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Small Claims Auto Accident 101: First Steps

This is part one of a two-part series on what to expect when you’re handling a small claims auto accident case. The first post covers the first steps in dealing with your case, from collecting evidence at the scene of the accident to documenting your injuries and treatment. The second post will cover writing your demand letter and negotiating with the insurance adjuster.

How to Handle a Small Claims Car Accident

Occasionally, potential clients come in to my Asheville personal injury law firm asking for advice on a car accident claim that they could easily handle on their own. It often surprises people when I recommend dealing with small claims auto accident cases without an attorney. This is usually a complex process, but it can be done.

The truth is that going it alone is often the best thing for people with small claims, who can recover compensation for car accident bills without having to hand over a major part of it to a lawyer for legal fees. The typical attorney’s fee for personal injury case settlements is 33% of whatever is recovered, so a settlement of $5,000 would result in $1,650 in legal fees. That leaves only $3,350 for you to cover your bills, lost wages and other expenses.

Settling your own auto injury claim is not always a good idea. In very few cases do I recommend a person handle a personal injury case without an attorney. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Has the other driver admitted fault?
  • Did your medical bills and property damage bills come to less than $5,000 altogether?
  • Did you visit an emergency room, urgent care or primary care doctor immediately after your accident?
  • Do your doctors believe that your injuries were caused by your auto accident instead of being pre-existing injuries?

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