If you’ve been injured because of someone else’s actions or negligence, you face more challenges than just your injury. You also have medical bills and insurance claims to deal with, lost wages and more. So, when can you deal with these issues on your own – and under what circumstances do you need an attorney?
For minor injuries, such as short-term sprains or soft-tissue injuries, you may not need to hire one. For very small claims, legal assistance may raise your settlement only marginally, and the attorney’s fee may lower the amount you receive overall. However, a lawyer may be able to increase the value of your claim drastically if your injuries are more serious or if your situation is more complicated.
According to the National Law Review, “[i]f your injury necessitated hospitalization, surgery, physical therapy, rehabilitation, chiropractic work, cosmetic surgery or orthopedics, you likely need to have your case evaluated by an injury lawyer. When claims involve substantial past and future medical expenses, their value can be significantly increased when you have good legal representation.” The Insurance Research Council reports that the average person receives a 3.5 times’ larger settlement with legal assistance than without it.
For more complicated or high-stakes situations, an attorney’s specialized skills become much more valuable. Attorneys have a deep knowledge of the law that you may not have, as well as extensive experience working with insurance companies and their lawyers. If you do not feel confident in your knowledge of statutory and case law, or you do not have the time to dedicate to research, hiring an attorney may be your best option.
You may decide to file a claim on your own because, when your injury seems relatively minor and straightforward, you’re ready to settle the matter quickly. But in a percentage of those types of cases, seemingly simple legal situations become complicated – quickly – and in those situations, it’s in the insurance company’s best interests, not yours, to settle quickly. So, proceed with care.
In other scenarios, the insurance company could refuse to pay the claim, offer an unreasonably low amount or dispute liability. In these situations, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.
Insurers can also take more insidious routes to avoid paying claims. They will likely contact you to ask for a statement about the injury and may ask for your medical records and other personal information. Once they have your information, they may use it to harm your case, such as blaming the injury on a pre-existing condition. The National Law Review therefore recommends that you speak to a lawyer before giving any statement or personal information to the insurance company.
Ultimately, the decision to hire a personal injury attorney is your own, and depends upon the severity of your injuries, your medical costs, the complexity of your case, and your own legal knowledge. As the above examples illustrate, though, it can be more prudent to call a personal injury attorney before your situation becomes complicated and before insurance companies have evidence they can use to fight your claims.
If you are ready to hire a personal injury attorney – or you just want to explore your options – contact us online for a free case evaluation. Or call us at: