury claim with your own insurance company or file a claim in court against the at-fault driver, you will have to deal with insurance companies.

For an insurance company to offer a fair settlement, you must be able to prove fault by the other driver for causing the collision, which your attorney can help with.

Assistance with the Legal Process

To prove fault by the other driver, your car accident lawyer will need to prove that the vehicle operator who caused the collision:

  • Owed you duty of care
  • Breached that duty
  • Caused you damages in breaching their duty
  • Can “make you whole” with financial recovery

When It May Not Be Necessary to Hire a Lawyer

insurance agent examining car accident

While many personal injury lawyers offer a free legal consultation and work on contingency (they are only paid out of your settlement or award), most only work with clients whose cases they feel are substantial enough. You may not need to hire a car accident attorney in certain circumstances.

No Injuries or Damages

If neither party suffered injuries or vehicle damage, there isn’t any legal basis to pursue compensation in court. You may not even have a valid insurance claim if an adjuster can’t identify any marks or dents on your vehicle.

Clear Liability

If both parties agree that the collision occurred because one car blew through a stop sign and the police report corroborates the cause of your minor car accident, your insurance company will probably offer a quick settlement with a check made out in your name.

Insurance Company Cooperation

If your insurer offers a fair settlement, you may not need to hire a car accident lawyer for your car accident case.

However, you might want to visit a law firm and ask if the settlement offer is adequate during a free consultation with an accident lawyer before accepting.

Minimal Time and Effort Required

A car accident lawyer helps with collecting evidence, calculating how much compensation is fair in your case, and building an argument for your case if it goes to court.

These services take time, and if your case isn’t worth a large settlement, it might be a good idea to work with your insurance adjuster rather than a lawyer for a minor motor vehicle accident.

Personal Preference

If, after a free consultation from your local law offices, you don’t think you need to hire a car accident lawyer for a minor crash, you can manage your claims process yourself to recover your medical expenses and lost wages if you had to take time off from work for your minor accident injuries. Your insurance company may even cover long-term treatment for chronic pain due to an accident.

How to Choose the Right Lawyer for a Minor Car Accident

car accident lawyer successful meeting with client

If you want to work with an experienced lawyer after being injured in a minor accident, how do you know which lawyer can represent your interests? Consider these factors when choosing a car accident law firm:

  • Does the lawyer offer a free consultation?
  • Do they work on a contingency basis?

Pursuing your accident claim in court after a minor crash can pose a significant financial risk. There are court costs, attorney fees, and more.

Hiring a car accident lawyer for your case can help you win a larger settlement to cover your medical bills and other fees.

Common Mistakes to Avoid After a Minor Car Accident

Car accidents are traumatic experiences that can cause injuries, damage to your vehicle, and stress. If you’re in a car accident, avoid these mistakes that could hurt your claim:

  • Failing to write down the other driver’s insurance information
  • Admitting fault for the crash
  • Not seeking medical examination for potential injuries
  • Not contacting a car accident lawyer to begin working on your case immediately
  • Not collecting evidence like photos and videos of the accident scene
  • Telling the insurance claims adjuster that you don’t have any injuries or allowing them to record a statement

Alternatives to Hiring a Lawyer

lawyer hands between two wooden human green and red block

Car accidents don’t always require you to hire a car accident lawyer. If you don’t have any major medical bills or vehicle repair costs, you might consider one of these alternatives to pursue compensation for your minor car accident damages.

Small Claims Court

You can sue for up to $5,000 in small claims courts in New York City if you are the owner of the damaged car, and the same amount in any small claims court in New Jersey.

Small claims courts in towns and villages limit claims up to $3,000 in New York.

Mediation or Arbitration

A mediator can negotiate a settlement between parties as a neutral third party. In arbitration, an arbitrator hears the case and reviews the evidence to make a determination.

Negotiating Directly with the Insurance Company

You can manage your claims procedure with your insurance provider. You can reject an offer to settle from your insurer and reiterate your costs to make a full recovery.

Self-Representation in Legal Proceedings

You can represent yourself in court if you feel comfortable gathering and presenting your own evidence in front of a judge and jury.

Seeking Advice from Legal Aid Organizations

Public law libraries and legal webinars offer advice on cases similar to yours for you to use in presenting your argument with your insurance provider.

How Much Will a Lawyer Cost for a Minor Car Accident?

Most attorneys offer a free consultation for personal injury cases and work on contingency to deduct their hourly fees from your compensation award. Fees vary between law offices and attorneys, so ask the attorney during your consultation how their fee structure works.

Contact a Car Accident Attorney with Sadaka Law

If you’re in a minor car accident in New York City or New Jersey, contact us today at Sadaka Law.

Call us at (800) 810-3457 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with a car accident lawyer today.



Principal & Founder
This article was written by Mark Sadaka, a seasoned trial lawyer in nationally significant cases. He fearlessly champions clients impacted by fatal or severe injuries caused by others or corporations. Renowned for his expertise in complex litigation, he's featured in books, sought after by media for interviews, and a highly sought speaker. Notably, he exclusively represents individuals facing life-changing injuries or substantial financial losses.

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