After an accident, there are many decisions that need to be made. One of the biggest decisions is whether to file a personal injury claim, followed by the decision of whether to hire an attorney to help you with that claim. Many people are hesitant to make these decisions because they worry about costs and complications. While it is possible to file a personal injury claim on your own, it may be in your best interests to have a personal injury attorney by your side. Every situation is different, and every person’s needs are different. It is important to know what options you have to make an informed decision as to what is best for you.
Is it Worth Getting a Personal Injury Lawyer for My Case?
Generally speaking, when a situation is more complicated or the injuries are more severe, it is more likely that having a lawyer will be beneficial to your case. It is also worth considering that when recovering from an accident and injury, you may not be in any condition to take legal action on your own. Many people think they will file a claim after they’ve healed without realizing that the process should be started as soon as possible because of the personal injury statute of limitations. Some people also do not realize that most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis which means that you only pay them out from the money they win for you.
Why it’s Worth Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
There are several reasons why having a personal injury attorney may be in your best interests. Benefits of legal representation in personal injury claims include but are not limited to:
- Low financial risk to the client
- Greater chances of success
- Greater chances of higher settlement
- Expert knowledge and advice
- Convenience, ease, and efficiency
Contingency Fees Mean Lawyers Only Get Paid if They Win
One of the main things holding people back from hiring an attorney is that they don’t know how much a personal injury lawyer costs and if they will be able to afford it. However, the majority of personal injury attorneys work on a contingency basis. With no legal fees due up front, and a percentage of the settlement taken at the end, clients can be assured that the costs will not outweigh the rewards. There is also an added reassurance in knowing that your attorney has a personal interest in making sure you receive the best possible settlement.
Personal Injury Lawyers Helps Your Chances of Winning Your Case
The legal system is a complex world that can be difficult to navigate for anyone who is not familiar with it. While you do not have to have a lawyer in order to file a claim, it will be considerably harder to put together a robust case and present it in front of a judge without a solid understanding of the legal system. Having an expert personal injury lawyer will ensure that deadlines are met, paperwork is filled out, and that the process of filing a claim is done efficiently and properly. This saves victims the headache that comes with the upcoming legal battle so they can focus on healing and recovery. By hiring a qualified personal injury lawyer, you give yourself the strongest chance at winning your case regardless of if the case ends in a settlement or if it ends up going to trial. In a sampled study, the difference between outcomes of personal injury cases that had legal representation vs those that did not indicated a dramatic difference. 91% of the cases that were represented received a payout while only 51% of the cases that were not represented received a payout .
It is also extremely important to hire a personal injury lawyer if the defendant is a business or someone with deep pockets. This is because those kinds of defendants often have the resources to enlist the support of qualified expert legal representatives. By not having an experienced personal injury lawyer to defend you, the defendant will ultimately have the upper hand.
Personal Injury Lawyers Generally Result in Higher Settlements
Insurance adjusters often take advantage of the fact that the average person does not have detailed knowledge of personal injury law or the tricks that may be used to try to reduce their payout. Their role is to pay as little as possible and they will do what they can to lower the amount of a settlement, even if it means using bad faith tactics in some instances. Adjusters are skilled at negotiations, and they count on you not being ready for their tactics. Often, they will try to get people to agree to personal injury settlements that are much smaller than they should be before they are able to fully understand the depth of their injuries and damages. Personal injury attorneys are familiar with these tricks and know how to fight against them to ensure that you are compensated appropriately for your injuries. The effect of having personal injury lawyers to negotiate on your behalf is clear. In a recent study of sampled personal injury claims, those that were supported by a personal injury lawyer were paid out on average $77.6K. Those that were not properly represented by a personal injury lawyer only received $17.6K. Even after deducting the lawyer’s costs, that amounted to roughly 3 times more compensation for the cases that hired a personal injury lawyer .
You Will Know How Much to Claim
Not everyone is familiar with the different kinds of things they can claim for compensation. It may also be difficult to identify the value of non-economic damage or the impacts of long-term injuries. An experienced personal injury lawyer has likely overseen all kinds of similar cases and understands what to look for and what kind of treatment is needed to ensure you make a full recovery. Their experience will help ensure that you are fully compensated for all your injuries and damage. They know what can be claimed and they have ways of calculating the right amount of compensation for your losses.
The losses incurred by an accident are generally split into two categories of personal injury damages.
Economic damages are the financial losses such as:
- Medical Bills
- Property Damage
- Loss of Income
Non-economic damages are the intangible losses such as:
- Pain and Suffering
- Emotional Distress
- Reduced Quality of Life
In some severe cases, your lawyer may even be able to secure punitive damages which are awarded to punish the defendant in cases where egregious damages were intentionally caused due to malice.
You Will Save Time and Stress Handling Your Claim
Going into a legal battle on your own can be daunting and overwhelming. You may not know where to start or how to go about getting what you need in order. There are many moving parts to a personal injury claim, and if you pursue it on your own, every step will be your responsibility to handle. This can exponentially increase the amount of time and work spent on the case, as well as compound your stress and take focus and energy away from healing. A personal injury law firm has the resources and knowledge necessary to move the process along as efficiently as possible. They can take care of most of the work and walk you through the parts of the claim that need your attention. This allows you to take the opportunity to recover without worrying about what might need to be done next.
When It’s Worth Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
In addition to knowing how a personal injury lawyer can help, it’s important to know whether you would benefit from hiring one for your specific situation.
You Suffered Injuries
Physical or bodily injuries are generally the main focal point of personal injury claims. Most of the losses involved in a personal injury claim are due to the damage sustained in an accident. The more severe your injuries are, the more likely a personal injury lawyer is necessary. It may be in your best interest to speak to an attorney in situations involving:
- Expensive medical treatment
- Ongoing or long-term treatment
- Temporary disability
- Permanent disability
- Severe or ongoing pain and suffering
- Head or spinal injuries
It is also important to consider a personal injury lawyer even when minor injuries are sustained because they can sometimes get worse or linger and cause long term impacts on quality of life. Having an experienced personal injury to help guide you through recovery can make a significant impact on the outcome of your case as well as the healing process because they will ensure you see the right specialists you need to properly diagnose and treat your injuries.
Liability is Unclear
In some situations, it is obvious that one party was definitely at fault and the other was not. However, there are just as many situations where it may be more complicated or difficult to prove who was liable for an accident. There are many situations where there are multiple parties liable or the injured party shares some of the liability for the incident. This complicates determining a liable party and typically needs a qualified personal injury lawyer to investigate and help prove liability. There are also situations where the defendant denies any liability so the plaintiff will have to prove the defendant was at fault. A personal injury attorney can help you gather evidence you need to help build a robust case. If you are partially liable, they can also help you understand what your share of liability is and still get you the best outcome possible.
You Don’t Understand How to Navigate a Personal Injury Claim
As we mentioned earlier, the legal process involves a complicated process with many variables and moving parts that can be confusing and difficult for anyone who does not understand personal injury laws. The average person with no personal or professional experience within the legal or insurance fields may require assistance when trying to file a personal injury claim.
You Need Help Negotiating with Insurance
Studies from sampled data indicate that the difference between accepting a first offer and negotiating amounts to an increase in $30.7K on average . However, insurance companies have extensive experience in fighting claims and negotiating for lower settlements. They count on the fact that most people are unaware they can negotiate their settlement, are unaware of how much their claim is truly worth, are unfamiliar with their tactics, and are inexperienced in negotiations. Personal injury lawyers go up against insurance companies every day. They know how to calculate the appropriate compensation for each claim and have strategies for handling negotiations. Having an attorney levels the playing field and gives you someone with knowledge and experience on your side fighting for your best interests.
Insurance Has Denied Your Claim
You may have a seemingly simple case and file a claim with the insurance company on your own, only for them to deny the claim completely. This could be due to a number of reasons including a lapse in policy and bad faith practices . In these situations, a personal injury lawyer can help you build a case to take the insurance company or the negligent party to court. They will help build a solid case that will be presented in front of a judge and jury who will then determine the outcome of your case. Without the help of a qualified personal injury lawyer advocating on your behalf, you have a much higher chance of losing your claim when you must go to trial.
You Need to Go to Trial
Trial outcomes are rare and are not in the best interests of either party due to the additional time, costs, and resources needed to go to trial. This is why it can be a powerful tool when it comes to increasing your settlement. Having a personal injury to present your case and threaten a lawsuit if you have sustained serious injuries can dramatically increase your settlement offer. In instances where a lawsuit was presented, the settlement was increased by almost double. On average, plaintiffs that took steps to threaten or file a lawsuit received settlements of $45.5K vs $23K for those that didn’t . However, if a case does go to trial, the opposing insurance company will certainly have an experienced professional legal team on their side. In these circumstances, not being prepared with your own legal representation will put you at a disadvantage. Litigation can be a long and stressful process and trying to handle it on your own is risky. Having an attorney ensures that everything is being done correctly and efficiently and gives you a much higher chance of winning your personal injury claim.
When it May Not Be Worth Getting a Lawyer for Your Personal Injury Claim
For all the reasons why it might be in your best interest to have a lawyer, there are still some situations where it is just not necessary. Sometimes, the situation may be something you are able to handle on your own. Sometimes, it may not be worth filing a claim at all. Knowing how to identify these situations is just as important when making decisions regarding potential claims.
There Were Minor or No Injuries
Damages in personal injury claims primarily relate to some kind of injury. If there is no injury, or little to no medical treatment is required, then a personal injury lawyer may not be the right fit. For example, if you are in a car accident and there is property damage but no injuries, you may be able to handle the situation with the insurance company. Situations involving different types of possible claims may call for different types of legal help. The California State Bar Association has a referral service to help match people with the appropriate attorney for their situation.
The Incident Leading to Injury Occurred in a No-Fault State
States with no-fault laws require drivers to have insurance coverage for their own personal injuries and prohibit claims against the other party unless the damages are above a certain level of severity. California is not a no-fault state, but the rules of pure comparative negligence do apply. This means that if the injured party shares liability for the accident, then the compensation they receive can be reduced by the percentage of fault they contributed. If you are 95% at fault for your accident, you are allowed to pursue a claim, but your settlement would likely be reduced to only 5% of its value. In much larger cases with more severe injuries and greater damages, it may still be worth hiring a lawyer and filing a claim. There are also some states that follow modified comparative negligence, meaning that if you share more than half of the fault, you can not pursue a claim. It is important to know what laws apply to your case and the jurisdiction the case was filed in.
You Are Competent at Negotiating with Insurance Companies
If the case is simple and you are confident in your knowledge and abilities when it comes to negotiating with insurance adjusters, then you may decide that you can handle the insurance company yourself. Just be certain that you know what your case is worth, what laws apply to your situation, and the extent of damages to ensure you are fully compensated.
You Are Willing and Able to Handle Your Own Personal Injury Claim
If you are an attorney or insurance adjuster yourself, or otherwise work in the legal or insurance fields, you may be able to handle the claim and negotiate a settlement on your own. One of the primary benefits of hiring an attorney is having someone who possesses necessary knowledge, experience, and skills that you do not. If you already have those resources, you may decide that you do not need additional help. However, you need a personal injury lawyer if your knowledge and experience do not focus primarily on personal injury law or if you do not feel well enough to work your way through the personal injury process while recovering.
Contact Mesriani Law Group to Discuss Your Personal Injury Claim
Being injured in an accident is already a stressful enough ordeal without trying to take on the insurance company by yourself. Hiring a personal injury attorney can reduce the time and energy you spend on your claim and give you the opportunity to focus on healing and getting your life back. Our firm has years of experience negotiating with the insurance companies and winning personal injury cases in Los Angeles and Santa Monica. We also work on a contingency basis so we can alleviate the financial burden of legal representation that our clients face. If you have been injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, call Mesriani Law Group today for a free consultation.