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Should I Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer or Handle My Own Claim?

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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 an 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 an 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 an 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

Many hesitate to hire a lawyer for seemingly minor injuries, like bruises from a car accident. Accepting an insurance offer may seem hassle-free, but there are reasons to consult a lawyer:

  1. Minor Injuries Could Worsen: If injuries become more severe than anticipated, accepting an early settlement forfeits any future claims. A lawyer helps you assess the full extent before accepting an offer.
  2. Entitled to More Damages: Beyond medical costs, “pain and suffering” damages matter in court. A settlement might miss these. A lawyer ensures you’re aware of all entitled damages and represents you for a fair 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?

Many people don’t hire a lawyer when they have insurance, thinking the company will protect their interests. However, often, the insurance company’s goals conflict with yours. While you aim for a substantial damage settlement, the insurance company strives to minimize payouts for higher profits.

Affording a Lawyer: Contingency Fee Agreements

Accident victims may hesitate to hire a lawyer due to worries about paying legal fees. Most personal injury lawyers operate on a contingency basis. This means they won’t be paid unless you win or settle, with their compensation coming from your settlement. Typically, the agreement outlines a percentage, such as 30% before filing a lawsuit, 1/3rd during discovery, or 40% if the case goes to trial and damages are awarded.

Represented Plaintiffs Tend to Receive Larger Settlements

In 1999, the Insurance Research Council found people with legal help get settlements 3½ times bigger on average. This matters in personal injury cases where the law can get complicated.

Imagine a situation where an uninsured driver hits you, or a dog bite leads to high medical costs. What if your neighbor denies responsibility?

These examples show how personal injury claims can get complicated. If you’re dealing with an insurance company, you can talk to a lawyer and get representation for your claim.

Source:

  1. 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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