You don't always need an attorney. We routinely consult (free of charge) with injured people who are simply questioning if they need help in the first place. If we believe that the case does not require attorney involvement, we'll say so. Often, that is the best advice we can give. These types of cases tend to involve minor injuries and straightforward facts.
Generally, we believe that an attorney can help in the following cases: (1) serious injury or death; (2) liability disputes: if the insurance company disputes the fault of their driver, or is trying to claim that you were partially at fault; (3) insurance coverage issues: where the opposing insurance company denies coverage for any reason, if the opposing driver is uninsured, or if there is any coverage dispute between 2 or more insurance companies; (4) drunk driving cases; (5) trucking cases; (6) any case in which you believe the insurance company is not acting in good faith, or is delaying the settlement process, or is making inconsistent statements.
Keep in mind as well that a personal injury case is an adversarial process. An insurance company is well funded and sophisticated. They have access to excellent defense attorneys. In most cases, they have no legal obligation to cooperate and settle with an injured party. Instead, they have the luxury of waiting to see what an injured victim will do to help herself. In the right case, this is where an attorney can help. In short, you don't always need an attorney. In the right case, an attorney will make the difference. In any event, you should feel free to schedule a consultation (free of charge) to discuss your options.