If you have a minor injury, received little or no treatment, and it’s clear that the other driver is at fault, you should get fairly quick results without legal help. The other driver’s insurance adjuster will ask you for a statement regarding the facts of the accident and your injuries; also, for medical bills and reports, proof of lost time at work, and other paperwork relevant to your claim. The adjuster should make you an offer based on all documented expenses of your injury, so getting the paperwork together is crucial.
If your injury is more than just minor, or liability (fault) is unclear or in dispute, it makes sense to consult an experienced auto accident attorney before negotiating with the insurance company. Be up front. Ask the lawyer if it is worth his or her professional time or if you can settle it yourself. If you handle it yourself, the lawyer can make recommendations to maximize the settlement.
An attorney is trained to investigate and evaluate the facts of the accident. Most importantly, an attorney can tell you what your claim is worth and guide you through the legal process. A good lawyer will not talk you into suing anyone or making a claim for damages to which you are not entitled.
Keep in mind if you deal directly with the insurance company, the other driver’s adjuster owes you zero duty to see that you are fairly compensated. His or her job depends on paying you as little as possible. If you are offered an unfair settlement, you can still hire an auto accident attorney to counter that bad offer with the threat of litigation.