What to expect in your case

Do I need a lawyer?

The short answer is, maybe not. If you are not injured and either your insurance company or the other driver's carrier is paying for your car, a lawyer probably cannot do you much good. If you are slightly injured and recover quickly the same is true. You can probably do as well on your own, and you won't have to pay a lawyer. If you take that route, read our section on auto insurance so you know your rights.

If you have the misfortune to be seriously injured, you should at least consult with an attorney. There is too much at stake not to at least get some advice. In the long run, if there is adequate insurance, you will probably come out much better with an attorney's help.

What if you are injured, but seem to be getting better? This can be a close call. I generally suggest to clients that if they are fine in six weeks to six months, they can probably do OK on their own. A lot depends on the client. Some people change their own oil, build their own bookshelves and generally like to do things themselves. Some would rather not be bothered with dealing with health insurance subrogation, gathering medical records, and the like

If I need a lawyer, who do I hire?

We are blessed in this state to have a lot of good lawyers. Naturally, do not go by the biggest billboard, the loudest TV commercial or the slickest add in the phone book. Check them out. How many cases like yours have they actually tried to a jury? Are they board certified? What professional organizations do they belong to?

Next, what kind of firm do you want representing you? There are basically two choices. There are large, advertising firms and there are smaller boutique firms. There are advantages to both. The large, advertising firms will not give you the personnel attention the boutique firm will. You will be dealing mainly with paralegals in these firms and may never actually meet an attorney. Still, if you have a routine car wreck, with limited damages they may be a good choice. They will get you the average settlement for a case like yours and they will have an efficient organization to accomplish that. That is their business model. Some of these firms employ good trial lawyers as well. Again, do your due diligence.

The advantage of a boutique firm, and here I am prejudiced since that is what we are, will give your case a lot more personal attention. You will know your attorney intimately and will have a lot greater access to their time. Still, check them out just as thoroughly.