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Do you really need an attorney for a simple car accident case?

If you've been injured in a car accident, the process for recovering for your injuries may seem pretty straightforward: Wait until you heal, negotiate a little with the other driver's insurance company, sign a few papers and settle your claim.

Should you really hire an attorney just to do that?

The problem is that something that seems simple may turn out to be a lot more complicated than you initially realize. Mistakes that you make early on in the process may come back to haunt you if it turns out that you can't reach a settlement agreement with the insurance company that will keep you out of court.

Negotiating a fair settlement can be a tricky process because the insurance adjuster's job is to protect the insurance company's interests. While he or she might genuinely be a decent, compassionate person, you can't forget that his or her livelihood depends on how low he or she can manage to settle claims.

That could lead the insurance adjuster to try to undervalue your claim from the very start. If you're doing your own negotiations, everything you say ends up being recorded or written down. Something that you take as a polite pleasantry can end up being used as "evidence" that you weren't seriously hurt.

For example, imagine that the insurance adjuster asks how you are doing, and you reply, "Fine, thanks." Several phone calls later when you tell the adjuster that you're still suffering from neck pain, the adjuster pulls out the transcript of your earlier conversation and says, "It must not be related to the accident because you were fine when I talked to you three weeks ago."

Part of an attorney's job is to protect you from that kind of interaction. If you don't talk to the adjuster personally, nothing you say can be used against you when you try to settle the case.

Similarly, if the insurance company makes you a poor settlement offer, it might be necessary to write a demand letter. A demand letter lays out exactly what losses you suffered and asks for a more reasonable settlement. An attorney knows how to put all of the facts of your case into perspective and lay them out to your advantage in order to negotiate a fair payment.

For more information on how we approach car accident cases, please visit our webpages.

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Seidman Margulis & Fairman, LLP

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