This is one we get all the time. And I’ll give you the classic lawyer answer that makes all people hate lawyers: Maybe. Maybe not.

Here you go: If your case is REALLY simple—I mean, you’re not hurt, you didn’t miss work, the person who hit you accepted responsibility at the collision scene and YOU HAVE PROOF, their insurance company is being really nice to you, your property damage is minimal, and you want to wrap things up in like a week or two. Then no, you probably don’t need a lawyer. 

Just call up the insurance company (what we lawyers call the “liability carrier”) and ask them to pay for your car repairs, rental car, PLUS an amount for your inconvenience and they will probably offer to pay for your car repairs, a few days of rental, and a thousand bucks. Not bad. But not good either. But hey, if this is cool with you, knock yourself out. 

BUT...If you got hurt AT ALL, missed work, the driver who hit you was wishy-washy at the scene or is lying about hitting you, their insurance company is being a bunch of bozos, or if your car is really messed up and you think you might have a diminished value claim (the difference between what your car was worth before the wreck and what it’s worth after repairs), then YOU ABSO-FLIPPIN’-LUTELY NEED A LAWYER. 

I know you’re smart, but do you really understand all the ins-and-outs of what you can claim for damages and what they’re worth. Not to mention the skills necessary to collect the evidence that will be admissible at trial to PROVE the other driver caused this wreck?

So, unless you’d suture yourself up—Rambo-style—if you took a bullet to your shoulder, don’t try to stitch your serious case together without a lawyer.