Do You Need a Car Accident Lawyer If There Was No Injury?
Those who manage to walk away from a car crash without personal injury can consider themselves lucky. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has counted more than 2.2 million people injured on U.S. roads each year for the past several decades. But many wonder if there is any reason to contact a car accident lawyer, even if they were not injured in the accident.
Some cases, like a simple fender-bender, are easily resolved with the insurance company. In other non-injury situations, however, consulting with an attorney is a good idea.
We have compiled the following list of instances when it is wise to have car accident attorneys like Hipskind & McAninch review the details of the crash. Doing so could make a big difference in receiving fair and full compensation.
It Is Not Always Clear Who Is At Fault
An at-fault driver and their insurance company are responsible for damages to the other driver’s car, as well as any personal injuries. What seems like a clear-cut, non-injury case could get complicated if the at-fault driver tries to blame the victim—or claims they sustained injuries themselves.
A car accident lawyer can investigate the facts of a case to help determine fault. If both drivers are partly to blame, they can assess how the comparative negligence rules of the state will figure into compensation. Comparative negligence assigns a percentage of fault to each driver when they both contributed to the accident. These rules are different for Illinois and Missouri. They can also demand proof of personal injury from the other driver, and defend the victim against a counter-claim of liability.
Another situation where a car accident attorney’s skills are useful is a hit-and-run. The at-fault driver might never be located, but lawyers can negotiate with the driver’s insurance company for full compensation.
It is rare, but a non-injury accident could result in criminal charges and punitive damages. If a crash is the result of intentional, malicious conduct, the victim definitely wants to hire an attorney, even if they were not physically harmed.
The Insurance Company Might Dispute the Facts
Insurance companies often make a low-ball offer to settle a claim quickly and cheaply. They may undervalue the car or underestimate the amount of damage. They could try to force the use of a specific repair shop that the driver feels is inconvenient or untrustworthy.
When the insured is not injured in the accident, it might be tempting to avoid the hassle and accept the first offer without making sure it covers all of the losses. But once a settlement is accepted, it is unlikely it can be reversed.
A car accident lawyer can make sure that compensation is fair. If it isn’t, they can challenge the offer and negotiate on behalf of the driver for a better resolution.
Some Costs Are Not Covered By Insurance
A car accident without personal injury can still be expensive. If the car is totaled, or in the repair shop for an extended period of time, a car rental might be necessary. Some insurance policies cover this, but some do not.
Being without transportation could mean missing work and having to find alternative transportation for one’s children. It can be especially inconvenient for people who make their living with their car. Rideshare providers and delivery drivers might be prohibited from using a rental car to do their jobs.
Filing insurance claims for expenses beyond car repair costs can be difficult when no one is injured in the accident. An attorney can help structure a request for compensation that includes these things as well as reimbursement for deductibles and even postponed or canceled trips that resulted from the accident.
When the Accident Was Exceptionally Traumatic
Personal injuries can be psychological rather than physical. Being involved in a car crash can be a traumatic experience, even for someone not injured in the accident.
When the event is violent and disturbing, the victim has not only experienced a frightening “close call,” but they may also have witnessed the severe injuries or death of others involved. This can lead to mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and PTSD, even though they were physically unharmed.
Both Missouri and Illinois have “bystander rules” allowing compensation for victims in these types of situations termed Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress (NIED). These cases are complex, requiring proof that a victim was in the “zone of physical danger” and that their illness is the result of emotional distress connected to the crash. An experienced car accident lawyer will know how to approach and argue an NIED claim.
There May Be Hidden or Delayed Personal Injury
A victim might think they were not injured in the accident, but are they absolutely sure?
The shock of a car crash can result in a rush of adrenaline. Adrenaline can mask pain, making a victim think they are fine. Once things calm down and the initial danger has passed, the true extent of the injuries begins to show. This might happen within hours, or it could take days or weeks for injured parts of the body to start hurting.
A car accident lawyer can make sure the victim gets reimbursed for all medical bills, time away from work, and other costs. But first, it’s necessary to find out the extent of the injuries.
Even if injuries are obvious they may be mistaken for something minor. For example, what appears to be an ankle sprain could actually be a fracture. A victim could make it worse by continuing to put weight on it, assuming the pain and swelling will go away.
The more violent the impact of the vehicles involved, the greater the chance of a personal injury, even if one doesn’t show up immediately. Even after a minor accident, it is a good idea to have a medical professional rule out any injuries and the possibility of complications. This is especially true for pregnant women, who will want to make sure that their baby is not harmed.
Don’t Bother With a Car Accident Lawyer In These Situations
There are three instances when it does not make sense to contact a car accident lawyer.
- If there clearly are no injuries, the other driver is being cooperative, and both drivers have insurance, it can likely be resolved through the insurance companies.
- If a driver seeks medical attention (something we always recommend) and is told they are fine, or at most need some minor first aid and rest, there is probably no need to involve a car accident lawyer.
- If the amount of potential damages is small. Attorneys typically work on a contingency basis, charging roughly 30% of the damages received. If the amount of compensation is minimal, it does not make financial sense to hire a lawyer—and many attorneys will turn down such a case.
Better Safe Than Sorry
Hipskind & McAninch, like most personal injury attorneys, will review a case for free. There is no harm in scheduling a consultation regarding a non-injury car accident just to make sure all the bases are covered. The consultation consists of our legal team asking questions and finding out if the case has merit. At Hipskind & McAninch, we are honest about whether our involvement will improve an accident victim’s chances of receiving a settlement or cash award.If you or someone you know has been in an accident, contact Hipskind & McAninch. We’ll be happy to discuss it.