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Car accident - Don’t want to be out-of-pocket

I was in an auto accident. I was not at fault and don’t want to end up out-of-pocket. Do I need a lawyer?

- RB, California


If the accident was not your fault, you should not be forced to suffer the financial consequences. The other driver's insurance company is on the hook for your bills. That means:

  • Property damage related bills: repair bill, total loss of your vehicle, rental bill, towing bill, deductible, diminished value, etc.
  • Medical bills: ER and doctor bills, co-pays, prescription medication costs, etc. (If your health insurance paid for any of your accident-related medical bills, you should know that they have a right to reimbursement for what they paid if you end up collecting money from the other driver's insurance company. Expect a questionnaire sent to you on behalf of your health insurance carrier which will ask if your medical bills were accident-related, and putting you on notice of their reimbursement claim.)
  • Lost wages: if you miss time from work due to the accident and your injuries, the other driver's insurance company has to pay you for your time off work.

Do you need to hire an attorney to fight for the money you are owed?

Whether you need to hire a lawyer after a car accident depends on the size of the claim. If it was a minor accident and you incurred no medical bills (only property damage related bills), or you did incur medical bills but your injuries were not serious and your bills are low, then you probably don't need an attorney. And frankly, the claim is likely too small for a lawyer to handle.

The more serious your injuries…the higher your medical bills and lost wages – then you will likely be better off having an attorney representing you. The attorney will make sure you are compensated for all of your losses. That means not only your out-of-pocket losses, but also for your pain and suffering.

If you were in a car accident and are not sure if you need a lawyer, my advice is to run it by a personal injury lawyer. You are welcome to call our firm for a free consultation. We will give you our honest opinion on whether it makes sense for you to hire an attorney, or whether you don't need one.

This answer does not constitute legal advice, which can only be rendered after a full consideration of the facts of your case which is not possible in this format; nor establish an attorney-client relationship, which can only be done after you and an attorney meet and agree on the terms of that relationship. This answer is intended solely to provide general information about the justice system. Further, it does not provide the basis for making decisions about a course of action. Before making any decisions about a course of action readers are strongly encouraged to contact a lawyer and secure an attorney-client relationship. Readers must also understand that this format does not provide for confidential communication. Moreover, links to information on this site are for your convenience only and are not an endorsement or recommendation of those sites, and no responsibility is taken for any information at these linked sites, nor makes any representation or warranty with respect to these sites or the information contained therein.