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When Do I Need a Lawyer For a Car Accident?

Louisville Injury Lawyer Breaks Down Car Accident Lawsuits

Video Transcript:

Tad Thomas:

You know, I'd like to say that there's times when you don't need an attorney, but the fact of the matter is, the vast majority of times you will.

Rob Rosenthal:

So how do you know if you need a lawyer after an auto accident? Well, we're going to find out right now because that's what we're going to ask the lawyer.

Hi again, everybody. I'm Rob Rosenthal with askthelawyers.com, and my guest is Kentucky attorney, Tad Thomas. Tad, good to see you again. Thanks for helping us out.

Tad Thomas:

Good to see you, Rob.

Rob Rosenthal:

So, after an auto accident, is it always necessary to call an attorney? Is there a level of seriousness that may be the deciding factor? Help us out there.

Tad Thomas:

You know, I'd like to say that there's times when you don't need an attorney, but the fact of the matter is, the vast majority of times you will. The insurance companies have studies that show the clients that have attorney representation typically have higher payouts than those that don't. So there are very rare situations when you wouldn't need an attorney, but it's always important to at least call one and kind of feel them out and you can decide for yourself.

Rob Rosenthal:

So maybe rather than just like, “Oh, I’ll ask my brother-in-law, see what he thinks,” because it doesn't cost anything to call you and say, “Hey, do I have something here or not?”

Tad Thomas:

Sure. You know, for instance, I've had cases where there's very severe injuries, but there's not a lot of insurance on the other side, and so when those clients call up, I say, “Well, there's really nothing I can do to help you. Here's what you need to do step-by-step to make sure that you get full compensation.” Then if they have any problems, they can always call me back.

Rob Rosenthal:

I have a Facebook friend that I saw just this morning. She posted a picture of her car, she said it was a year ago that she was in a hit and run, and she still hasn't gotten resolved with her insurance company from medical bills and that sort of thing. So I just wanted to say call an attorney, it's been a year. You need to do something.

Tad Thomas:

Yeah, absolutely. And they will. They'll drag it out because the statute of limitations in every state says after a particular day, you can't recover. So they may be intentionally drawing her out just waiting to see if she doesn't know that.

Rob Rosenthal:

Can individuals negotiate with their insurance company or another insurance company? Does it work differently with the individual as opposed to an attorney?

Tad Thomas:

Sure, that’s perfectly acceptable. But you’ve got to remember that you're dealing with someone on the other side that does it every day, and you may not have ever done it. So they know all the tricks, they know what the value of your claim is, and they know what they can do to drive down what that payout is. So yeah, it's certainly up to you to negotiate if you want without having an attorney, but you don't have the advantage of that knowledge that they have on the other side.

Rob Rosenthal:

So someone is listening to you, Tad, and they go, “I know I need to contact an attorney. How do I decide who the right—in this case, car accident—attorney is?” Is there some sort of rule of thumb?

Tad Thomas:

Yeah. You know, look on their websites and find out who handles a lot of these types of cases. You should be looking for an attorney that if that’s not all they do, it's a large portion of what they do, and that they've actually tried cases in that area; they've actually tried motor vehicle cases, because we all know that the attorneys that really litigate and push their clients' cases when they have to are the ones that get the best results for their clients.

Rob Rosenthal:

So you're talking about the distinction I sometimes see made there. You’re talking about a trial attorney. Explain a little bit about what that means.

Tad Thomas:

Sure. A trial attorney is one that will actually take your case, if you don't get a fair offer in settlement before litigation, they will file a complaint on your behalf; they will take depositions and do what we call discovery, and ultimately go to a trial and represent you in front of a jury who will ultimately decide the case for you.

Rob Rosenthal:

Do the insurance companies know which attorneys are willing to go to trial and which ones are just going to be quick settlers?

Tad Thomas:

That's a great question, Rob. Absolutely. They have internal databases; they know which attorneys take cheap settlements and which ones file suit because that weighs on their valuation of the case, and those attorneys that essentially cost them more money by litigating a case, taking it to trial and forcing them to pay full value, they're going to get better offers on the front end as well.

Rob Rosenthal:

So that may be an answer to my next question, and you might have answered it earlier. So, you start talking about attorneys’ fees, why is it worth it? And how is it worth it for somebody to hire an attorney when there's going to be fees rather than do it themselves?

Tad Thomas:

Sure. Again, the studies that are out there from the insurance companies themselves show that those payouts are higher, so you can settle the case on your own for $100 and not pay an attorney's fee, or you can go out and get $500 with an attorney and pay a third. Well, you still end up in a better position than you would have been negotiating the case yourself.

Rob Rosenthal:

We've covered this in the past, but I think it's worth repeating. There's no cost to find out if you have a case and there's no cost if there’s no recovery, right?

Tad Thomas:

There shouldn't be. When you're searching for attorneys, look for attorneys that are willing to give you a free consultation to begin with, and talk about your case, and let you know whether or not they think that it's necessary for you to have an attorney. I've certainly had people call that I've said, “You don't need one, and here's why.” You should also be hiring attorneys that work on what's called a contingent fee basis, meaning they're only getting paid if they're successful in getting a recovery for you in the case.

Rob Rosenthal:

Lots of great information as usual, Tad. Thanks so much for helping us out again.

Tad Thomas:

Thanks for having me on.

Rob Rosenthal:

That's going to do it for this episode of Ask the Lawyer. My guest has been Kentucky attorney Tas Thomas.

Remember, if you want the very best information or you just like the idea of being able to choose a lawyer that lawyers choose, make sure to go to askthelawyers.com. Thanks for watching, everybody. I'm Rob Rosenthal with AskTheLawyers™.

Disclaimer: This video is for informational purposes only. In some states, this video may be deemed Attorney Advertising. The choice of lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

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