If you’ve been involved in a car accident, I can understand why you might hesitate to reach out to a personal injury attorney.
You might ask yourself questions like, “if I wasn’t injured, do I need legal representation?” Or, “the insurance company will surely take care of it for me, right?”
And you’ll no doubt ask yourself, “aren’t attorneys expensive?”
My answer to each of these three common questions is: it depends.
There are many undeniable benefits of hiring a personal injury attorney, whether you suffered an injury or not. On the most basic level, an experienced personal injury attorney understands the legal process and has an informed opinion on the best path towards a resolution. But at the end of the day, it is up to you to decide whether you want to seek legal representation or not.
To help you make that decision with confidence, I’ve written this article to share my best advice on when it’s worth hiring an attorney and when you might be able to handle your case on your own.
Is It Worth Hiring an Attorney For Your Personal Injury Claim?
Personal injuries in the workplace or injuries resulting from an auto accident can be potentially life-changing events. As a rule of thumb, the more serious the injury, the more complex the case, and the more beneficial a personal injury attorney will be for you.
If you’re skeptical, trusted referrals can help you find a reputable, accomplished attorney to give you peace of mind that you’re making a smart decision with your case.
Now then, below, you’ll find six clear reasons that it’s time to lawyer up and get serious about putting your case in the management of a legal professional.
1. You Suffered Injuries from the Accident
As I mentioned, serious injuries are common in motor vehicle accidents. They may even be the norm for accidents that occur at very high speeds.
And if you’ve suffered an injury yourself, a personal injury attorney can be the valuable asset you need to get the compensation you deserve for your damages.
A personal injury lawyer can help you get the most out of your injury claim or lawsuit. And if your accident left you with any of the conditions below, you should definitely seek professional legal representation.
- Permanent Disability
- Temporary disability
- Pain and suffering
- Severe Injury
If you are suffering from an injury that resulted from someone else’s negligence, then you should be more concerned with your recovery and getting well than fighting for your rights to fair compensation. Allow an attorney to fight for you.
2. Liability is Unclear
If it is unclear who the negligent party was—who is to blame for the accident—you should contact a lawyer.
If liability is unclear, it is your responsibility to prove your innocence. To do this, you will need an abundance of evidence proving your injuries resulted from someone else’s negligence.
In the case of a car accident, for example, police records, photos of the accident, the official accident report, medical records, and eyewitness testimony are all pieces of evidence you must collect, organize, and use to make your case.
If you believe someone else was at fault for your injuries because of negligence, then you must prove the responsible party’s negligence to have a legitimate case.
And if you were partially at-fault for the accident—or completely at-fault—, then you should definitely seek the counsel of an attorney.
3. You Need Help Negotiating with the Insurance Company
Insurance adjusters are notoriously challenging to work with. An experienced attorney who is skilled in the art of persuasion and negotiation can help.
Your goal as an injury victim is to fight for maximum compensation for your injuries. Suppose you have medical bills or property damage or pain and suffering that require significant financial resources. In that case, you owe it to yourself and your future to do everything you can to get the most money possible (fairly, of course).
Injury victims want a fair settlement, but insurance adjusters will do everything in their power to limit your offer. Make no mistake: their definition of “fair settlement” seldom matches yours.
On your own, an insurance adjuster will almost certainly have the advantage over you. They know the law. They know how to convince you that a low-ball offer is in your best interest when it isn’t.
An experienced attorney will intervene, handle the insurance company for you, and help level the playing field with effective negotiation to prove your case’s true worth.
4. Victims With Legal Representation Receive Larger Settlements
As I just explained, on their own, claimants are not always capable of reaching the best possible outcome for their case (in terms of compensation) because they are not trained, negotiators. Claimants who seek the services of a personal injury attorney, on the other hand, tend to receive larger settlements across the board.
According to a report conducted by the Insurance Research Council, settlements were 40% higher when claimants were represented by a lawyer.
Think about it. An attorney who knows all the tricks and the strategies understand what levers to pull that will lead to the ideal resolution.
In a way, attempting to manage a personal injury case on your own is akin to learning how to drive for the first time. If you have never done it before, you may be in for a bumpy ride.
5. There’s No Cost to You if You Don’t Win
One of the most common concerns about hiring an attorney is the subject of cost.
The jokes around this subject are a dime a dozen. Indeed, most legal professionals’ hourly rate exceeds that of the average work occupation, but here’s the thing: almost every personal injury attorney in the country operates on a contingency fee basis.
Which means you pay nothing unless you win.
If you have ever visited a personal injury law firm website, you’ve no doubt seen the invitation to schedule a free consultation. I have the same offer at my own firm, Bruscato Law.
There is no cost to you upfront—no legal fees of any kind. It is only when your case is won that payment enters the picture.
In most cases, the attorney’s fee will be a flat percentage, usually between 20% – 40% of the final settlement award. In this sense, there is no out-of-pocket cost to hire an attorney. It is simply deducted from your settlement offer if a satisfactory outcome is achieved.
6. An Attorney Can Go to Trial for You
If the settlement offer is too low, or if the opposing party refuses to settle, an attorney can move to take your case to court.
Attempting to represent yourself in a court of law can be a reasonably daunting proposition. Bruscato Law Firm can represent you and try your personal injury case in a court of law, should it come to that.
Contact Bruscato today for a free case evaluation.
Managing Your Own Case
I have just covered six reasons why it makes sense to hire a personal injury attorney. If you are still thinking of managing your case by yourself, I’ll explain the conditions under which it might make sense to do so.
Typically the circumstances have to be just right for someone to successfully manage their own case and get a fair settlement offer. If you fall under any of the following scenarios, you may be able to manage your case alone, but even then, I would still recommend you seek legal advice before making that decision.
Minor Injuries, or No Injuries At All
Minor car accidents happen every day, and in many cases, nobody is physically injured.
Parking lot accidents, rear-ends, and other low-speed accidents can cause vehicle damage, but if they don’t result in an injury, then you may be able to handle the situation yourself.
Filing an insurance claim with your insurance company or the other drivers may be enough to claim compensation for the accident. If it turns out you are satisfied with the service and the settlement awarded to recoup your damages, then you may not need to involve an attorney.
You Live in a No-Fault State
Another reason why you might consider handling your case by yourself is if you live in a no-fault state.
The no-fault states are:
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
- Puerto Rico
No-fault states don’t allow you to sue a negligent driver unless your injuries surpass a certain degree of severity. Severity is determined by the seriousness of the injuries or the cost of treating them.
In a no-fault claim, you are limited to covering your damages and losses with personal injury protection insurance coverage (PIP). But if your injuries are severe enough and exceed this coverage, then contacting an attorney may be a good idea.
You’re a Confident Negotiator
If you are looking to claim a fair settlement, you must be prepared to negotiate with the insurance adjuster.
If you are the rare breed of human who is a confident, capable, and effective negotiator, then handling your case solo may be just fine.
To get the maximum settlement offer on your insurance claim requires that you make the best possible case for your injury and convince the insurance company to award you a payout you believe is fair.
Insurance adjusters are not interested in giving you what you want. They are looking to provide you with the bare minimum that your insurance policy permits.
Effective negotiation is key to maximizing your payout. But if you aren’t confident in your abilities, an experienced attorney can negotiate on your behalf.
You’re Willing to Become an Amateur Attorney for a While
If you are the kind of person who insists on figuring out everything on your own, then handling your own case may be the right decision. There are many moving pieces involved in the legal process that you must understand if you want to make a convincing case.
Whether it’s medical malpractice or advanced personal injury law, you basically have to become an amateur attorney and put in the time first to understand the legal landscape, and second, operate in it to reach a satisfactory resolution.
Keep in mind, the statute of limitations in Louisiana is just one year. So if you intend to hit the books and study up on personal injury law, just realize that the clock starts ticking the day your accident occurs.
Bruscato is a Leading Personal Injury Law Firm in Monroe, Louisiana
As you know by now, there are many clear benefits to hiring an experienced attorney to manage your personal injury lawsuit or claim.
A personal injury lawyer will not charge you upfront, and they will have a deep understanding of the legal process and know how to fight for your legal rights to fair compensation.
If you have questions about your case or want to speak with a personal injury attorney, contact Bruscato Law Firm today for a free initial consultation. John Bruscato is a personal injury attorney with in-depth knowledge of car accident cases, workers’ compensation, and personal injury. He works on a contingency basis, which means you pay nothing unless you win.