When do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

Every year in the United States, approximately 2.35 million people are injured or disabled as a result of automobile crashes.[1] Another 37,000 people lose their lives.[2] If you or a loved one have been involved in an auto accident, you have likely experienced the fear and uncertainty that accompanies it. You may be overwhelmed by the volume of information you are called on to provide to insurance adjusters, law enforcement, and potentially multiple health care providers. If the collision caused you serious injuries, you could be looking to recover damages for your pain and suffering. It is a lot to deal with and, during this very stressful and confusing time, you may find yourself asking; “What should I do now?”

Should You Do It Yourself (DIY)?

You have a couple of options available to you. You can choose to handle things yourself or bring in a lawyer. Some people may choose to handle the claim themselves to save legal fees. If the injuries are mild and your damages—both monetary and non-monetary—are minimal, DIY may be the right option for you. If you are unsure of which way to proceed, you will want to carefully weigh both options prior to moving forward.

The circumstances of your case play a big role in whether you contact a personal injury lawyer. For most claims, you will want legal representation from a personal injury lawyer or law firm. This is especially true if your injuries are severe or long term, if the liability (that is, who is at fault) is not clear, the damages are significant or complex, or if multiple parties (and insurers) are involved.

If your auto injury occurred during work hours and you are unsure if you have a personal injury claim or a workers’ comp claim or both, read this article that highlights the differences between a personal injury and workers’ compensation claim.

Facts and Circumstances of your Claim

The amount of compensation you can expect from a claim is mostly a product of the extent and severity of your injuries. Figuring out what your injuries are worth can be complicated, especially if you are not a lawyer or insurance adjuster. Factored in to all of this are medical bills, the type of injuries you have sustained, and the amount of time it will take for you to recover from those injuries. Other circumstances such as economic losses like lost wages, property damage, future lost income, and future medical expenses are all taken into consideration as well. There may be non-economic damages as well, including physical pain and suffering, loss of family, social, and educational experiences, and emotional damages.[3] So how do you know what to claim?

Insurance companies have adjusters who use their own formulas for calculating damages. The claim amount the adjuster comes up with is not necessarily a final compensation amount but becomes a starting point for negotiations. The adjuster often seeks to minimize the value of your claim and resulting damages. The insurance company is not on your side and is merely looking to offer you much less compensation than you may deserve, since their obligation is to minimize damages and save money to the company. A personal injury attorney will access the facts of your case and help to determine what the reasonable value of your damages are and strive to maximize your compensation.

Experience with Insurance Companies

You and the insurance companies have opposing goals—you want to get the largest damage award you can to compensate you for your life changing ordeal. The insurance company, on the other hand, is looking to pay you the least amount they can. Insurance is a for-profit business, after all, so you can expect some pushback when you submit a claim. The insurance company also has teams of experienced lawyers—lawyers whose priority is to make sure their client pays the minimum required by the policy. Most people who choose to “go it alone” will often find themselves in over their head when it comes to negotiating a settlement. This is when the help of a qualified personal injury attorney—one who understand the insurance company’s goals and tactics and how to counter them—becomes critical.

The personal injury lawyer and support staff will work to uncover information that could be vital to your claim. For instance, the person who injured you may have multiple types of policies with separate companies. Additionally, they will assist you if you have had difficulty getting required documents from health care providers, law enforcement officers, or employers. An attorney, acting on your behalf, has the authority and ability to discover that information.[4]

The personal injury lawyer also brings a knowledge of the legal procedure to the process. Depending on your claim, there may be complex legal rules that apply or that may affect the value of your compensation. Civil litigation, or the process of resolving disputes between private parties, does not necessarily require an attorney however, legal expertise, if your case is technical or complex, can be crucial to getting the Court ruling and award you deserve.

If you are wondering if you should pursue a claim yourself (DIY) or hire a personal injury attorney, the experienced team of lawyers at Martin, Harding, and Mazzotti, LLP can help you determine the best course of action. Click here or call us at 1800LAW1010 (1.800.529.1010).

[1] Source: The Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT); Road Safety Facts

[2] Ibid.

[3] Source: AllLaw.com, The Damages and Compensation Formula in an Injury Case

[4] Source: Injury Claim Coach; The Ins and Outs of Civil Litigation for Personal Injury Cases