Should I Hire a Lawyer After a Minor Car Accident in Kansas City?

No one can tell you when you need to hire a lawyer after a car accident. But you should consider talking to a lawyer after any accident that produces injuries.

Fortunately, most injury lawyers offer a free consultation to new clients. This will allow you to discuss your particular situation with someone who has relevant legal experience. Only then will you have the information to know whether you should hire a lawyer.

Here is some information about the factors you should consider when hiring a lawyer after a minor car accident in Kansas City.

The Role of the Injury Lawyer

A lawyer does more than trial advocacy. Some of the services lawyers provide include:

  • Legal advice and counsel
  • Negotiation
  • Representation against insurance companies

Most importantly, injury lawyers have experience with car accidents. They can often predict potential outcomes based on their prior cases. This advice can help you decide how to proceed.

How Can a Lawyer Help After a Minor Accident?

Lawyers and insurance companies have no standard definition for a minor accident. An accident that you view as minor might expose the at-fault driver and their insurer to substantial liability.

Instead, insurers classify accidents based on which benefits they need to pay. Accidents usually fall into three categories:

  • Property damage only (PDO)
  • Bodily injury
  • Death

If your minor car accident only caused PDO, you probably do not need an injury lawyer. Some injury lawyers will help you file a property damage claim as part of your injury claim. However, most will refer you to an insurance lawyer or general practitioner for a PDO accident.

If your accident resulted in injuries, you should consider speaking to an injury lawyer. Your situation might justify hiring a lawyer even if you think the accident was minor.

No Health Insurance or Bad Health Insurance

Health insurance can save your life after a car accident. But health insurance benefits usually require you to pay a copay or meet a deductible. This produces an unfair outcome where you must pay for some, if not all, of your medical expenses from an accident caused by someone else.

Worse yet, if you have no health insurance, you face a difficult decision. You can forego medical treatment and risk your health. Alternatively, you can seek medical treatment and pay out-of-pocket.

A little-known fact about the American medical system is that two-thirds of bankruptcies result from unpaid medical bills. A minor car accident could result in thousands of dollars in medical debt if you lack health insurance.

If you have no health insurance, you should consider speaking to a lawyer to avoid medical debt. Similarly, if your health insurance has a high deductible or high copay, you should consult a lawyer.

Rejected Insurance Claim

You might have assumed that you could handle your insurance claim after a minor car accident. But perhaps the at-fault driver’s insurer rejected the claim, and now, you face having to pay your medical bills on your own.

Insurers do not treat any accident as “minor.” Insurers must investigate all claims with the same diligence, whether they involve bruises or a brain injury.

If you file an insurance claim, the insurer will fight equally hard against $3,000 in medical bills or $30,000 in medical bills. If the insurer rejects your claim, you should consider talking to a lawyer.

Messy Liability

If a minor car accident has multiple causes, you should consider contacting a lawyer to discuss your case. A lawyer can work with multiple insurance companies to make sure that each pays its share of your compensation.

More importantly, if you contributed to the accident, a lawyer can document your case to help you receive the greatest compensation possible while minimizing your exposure to claims from others.

Missouri uses comparative fault to allocate damages after an accident. This means that your share of the fault will diminish the compensation you can receive. For example, if you bear 25% of the fault for an accident, you can only get 75% of your damages.

A lawyer can evaluate your exposure and help you assemble the evidence to get a fair outcome in your case.

Worsening or Hidden Injuries

Strange things can happen after a traumatic injury. Over time, your injuries might worsen or hidden injuries might emerge.

Torn cartilage in your knee could start with minor pain and stiffness. But as the cartilage wears away, you could face surgery and a lifetime of arthritis in the knee.

Similarly, a bump on the head might seem minor at the time. But brain injuries can remain hidden for days after an accident. Some symptoms only emerge after the brain begins to swell from brain trauma.

Other hidden injuries might seem unconnected to your minor accident. You might attribute numbness in your fingers to carpal tunnel or some other cause. More importantly, you might not attribute it to your minor car accident. But a pinched nerve in your neck from a minor accident can lead to spinal cord injuries and nerve damage.

Discussing Your Case with an Injury Lawyer

Most injury lawyers offer free consultations. You should consider scheduling a few consultations with different lawyers to discuss your case.

During your consultations, you can explain your accident and your injuries. You can also explain your situation with your medical bills and income losses. A lawyer can evaluate the merits of your case and the compensation you could receive.

You might find that your minor car accident involves more than a minor amount of economic damage. A lawyer can help you understand the scope of your case so you can decide how to proceed.

You may choose not to hire a lawyer for your minor car accident. But a free consultation with an injury lawyer can give you the full picture before you decide.