Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer or Handle My Own Claim?
Personal injury claims cover an assortment of cases and various kinds of accidents. From injuries from a vehicle accident, by slipping and falling at someone’s business, or bitten by your neighbor’s dog. All these accidents are thought of as personal injury and the degree of your injury can make a huge difference when processing your claim. In many situations, you might be capable of dealing with a claim using insurance or small claims court towards the other party by yourself. In other situations, you might want to pursue the advice and help from a knowledgeable legal professional. It is all subject to the seriousness of your injuries and the legal aspects of the accident.
Handling Your Own Case
Trying to manage a claim by yourself only to get legal counsel later might complicate the claim process, so it’s important to comprehend what you are able to do and what’s at stake should you mismanage your case. If you are not sure how to go about it or how to manage your claim, you may consider getting in contact with a lawyer immediately following your injury for a consultation to discover if a lawyer is worth the expense.
Below are instances of cases that you might be able to manage without a legal professional:
You Were In a Vehicle Accident With No (Or Very insignificant) Injuries
One of the most common kinds of case involves injuries due to an auto accident. Someone could rear-end you at a low speed and cause insignificant damage to your car. The injuries to yourself or your passengers could result in a couple of visits to the doctor. Filing a claim with your insurance, or the other individuals, is going to often be efficient and enough compensation to cover the expense of the repairs to your car and the medical costs incurred due to the accident. When this is the case, and you are content with the coverage and service you receive from your insurance claim, there might be no requirement to get a hold of a lawyer or seek additional legal advice.
You State is a No-Fault State
The no-fault guidelines don’t allow you to sue unless your injuries get up to a specific degree (established by either the nature of your injuries or the expense of getting them treated, subject to where you reside). Because you are hindered of recovering damages from your own personal injury protection coverages in no-fault claims, retaining a lawyer for negligible injuries might not make sense in this case. Nevertheless, when there is a possibility that your injuries could be “serious” enough to for you to come out of the no-fault system, then retaining a lawyer becomes a wise choice.
You’re Already Receiving the Maximum Amount Available
Insurance companies only pay to out to their policy ceiling. Meaning if the defendant that injured you has a $100,000 maximum insurance policy and you have been offered a $100,000 settlement, even getting a bigger verdict may not be of use to you. Any added amount over what the insurer is going to offer would have to be directly collected from the defendant. When the defendant has assets or money, it might be worthwhile to try and collect additional damages if you think you are entitled to them. On the other hand, if the defendant has little in ways of assets, then taking the settlement is most likely the best move.
You Are Assured You Can Negotiate Effectively With an Adjuster
You wouldn’t most likely need to look towards a lawyer’s advice when you are self-assured and content enough to negotiate with the adjuster on your own to come to a settlement amount in which you think is going to be fair. When your situation is something in which you decide to take the other party to small claims court, and you are able represent yourself when you feel confident with the evidence you have collected and your knowledge of legal processes.
You’re Self-Assured Researching the Law and Settlement Processes
Be sure you are knowledgeable concerning the most important matters, including fault and legal accountability, state laws that impact your case, and compensation available for varying types of damages.
This involves an amount of time and research in order to comprehend the specifics of the law. A lot of individuals do not have the energy to put time into this research. There are professionals that have already gone through training and have knowledge of the law: lawyers. When you find yourself spending more time than it probably takes, and getting annoyed by the complications of the specifics, it might be time to think about speaking with a lawyer.
When You Might Think About Hiring an Lawyer
The insurance company you are making the claim towards is going to have lawyers representing them. Lawyers are professionals that spend years and numerous hours studying the specifics of the law and gathering the skills to represent their clients. When the insurance company or those involved that you are taking to court is legally represented it might be something for you to additionally think about.
Your Injuries Might Not Be as Insignificant As You Thought
A lot of individuals are hesitant to hire a lawyer for injuries that might be somewhat minor. For instance, say you get in a car accident, and you bruise your elbow and have a couple of scrapes, you might not feel it is worthwhile to get legal representation. Meanwhile, if the other driver’s insurance company gives you an offer to pay for your medical treatment and give you a couple hundred dollars additionally on top of that, it might not be worth the stress of finding a lawyer to represent you.
However, there are a couple of reasons why you should think about calling, or even scheduling an initial consultation with a lawyer, even for presumably minor injuries.
Minor Injuries Could Become Major Ones. If your injuries become worse than you and a medical professional initially thought, and you have already accepted an insurance settlement offer, there is going to be nothing you can do about it because you have to forfeit any and all future claims coming out of the accident if you settle. A knowledgeable lawyer is going to advise you to hold on until you fully know the extent of your injuries and would assist you in determining the right time to accept an offer.
You Are Entitled to “Pain and Suffering” Damages. Pain, suffering, and emotional damages are going to be considered by a jury should your case go to court, and so a settlement that does not include these kinds of damages may not be an entire one. Your lawyer can tell you about all damages you might be entitled to, possibly for injuries that may be minor, and is going to represent you on your behalf to be sure you receive an acceptable settlement.
Small Cases versus Serious Injuries
When you suffer from a serious injury, you should get a lawyer. Since:
- The lawyer can help you be sure you get the full extent of damages you are entitled to.
- Lawyers are professionals in negotiations and can increase your recovery.
- The insurers and defendants might take your claim more seriously after you are represented by a lawyer.
What About Your Insurance Company?
The reason why a lot of people explain themselves for not retaining a lawyer of their own is because they have insurance, or that the other individual has insurance. You might think that insurance companies are for looking after your best interests. But in a lot of situations, the insurance company’s interests are counter at odds with yours:
- You have an initial goal of obtaining as large of a damage settlement as you can to compensate you for the experience you endured.
- Insurance companies have as initial goal of paying out a minimum as possible so that they get more in profits.
Affording a Lawyer: Contingency Fee Agreements
One other reason accident victims may be hesitant in hiring a lawyer is the concern of paying legal expenses. But just about all personal injury lawyers work on a plan referred to as a contingency basis. Meaning the personal injury lawyer is not going to be paid any money or legal expenses unless you win your case or settle out of court.
These agreements work by enabling the lawyer to get compensation straight out of your damage settlement. It’s common for the agreement to be structured on the basis of a percentage of the amount of money you get. For instance, the agreement might stipulate that the lawyer gets 30% should you settle prior to a lawsuit being filed, 1/3rd should you settle following the lawsuit being filed but throughout the discovery process, or 40% should the case actually going to trial, and damages are granted by a jury.
Represented Plaintiffs Tend to Receive Larger Settlements
A 1999 study conducted by the Insurance Research Council, reports an average individual receives a settlement 3½ times greater with legal representation than without them. In personal injury settlements this can make a big difference. The specifics of the law are subject to your situation can become complex.
- What if the person that rear-ended you is uninsured, or when their insurance declines to pay?
- Say the dog bite you received makes you severely ill and ends up costing you $1,000s?
- What if your neighbor is not going to take responsibility?
In these few quick instances and questions, you realize how easily it could be that a personal injury claim gets complex. Any time you are injured and are dealing with an insurance company or other private entity directly to your claim, you have the right to speak with a lawyer and have one represent you, should you decide to.
Source: Nolo. (2019, April 12). Hire a personal injury lawyer or handle your own claim? www.alllaw.com. Retrieved April 29, 2022, from https://www.alllaw.com/articles/nolo/personal-injury/handle-your-own-claim-hire-lawyer.html
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