If you are like most people, you’ve probably never thought of hiring a personal injury attorney. But things change when you get into an accident and you require one.
At that moment, you will face two options. On the one hand, well-meaning friends and family will tell you how a personal injury attorney will run away with your compensation, how they will leave you broke, and how you can handle a personal injury claim yourself. On the other hand, you’ll hear horror stories from people who decided to represent themselves or settle for far less than they needed to cover mounting expenses.
Ultimately, you will have one question constantly running through your mind: “Should I handle a personal injury claim myself?”
The answer is a resounding no. To succeed in your case, you will need a professional well-versed in the ins and outs of personal injury law. Instead of questioning whether to handle your injury claim yourself, focus on what a lawyer can do for you and the advantages of working with a firm with the resources needed to get the proper compensation for your injuries.
Understanding Pro Se Representation
Pro se representation means self-representation in court. The Sixth Amendment of the constitution gives you the right to self-representation in court. Just because this right exists doesn’t mean you should exercise it.
Why Do People Consider Self-Representation?
Individuals may choose to represent themselves and risk losing their case in court because:
- They fear hiring a personal injury attorney will be too expensive for them
- They believe that the defendant is at fault, and their insurer will have no choice but to compensate them
- They think they can navigate the legal process on their own
- They fear their injuries are too insignificant to warrant compensation
The Disadvantages of Self-Representation
The legal process of seeking compensation for sustained injuries is rather complex, especially when determining fault. If you accept a settlement offer from the at-fault insurer and it later dawns on you that you recovered less compensation than you needed, you cannot file a claim again. Furthermore, if you grant the insurer access to your medical records, you can be sure that they will dig deep through the documents to find ways to shift the blame to you.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. When it comes to self-representation, the list of disadvantages goes on and on. Sadly, most victims do not realize the huge mistake of attempting self-representation until they miss a crucial deadline or the at-fault party’s insurer tricks them.
Working With an Attorney Increases Your Compensation
Most people falsely assume that an insurance company will automatically award them full compensation for their claim. It is worth noting that insurance companies also have their selfish interest at play. They will hardly compensate you in full before undergoing intensive negotiations.
That said, a lawyer can significantly increase your compensation in several ways.
1. You will get a free case evaluation
Before you even decide whether you want to hire an attorney to handle your case, get a free consultation with one. Offering free case evaluations is one way personal injury attorneys ensure everyone gets a fair chance at legal representation, despite their financial status.
During the consultation, you can ask any pressing questions, such as how the process works, how strong your case is, and how you will pay your attorney. This is also the right time for you to explore your legal options.
2. A lawyer will educate you on the compensation you truly deserve
Unless this is not your first time handling a similar personal injury claim, you most likely have no clue about how much compensation you can get for your injuries. This is where an attorney comes in. They can help you add all your medical bills, estimate your future medical expenses, and assist you in calculating the physical, financial, and emotional losses incurred based on your injuries.
While a lawyer will not guarantee how much compensation you will get for your claim, they will help you better understand what your claim is worth. An attorney works to maximize your compensation, while an insurance agent makes sure you recover as little compensation as possible.
3. An attorney will help you determine liability
To file a personal injury claim, you must be able to prove liability. This means proving that the other party or entity is responsible for your injuries. Sometimes this may not be easy to prove, especially when you do it independently. On the flip side, an attorney will thoroughly investigate every aspect of your case and assess all the available information so that you do not have to stress about collecting the proper evidence.
4. Your attorney will help you calculate the true value of your case
Several factors can affect your claim:
- The amount of the at-fault party’s insurance
- The nature of your injuries
- Your income before your accident
5. Insurance companies will take you more seriously
As soon as you hire a lawyer, insurance companies will know that you plan on getting your full compensation, notwithstanding the hurdles they throw your way. In some cases, hiring an attorney may make insurance companies immediately increase your compensation.
6. Your attorney wants the best outcome for you
At most times, when handling a personal injury insurance claim, you may feel as though you were thrown into a war zone. For example, the liable party’s insurance company may want to give you as little compensation as possible. You may also be working with an individual who will go to any lengths to deny liability and slow down your case as much as they can.
It may seem like the insurance company, the hospital, and all other parties are working against you. This may add to the physical pain and the mental anguish you suffered after your accident. Often, you may feel exhausted and opt to settle for any settlement, which may feel insulting because of the severity of your injuries.
However, when you hire a lawyer, you can rest assured that they will represent your best interests throughout the claim. In addition to the attorney carrying out negotiations for you, they will handle insurance companies on your behalf, saving you the emotional and mental agony of dealing with them yourself.
7. An attorney will give you solid, hard-earned legal advice
Most people do not fully understand personal injury law and the steps insurance companies take to reduce your compensation. While understanding the compensation you deserve is a good starting point, this is not all the information you need.
Not only do lawyers go through years of legal education, but they are required to prove their knowledge time and again if they wish to remain practitioners of their profession. Your lawyer’s information will come from experience, not conjecture.
8. You will get compensation faster
When you suffer serious injuries, all you want is to get compensation as soon as possible. Firstly, your medical bills may be piling up by the day, and you can no longer work your regular job after your accident. Secondly, you are dealing with trauma and want the case to conclude as soon as possible.
On the other hand, insurance companies have one goal in mind: to drag your case for as long as they can so that you desperately accept a lower settlement. Working with an attorney will help you avoid all this, as they will find means to negotiate with the insurance company quickly or set a court date for you as soon as possible.
About 96 percent of personal injury claims resolve outside of court. This means that only 4 percent of these cases end up in court. That said, because no one knows which cases will end up in court, you should hire a qualified and experienced personal injury attorney who has no problem fighting your case inside the courtroom as they handle the negotiation process.
10. Handling appeals for you
Your case will probably not go to court. It is even more unlikely that the defendant will appeal the court’s decision. But when this happens to you, you can rest assured that your lawyer will continue representing you.
Should You Proceed With or Without an Attorney?
Considering the type of your case and the severity of your injuries, getting legal representation may save you a lot of time and money. The following factors will significantly affect your case, requiring you to get legal help.
1. How serious your injuries are
Insurance companies are out to protect their interests. It does not matter the severity of your injuries; they will still want to trick you into accepting less compensation. The more serious your injuries are, the more complicated your case will be, and the more reason you will need a qualified attorney by your side.
2. Available evidence
To get maximum compensation, you will need sufficient evidence. If you lack evidence of your pain and suffering or injuries sustained, both the insurance company and the court will assume that you are lying and don’t deserve to get compensation. To avoid this, a lawyer will obtain the required evidence for your claim.
3. Proof of breach of duty
You need to prove that the other party had a duty to protect you but failed to do so, either knowingly or unknowingly, to win your case. This is, however, not always easy to prove, especially if there is an ongoing dispute about who is at fault. In this case, you will need the intervention of an experienced personal injury attorney.
4. Calculating your pain and suffering
While no set equation can calculate how much you deserve for your pain and suffering, you need to generate a specific amount. If you are facing difficulties coming up with this value, you should seek the help of a personal injury lawyer.
Why Should You Schedule a Free Consultation with a Personal Injury Attorney?
As mentioned, you always have the option to represent yourself when handling a personal injury claim. Compensation lawyers do not charge anything for the first consultation in most cases.
Take advantage of this is an opportunity because:
- The attorney will let you know right away whether or not you have legal grounds to file your claim.
- The lawyer will help you understand the complexity of your case.
- The lawyer will let you know how much compensation you can get.
Do not make the mistake of representing yourself in a personal injury claim. You may feel you have a straightforward case, and you also think you will save legal fees if you represent yourself. However, this is a big miscalculation on your part.
You do not even have to worry about incurring legal costs. Most lawyers provide a no-win, no-fee offer. This offer makes it easy for anyone to hire a good lawyer because the legal fees will come from your payout should your claim be successful. However, if your attorney believes that you will lose your claim, they may refuse to represent you, which will indicate your prospects.
Do You Need to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?
Never attempt a do-it-yourself legal case, no matter how tempting it may seem. Personal injury law is complicated, and the opposing side has numerous legal representatives to dispute your claim.
If you suffered serious injuries following an accident caused by another person’s negligence, do not fight this battle alone. Instead, reach out to an experienced personal injury attorney near you today.