When to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
Sadly, countless individuals suffer injuries every day because of another person or party’s carelessness or poor judgment. For example:
Other incidents that can cause personal injuries include:
When to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
If someone else injured you or a loved one, you have a legal right to expect the responsible party to compensate you for your damages. If this recently happened, you might be wondering if you can handle your claim on your own or if you should rely on an attorney. The answer is almost always that you should contact an injury attorney
for a free case evaluation.Never assume that you don't need an attorney and fail to seek a consultation with one. Most personal injury lawyers provide free consultations to injured victims to determine if hiring a lawyer is best for their case. You want an attorney to review your case even if you think you want to handle your claim without legal help. A personal injury lawyer has many extensive skills and resources to help you get maximum compensation for your injuries. You can learn more about the benefits of representation during your consultation.
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Should You Settle Your Claim Yourself?
Suppose you suffered only minor injuries, and there is a clear liability in your case. In that case, you might assume you can settle it directly with the insurance company without the assistance of a lawyer. This is a mistake. Even seemingly minor injuries or claims can leave you with costly losses. The insurance company will always try to minimize your settlement, and you might underestimate your losses. Though you assumed your injuries were not a big deal, you might face bills and future losses that the liable party should cover if you accept an inadequate settlement. A lawyer will know how much you should receive and advise you whether a settlement offer is sufficient. This ensures you will not have to pay losses and costs out of your pocket following your claim. All injury victims can benefit from hiring a seasoned personal injury lawyer to protect their interests. You might assume that only people with severe or catastrophic injury claims need a lawyer, but this is incorrect. If you incurred any medical bills or other losses from your injuries, you should hire a personal injury attorney. This is true even for sprains or other injuries that seem minor to you. If you have losses, you want someone seeking full compensation for those losses. You can bet the insurance company will try to shortchange you, so having an advocate can improve your chances of full compensation.
Other Reasons Why You Should Not Manage Your Claim Alone
Some injuries might seem minor, including:
You might assume it makes more financial sense to settle these types of injury claims on your own. Many people think that paying for legal counsel out of a modest insurance settlement may not be worth it. This is - again - an incorrect assumption. In most cases, a lawyer increases your take-home amount, even after legal fees. This is because a lawyer knows how to negotiate a significantly higher settlement than what the insurance company will offer unrepresented claimants. Insurers will use tactics on claimants without representation, so:
- If an insurance adjuster tells you there is no need to hire, it is because they do not want someone with legal experience fighting for a higher settlement.
- If the insurer makes a quick offer to resolve your claim “as soon as possible,” it is a trick. They might act like they are doing you a favor by resolving matters fast, but the settlement is usually much lower than you need or deserve.
- Once the insurance company convinces an unrepresented claimant to accept a low offer, the claimant waives their rights to seek additional funds. This often leaves them responsible for losses the settlement should have covered.
Avoid falling victim to such tactics by having a lawyer on your side from the start of the process.
Additional Reasons Why You Should Not Handle Your Claim Independently
Time and Energy
You don’t need to be experienced in personal injury law to file an insurance claim, but filing a claim requires diligence, commitment, and organization. Claimants will need to prepare and obtain evidence such as:
- Medical records
- Police reports
- Witness testimony
- Expert opinions
You will also need to communicate regularly with adjusters, respond to document requests, negotiate with the insurance adjuster, and possibly speak to others at the insurance company or other parties involved. This process can drag on for months, and this is the last thing you want to handle. You already have doctor’s appointments, physical therapy sessions, and orders from your physician to take it easy. The time and energy necessary to properly handle a claim is not something you have at this time.
The Ability to Gather and Organize Evidence
Solid and convincing evidence is imperative to any injury claim. Gathering sufficient evidence begins as soon as you realize you have injuries. Evidence proves to the insurance carrier that you sustained an injury and that their insured was at fault. However, gathering this evidence is no simple process without the right resources and experience. A lawyer can help you gather all the evidence to prove your claim. This can include:
- Evidence of liability - If liability is in dispute, your attorney can gather witness statements, video surveillance footage, expert opinions, and more to demonstrate that the policyholder was liable for your injuries.
- Evidence of your losses - Even if liability is clear, the insurance company will try to minimize your losses. Your lawyer can provide evidence of your medical bills, lost wages, and other financial costs and prove your non-economic losses like pain and suffering.
Identifying and obtaining necessary evidence of liability and losses is more challenging than most people think, so you want a lawyer to handle this process.
The Skills and Ability to Negotiate a Settlement
Negotiating a settlement begins with calculating a fair settlement amount, which is complicated. Your lawyer will start by estimating the total cost of your medical expenses, related out-of-pocket costs, lost wages and income, and any other expenses related to your injuries. Then, they might multiply that sum by one to five (depending on the severity of your injuries) to get the amount you should receive for injury-related pain and suffering. If you have future losses, your lawyer can enlist the help of experts to estimate these damages. Once you and your personal injury lawyer determine how much you will settle your claim for, they will draft a demand letter and send it to the insurance company, along with evidence to back up your demands. You can expect that the insurance adjuster will usually present you with a much lower counteroffer. Back-and-forth negotiations will continue until you agree to a settlement. If the claims adjuster makes unreasonable demands for more information about your claim or won’t stop with a low settlement offer, your personal injury attorney knows how to address the situation. You have a legal right to talk to a personal injury attorney at any time during the negotiation process, as long as you haven't yet signed a settlement agreement. Once you sign this agreement, it is legally binding, and your claim is over. You can't go back and ask for more money for any reason - even if you didn't know the full extent of your injuries when you settled or wish you had consulted with an attorney. If you have already started a claim without a personal injury lawyer, it is never too late to hire one for help with the rest of the process.
How Can You Pay for Legal Representation?
Most personal injury attorneys offer a free consultation to potential personal injury clients. Injured individuals don’t pay any upfront costs since most injury attorneys handle these cases on a contingency fee basis. You won’t pay your attorney unless your case settles or they win in court on your behalf. With contingency fees, they only receive a payment if they recover money for you. The amount your lawyer will get depends on the details of your agreement, and you should know this amount before the representation begins. Amounts can change based on the specifics of your case or your location. Once you receive your settlement funds or court award, your attorney takes their contingency fees straight from that payment. This payment arrangement means that anyone can afford a lawyer, and no one needs to come up with any funds out of their pockets for legal representation. You have nothing to lose by seeking the legal help you need.
Always Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer Immediately for Complex Claims
It takes a well-versed personal injury attorney to navigate the legal waters in complicated, high-dollar injury claims, including those with severe injury or liability disputes. You want legal representation from the very start. Such claims can include:
- Severe motor vehicle collisions
- Medical malpractice
- Other toxic poisonings
- Injuries to children
- Product liability claims
- Dangerous drugs
- Wrongful death
If you have a complex case, you should always hire an established personal injury law firm that can advance the funds necessary to pay for case essentials like:
- Expert witnesses
- Independent product testing
- Actuarial accountants
- Other evidence needed to prepare for a trial
Insurance companies frequently pay injured individuals more when they have an attorney on their side. Insurance carriers know that a lawyer will persevere for a higher settlement on behalf of their client and is willing to go to trial if necessary. On the other hand, laypeople handling their claims alone are unlikely to pursue litigation on their own, and insurance adjusters use this to their advantage with unrepresented claimants. In some cases, hiring a personal injury attorney to file a lawsuit
for the insurance company is all that’s necessary for the claims adjuster to bring reasonable money to the settlement negotiation table.
If There Are Any Case Complications
It’s common for serious injury claims to involve complications that a seasoned personal injury attorney can address. Legal complications in injury claims can include:
When many injured individuals seek compensation from the same insurance policy, sometimes there isn’t enough money to go around due to a limited insurance policy. In these cases, the insurance company will likely file an interpleader, requesting that the court decide how to divide the money between the injured parties. Your lawyer can negotiate a fair share of the available funds for you.
After you obtain compensation for your injuries, health insurance companies, Medicaid, Medicare, and sometimes other parties have the legal right to recover what they paid on your behalf from any settlement or court award you receive. Your lawyer can often negotiate a lower lien amount, allowing you to keep more of the settlement money you deserve.
Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney Today
Reputable personal injury lawyers won't charge you for an initial case evaluation. Through such an evaluation, you receive personalized legal advice and can decide what to do next. For example, the attorney might advise you that your claim is simple and such that you should have no problems handling it on your own and receiving a fair settlement. However, it's always best to have a lawyer review your claim before deciding you don't need one. If you have a highly complex claim, you would make a grave mistake not to have the help of a qualified personal injury lawyer on your side. No matter your injuries or damages, you deserve fair compensation for them. Don’t make the mistake of settling for less. Instead, take advantage of a free initial consultation to determine what an experienced personal injury attorney can do for your claim.