In the aftermath of a car accident, it’s usually beneficial to consult with a personal injury attorney. Most lawyers offer free consultations so crash victims can obtain a professional opinion of the situation without any monetary investment. The average person likely does not know federal, state, and local laws regarding car accidents and may not realize he or she has grounds to file a lawsuit against a negligent party until talking to an accident attorney. That being said, however, there are certain car accidents where hiring a lawyer isn’t necessary.

Don’t Hire: If There Aren’t Any Damages

If you didn’t sustain a personal injury or significant property damage (those exceeding $5,000-$10,000), you don’t need an attorney to resolve your case. Your car insurance company will walk you through their claims process online or over the phone, assessing your vehicle’s damages and settling your case accordingly. If nobody suffered an injury or other major damages, there’s no reason to pursue a personal injury claim. If the other driver disclosed insurance information and you are going through an insurance claim, this should be enough to cover the damages to your car. Unless the other driver decides to leave the scene or give you incorrect information, your claim can be dealt with by insurance companies.

Hire: If There Are Serious Damages

In any car accident where there has been serious injury or expensive property damage, it’s in your best interest to hire an injury lawyer. If you suffered a broken bone, head or brain injury, or an injury that costs you significant time away from work, you need the help of an attorney to receive full compensation for your losses. If your injuries will likely cause permanent disability, always hire a lawyer to represent your case. Insurance companies might only give you enough to cover some medical bills, but an attorney can make sure you get enough compensation to cover future suffering from the accident damages.

Don’t Hire: If it Was a Minor Accident

A simple, clear-cut fender bender in which the other driver readily admits fault and gives you his or her car insurance information does not require a lawyer’s services. In minor car accidents where there is no question of who is to blame and who will pay for damages, there’s no need to use litigation to come to a settlement agreement. The other driver’s car insurance company will handle the claim and issue you a check for your property damage. Even if you did have to see a doctor for a possible whiplash injury, the insurance company should be able to cover your doctor visits.

Hire: If the Crash Involves Product Liability

If you believe a defective product, such as your vehicle’s brakes, caused your accident, hire a lawyer. You will need help understanding relevant theories of liability, and an attorney can tell you what to expect in a California product liability case. If more than one person has suffered the same type of defect, or if the company issued a recall, you may have a class action lawsuit on your hands. Partner with an attorney who understands the intricacies of product liability laws for car accidents defects cause. Another scenario would be if you were hit by an object that flew off of a truck or car, if it was a truck tire for example, there is a chance the truck was not inspected properly and you would need an attorney to help you investigate and determine fault.

Don’t Hire: If a Claim Isn’t Worth the Trouble

Even if you have suffered losses in an accident, they may not be great enough to be worth the time and money investment of pursuing a personal injury claim. If your injuries are minor, such as bruising or minor scratches, it would not be worth the price of a lawsuit. Only damages that caused significant injury, emotional distress, lost time at work, or temporary or permanent disability are typically worth a lawsuit.

Hire: If There Are Complex Car Insurance Issues

If you’re in an accident involving more than one car insurance company, no insurance at all, or while you were driving a car you didn’t have permission to drive, you should hire a car accident lawyer. Driving your friend’s car may seem innocent enough, but liability laws make borrowing someone else’s car a legal issue. If your insurance company is giving you issues while filing your claim or tries to assign fault when the other driver caused the accident, call an attorney.

Hire: When in Doubt

If you have any doubts about whether or not you need an attorney following a car accident, hire one for peace of mind. A local accident attorney can offer legal counsel and take over communication with insurance adjusters. Hiring a lawyer after a car accident is the best way to protect your rights and recover damages from a negligent party. Many lawyers also offer free consultations, so you can check in with them and make sure that you are making the right choice on either dealing with a claim yourself, or if you really need an attorney. Every situation is different, and you really don’t know when you may face some of these situation, so it’s best to know this information even if you have not been in an accident.