Should I Hire a Lawyer For My Personal Injury Claim?
If you have been involved in a car accident, you may be weighing the benefits and risks of hiring a personal injury lawyer for your car accident claim. This article explores what factors you should consider before deciding whether or not to hire a personal injury lawyer for your injury claim.
How Much Time Is Involved in Handling an Injury Claim?
Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of whether or not you should handle your own personal injury claim is whether or not you even have time to give your legal case the attention it requires.
While you are seeking medical treatment for your injuries, it is ideal that you focus on healing your body and mind. Dealing with the insurance companies can be stressful by itself; combined with the pain you are experiencing, the time you spend at medical appointments, and your regular daily activities including work, raising a family, or cooking dinner, adding on the stress of a personal injury claim can become overwhelming. Personal injury attorneys know the ins and outs of the process, and can devote the time it takes to successfully settle your claim. An experienced lawyer knows the law and how to use it in your favor, and this skill takes years of law school as well as of practicing the law. Hiring a lawyer can be expensive, but it may be worth the time you save and can instead devote to your own life as you recover from an accident.
How Confusing and Complicated is Your Legal Case?
If you are deciding whether or not to hire a personal injury lawyer, it is important to consider how complicated your legal claim may be. While all personal injury cases involving injuries are significant, certain facts and circumstances can make one case vastly more complicated than another. The complexity of your legal claim coupled with the fact that you may not have any direct experience in handling personal injury claims should be cause for concern, or at least consideration.
In most circumstances, an experienced and qualified personal injury lawyer will spend his or her entire career practicing law to ensure that each and every aspect of their client’s case is handled appropriately. However, choosing to represent yourself means dedicating the necessary time and energy to studying, preparing and researching each and every step in the personal injury process. It is worth noting that even experienced injury lawyers spend hours upon hours each day remaining on top of the changes in the law. Additionally, the smallest misstep in your case may harm your claim for compensation.
Going Pro Se
Insurance adjusters love working against non-lawyers. Insurance adjusters know that non-lawyers are intimidated by the complicated nature of the insurance claims process, and that they likely do not have access to expensive legal research tools and books. This may translate into the insurance adjusters attempting to take advantage of an accident victim’s lack of experience or knowledge.
While you may be capable of representing your own interests using the information contained on our site, it is important to acknowledge how much time and energy will be required. Additionally, insurance adjusters are specially trained to handle and negotiate personal injury claims and will know exactly how to work to the detriment of your claim.
Attorneys Represent Your Interests — Insurance Adjusters Do Not
When speaking with the opposing insurance adjuster for the first time, you may be surprised to find that your conversation is quite cordial, or even pleasant. However, you will likely discover as your case progresses that the friendly demeanor doesn’t last. It is common for individuals who have initially represented themselves to later find a lawyer once the insurance adjuster is no longer being polite and cooperative and is now taking hard stances regarding case damages and compensation.
When a claim is opened and the case against the insurance company starts, you likely aren’t aware that the insurance adjuster’s charms are often a means of manipulation. It is not uncommon for insurance adjusters to pretend that the low settlement offer is in your best interest because it is what they have offered other people with similar injuries. A personal injury lawyer can evaluate a claim and understand what that claim’s particular strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, a personal injury lawyer will know how to argue a claim to avoid these deceptive insurance tactics by raising well-reasoned arguments as to how this incident has affected your health, profession and personal life.
Individuals who represent themselves are significantly more likely to believe and rely on what the insurance company is telling them. The unfortunate reality is that the insurance company and the insurance adjuster do not have your best interest at heart.
How Do You Know if a Settlement is Good or Bad?
While many personal injury cases appear to be similar, it is very difficult to know what factors objectively make one case better or worse than another. Moreover, if you are handling the case on your own, you may be relying on several sources of information to answer this question, and each could be wrong for a variety of different reasons.
For example, if you are relying on the Internet, you may be seeing information about a case from a different state or outdated information that is no longer accurate. The Internet is an excellent tool but can be wrong as often as it is right, and it is difficult to discern if a particular element applies to your own case.
Second, you may be consulting with friends or family members who were involved in similar accidents or sustained similar injuries for which they received compensation. This can also be quite misleading, because the circumstances of that person’s accident or injuries may differ drastically from your own.
For example, let’s assume that you were struck by a vehicle with minimum bodily injury coverage ($30,000 per person) in North Carolina and you sustained broken ribs as a result of this accident. Perhaps you have a family member who also previously sustained broken ribs as a result of being hit by a vehicle, except that he or she was hit in Pennsylvania by a Comcast truck carrying millions of dollars in bodily injury coverage. If your family member received a high settlement award for his or her injuries and you are currently dealing with a low settlement offer, you should not expect that you will eventually receive the same amount as the family member because, among other factors, the accidents occurred in different jurisdictions and were caused by vehicles with completely different insurance coverage limits.
As previously mentioned, you cannot rely on the insurance adjuster to tell you whether or not a settlement offer is fair because their interests are opposite of your own. They are solely concerned with saving their company as much money as possible, so they will never tell you if a settlement offer is unfair given your injuries and the medical expenses incurred.
While an attorney does have a financial incentive to settle your case if he or she is working under a contingent fee, the incentive means that the more money you receive, the more money the attorney will ultimately receive. Furthermore, an attorney is professionally obligated to put your interests above their own financial gain from the case. Therefore, an attorney is the person most likely to give you an honest answer about whether or not you have a good settlement offer on the table.
If you would like your questions answered by a successful personal injury attorney, check out our Accident Forum. If you are interested in speaking directly with a personal injury lawyer in your area, we recommend using our Lawyer Locator tool.