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In many cases, you do not need to file a lawsuit after a car accident. If one driver was clearly at fault and nobody has been injured, it is likely that the at-fault insurance company will give compensation without the need to go to court. So, when do you need a lawyer after a car accident?

You should consult a lawyer if you have grounds to seek a settlement in court. A reputable attorney can help you figure out how to get the most money for a car accident. Even if you do not take your case to court, it may be in your best interest to contact a lawyer if the insurance company makes a low settlement offer and negotiations are necessary.

This article will provide some examples of when you should and shouldn’t contact a lawyer after a car accident. If you want an estimate of how much your case may be worth or are looking for a lawyer to provide you a free consultation, fill out the form below.


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When Do You Need A Lawyer After A Car Accident?

If you are at fault for an accident and the other driver decides to sue you, you will need a lawyer to defend you. In this case, it is likely that your auto insurance company will provide a car accident attorney for you, but keep in mind that an insurance company’s lawyer works first in the best interest of the insurer and in your interests secondarily. Even if your insurance company provides a lawyer, you may want to hire your own attorney if you can afford it.

If you are not responsible for an accident and feel that the at-fault driver’s insurance company has not offered you enough compensation, you may decide to take the case to court. Suing after car accidents is more common for cases when drivers incur pain and suffering damages and high medical bills. You may also decide to open a wrongful death suit if anyone in your vehicle was killed in the crash.

If any of the following is true about an accident, you may want to speak with a lawyer:

  • Your injuries required you to miss work.
  • Someone was killed.
  • You sustained major injuries or required medical treatment as a result of the crash.
  • The injuries you sustained during the crash are expected to have a long-term impact on your quality of life.

When Don't You Need A Lawyer After A Car Accident?

If you are at fault for an accident and nobody is suing you, there is no reason to hire a lawyer.

If you are not at fault, you still may not need a lawyer. After you file an insurance claim, you’ll only need to hire an attorney if the at-fault party’s insurance company refuses to pay what you believe you are owed.

If the following is true of an accident, it is unlikely that the insurance company will lowball you:

  • There was only property damage, and nobody was hurt or killed.
  • You suffered minor or no physical injuries.
  • The settlement you deserve is relatively small.

Conclusion: Do You Need A Lawyer After A Car Accident?

You are not legally obligated to hire a lawyer after a car accident. The only reason you need a lawyer after a car accident is if you are being sued or decide to sue the other driver.

If you are unsure as to whether you should hire a lawyer, reach out for a consultation. Many personal injury lawyers offer free consultations in which they can review your case and give you legal advice on how to proceed. 

You can use the tool below to find out how much your claim may be worth and get access to a local law firm for a free consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions About Car Accidents

Should you hire an attorney after a car accident?

You are not required to hire an attorney after a car accident. In most cases, in fact, it is unnecessary. Start by filing an insurance claim and proceed from there. If you are offered a settlement that you feel is unjustly low, you should hire a lawyer to negotiate on your behalf. 

You may also need a lawyer after a car accident if you were injured in the crash or if you were at fault and another driver is suing you.

How long do I have to get an attorney after a car accident?

All states have statutes of limitations that restrict how long after an accident you can sue. In the following table, you’ll find each state’s statute of limitations for personal auto injury suits.

Statute of Limitations
for Personal Injury Cases (Auto)


1 year

Louisiana, Tennessee

2 years

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California , Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Nevada, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia

3 years

Arkansas, Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin

4 years

Florida, Nebraska, Utah, Wyoming

5 years


6 years

Maine, Minnesota, North Dakota


Do I need an attorney for a minor car accident?

It is unlikely that you’ll need an attorney after a minor car accident. Unless you are being sued, there is no reason to hire an attorney.

Is it worth getting a car accident lawyer?

It is worth getting a car accident lawyer if you have been offered a low settlement after filing an insurance claim. An attorney will negotiate with an insurance company on your behalf and will be of great assistance if you decide to take your car accident case to court.

The more serious the personal injury claim, the more valuable a lawyer will be. For minor car accidents in which nobody was hurt, it is unlikely that you will need to hire a lawyer. If you suffered serious medical damages in an accident that you feel have impacted your quality of life, a lawyer is a great idea.

As far as car accident lawyer fees go, many accident attorneys will work on a contingency basis, often asking for around a third of the final settlement. Most lawyers also offer free consultations.


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