Should I Get A Lawyer?
Many Americans wonder if they need a lawyer after a workplace accident, slip-and-fall, or motor vehicle accident. The answer is yes. Even if you believe you have a minor injury or the insurance company will help you through the claim process, you need to speak with a personal injury lawyer. Handling a claim independently often does more harm than good, and once you file an inaccurate document or harm your case, there is no turning back.
[lwptoc title="Get A Lawyer Guide"]
Benefits of hiring a lawyer
One benefit of hiring a personal injury lawyer is you will not need to speak to anyone on the record. The lawyer will speak for you and handle all communications regarding your case. The insurance company wants to mitigate its losses, and they will contact you as soon as possible to get information from you that can hurt your insurance claim.
The insurance adjuster is moving quickly to get a statement from you before you enlist the help of a lawyer because once you make a statement, they will use that through the life of your claim to hinder you from getting full payment. If you have a lawyer before the insurance company calls, all you do is refer them to your personal injury lawyer.
Another benefit of hiring a lawyer is staying within legal deadlines. The state and insurance companies have deadlines for claims; if you fail to meet them, you lose your rights. Without legal experience, you will not know what these deadlines are and what you need to file within the deadlines. Statutes of limitations set deadlines for filing a lawsuit, which you might need to do. Do not let these deadlines pass.
How to find a lawyer
Suppose you have never had any legal issue before; it can be challenging to find a lawyer because you do not know where to start. You can start by asking family and friends for referrals. You can start by conducting an online search if that does not produce valuable results.
Narrow down the list of local personal injury lawyers. Compile pertinent information about your claim and a list of questions you want to ask. Then start scheduling consultations but stick to a handful, do not shop around too much.
Hire a lawyer who focuses on your injury or accident type and has the experience and track record to prove it. Trial experience is also essential; while most cases do not make it to trial, there is always the possibility, and you need someone ready and willing to go the extra mile for you. A bonus is a lawyer who has worked on both sides of the aisle; for the insurance company and victims because they have an inside look into how insurance companies will try to delay and deny your claim.
4. Questions to ask yourself to decide to hire a lawyer
Victims often try to go it alone, trusting the insurance company will provide an adequate settlement offer and handle all of their needs. If you are unsure of whether to contact a lawyer or not, there are some questions to ask yourself that can steer you in the right direction.
1. Were you hurt?
The first question you need to ask yourself is how severely you suffered an injury. If you have a severe injury, the insurance company will likely not want to pay, and the claim will likely not resolve within a reasonable amount of time. Severe injuries can cause you to miss work and see many doctors for treatment.
When the injuries change your life, even for a short time, you need a lawyer to ensure you get the money you need for your damages and losses. Typically if you only miss a day or two from work and there is no significant impact on your life, you will not need extensive medical care and legal representation.
Discuss your injuries with a lawyer to determine if you have a severe injury that requires substantial compensation. When we say serious injury, that does not always mean losing a limb or suffering a traumatic brain injury. A broken bone that does not allow you to work or participate in activities in a standard capacity is a severe injury, even if you do not believe it is.
2. Are medical bills piling up?
For extensive injuries, you will begin to see mounting medical bills, and while you might afford some, you will likely feel an overwhelming burden after a while. Health insurance can help cover some of these expenses, but you will also have out-of-pocket requirements and other complications. The person who caused your injuries should pay for your losses.
3. Who was at fault?
Negligence is conducive to liability and the critical determining factor in all personal injury claims. Ask yourself who was at fault for the accident and how they contributed to the accident. Insurance companies will fight tooth and nail to prove that someone else was liable for the accident, whether you or another driver. However, the evidence should show who bears responsibility for the accident.
Accident reports will show what an officer or other party believes happened, but parties can challenge their opinion. Conducting an investigation is essential to proving who was at fault for the accident and will impact your recovery claim. A lawyer will solidify your claim even if you think the fault is apparent.
4. How much insurance coverage is available?
Insurance should pay for losses after an accident, but they have limits they do not want to surpass. Workers’ compensation insurance may only cover a portion of your losses from a workplace injury. The same goes for motor vehicle accidents, as policy limits might affect your overall compensation. You need to know how much insurance coverage the negligent party has available and all potentially liable parties.
While it seems evident that if the person was at fault and caused you harm, they should pay the maximum for your injuries, insurance companies believe the opposite. Even when responsibility, injuries, and losses are clear, insurers might still offer the lowest amount. They will stay far below the policy limits and what you need to heal unless a personal injury lawyer is fighting for you.
Situations where you do and do not need a lawyer
There are many different legal matters, and the legal space is vast. There is civil and criminal law, and each has hurdles and legal issues to consider. Since there are so many situations where you can get into legal trouble, it is hard to decipher what situations do and do not require a lawyer.
If you are unsure, contact a lawyer. In injury cases, you do not have to pay for your initial consultation, so you have absolutely nothing to lose.
Reasons you should hire a lawyer.
Most conversations with a potential client begin with the words ‘ I’m not sure I need a lawyer,” and since you are calling a law firm, chances are you do. Think of a lawyer as a doctor. Do you visit the emergency room every time you sneeze? But if you are bleeding, you immediately go to the emergency room. While that can be an extreme example, it is how you can determine whether you should call a lawyer or not.
One reason you will want a lawyer is that it will cost you more not to have one. The costs of handling a legal issue independently are far greater than the costs of having a lawyer fix the problem. Personal injury lawyers offer free consultations, so even if you do not need one, you have peace of mind knowing your options.
Laws are complicated
Another reason you need a lawyer is that the law is complicated. You do not have any legal experience and may have little knowledge of your legal rights but not enough to go through pre-litigation, litigation, or pre-trial and trial phases. All lawyers spend years in school and training to learn the law. Think of it like this; lawyers rarely represent themselves in court because they understand that even with experience on a topic, you need an unbiased person working for you.
Going to court
The courtroom is contentious and complicated. Many procedures and processes go into taking your case to court. You can face a case dismissal from a minor error on a document or get a less-than-favorable offer. You will need to present exhibits and interrogate witnesses at trial, and without knowing what to look for, you can ask the wrong things, but a lawyer will not.
They know what to ask and what to present. They can also refute the evidence the defense presents. The chain of custody for evidence can also come into the picture, and you need someone who knows how it works.
Negotiating is not easy when you do not have legal experience.
Negotiation is complicated; while you believe you have the experience to negotiate with the insurance company and get a better offer, you do not. When a lawyer negotiates, it is for more money, but when the insurance negotiates, it is for less. Lawyers work with insurance companies daily, knowing how willing they are to negotiate and what tactics they need to use. Even so, the decision lies with another human being, and you never know how much they will budge.
You deserve compensation
When you suffered an injury and did not cause it, the negligent party must compensate you for your losses. They cannot move on with life while you are left in pain and picking up the pieces. There is a range of compensation you qualify for in a personal injury case that looks different than other legal matters, such as medical bills, property damage, loss of income, wrongful death, disfigurement, and future medical expenses.
They have a lawyer
The opposing party has a lawyer, and so should you. They are looking for ways not to pay you, and their attorneys have experienced shifting the blame and lowering settlements. Do not try to fight them alone; fight fire with fire or a lawyer with a lawyer. Their lawyer is looking out for the insurance company’s best interests, and paying out a claim is not in their best interests.
If you cannot decide, ask
If you are still uncertain whether you should seek legal assistance for your claim, all you need to do is ask. Seek a personal injury attorney who offers free consultations, and they will let you know whether you have a case that requires professional help. You will need to provide general information about the accident so they can consider whether hiring a lawyer is the right choice. A lawyer will not push to represent you in a situation where you do not need legal help.
Victims believe hiring a lawyer will prolong their recovery process, but it can make it smoother. It will take time to resolve any claim, and having legal protection ensures you are not leaving money on the table.
Most cases resolve out of court and do not require a trial. However, always work with a lawyer with trial experience should it go that far. Ask questions about their experience so you feel comfortable hiring a certain lawyer, and do not be scared to shop around.
A consultation is a perfect way to decide whether you need a lawyer and if you want to move forward with the lawyer you are meeting with. If you have an injury that affects your way of life, you need a lawyer who can prove the other party owed you a duty of care, they breached it, and you suffered injuries and losses as a result. Schedule a consultation as soon as you can after an accident.