You generally claim injury in an accident by contacting an insurance company—or better yet, hiring a Chicago personal injury lawyer to do it for you.
You want to hire a lawyer to deal with any insurance companies on your behalf. While insurers should know about your injuries as quickly as possible, you must ensure that you report your injuries accurately and that insurance representatives do not violate your rights.
An attorney will ensure that insurance companies receive notice of your injuries and that insurers cannot compromise your case for compensation in any way.
Types of Injuries You Should Report After an Accident
Accidents go hand-in-hand with injuries. Whether you were in an auto accident or suffered injuries in another situation, always report and get treatment for your injuries as soon as possible. Then, you’ll need to seek fair compensation for those injuries.
No injury is too minor to report. In fact, certain injuries (including those common in auto accident cases) may take days or weeks to manifest symptoms. If you have any reason to suspect injuries, report it—even if symptoms don’t seem severe right now. Better yet, hire an attorney as soon as possible and allow them to report the injury for you.
Some injuries that result from traffic accidents and other injurious events include:
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Injuries affecting internal organs
- Internal bleeding
- Severe lacerations (cuts)
- Puncture injuries
- Amputation injuries
- Spinal cord injuries and other back injuries
Why Hire a Lawyer to Report Injuries and Deal with Insurers?
Many policyholders view insurance companies as allies, and an insurer can provide much-needed compensation in times of need. However, insurance representatives are beholden, first and foremost, to insurance companies. If an insurer can shave money off your settlement or avoid paying you altogether, it may not think twice.
You should proceed with caution when dealing with insurers.
Hiring an attorney will:
- Allow your lawyer to stand between you and insurance representatives: A lawyer serves many roles and can serve as a protective buffer between you and insurance representatives. It will be far more difficult for insurers to violate your rights if they are dealing with your lawyer.
- Spare you from making verbal missteps: One of the most common mistakes car accident victims make is making verbal mistakes when speaking with insurance representatives. Insurers will use policyholders’ words against them, even if the accident victim clearly misspoke. Having an attorney deal with insurers can spare you from saying anything you will later regret.
- Pressure insurance companies to process your claim: Attorneys know that insurance companies can delay the processing of claims, either as a negotiating tactic or for other reasons. Your attorney will pressure insurers to move your claim forward quickly, and your lawyer will take legal action if necessary.
- Allow you to prioritize recovery: Having a lawyer lead your insurance claim allows you to rest, receive treatment, avoid harmful stress, and put your recovery first.
Insurers’ entire business model depends on taking in more in premiums than it pays in claims. Unfortunately, accident victims do not always recognize when insurance companies are trying to trim payouts at the victim’s expense.
When you hire an attorney, you don’t have to worry about recognizing insurers’ ulterior motives or protecting yourself. You can simply focus on the recovery process while your lawyer fights for your financial recovery.
Specific Bad-Faith Tactics an Insurer May Use Against You (if You Lack the Protection of a Personal Injury Lawyer)
Insurance companies don’t use one single tactic to deprive accident victims of fair compensation.
Your attorney will guard against a range of tactics, which may include:
- Denying your initial claim: Insurance companies may look for every possible reason to deny a claim. Those unfamiliar with the claims process may assume that a denial signals the end of your claim, but it doesn’t. Your attorney will review the stated reason for denial and submit an amended claim that the insurer cannot so easily deny.
- Offering a lowball offer and tempting you to accept: When insurers are financially liable for an accident, they may try to tempt accident victims with a quick settlement. The first settlement is generally less than the victim deserves, but desperate beneficiaries are often cash-strapped and tempted to accept the offer.
- Contesting specific losses: An insurer may contest specific losses you seek coverage for, such as a medical operation or lost income. This is yet another negotiating tactic to reduce the total amount the insurance company pays you.
- Claiming that injuries existed before your accident: An insurer does not need to pay for injuries that existed before an accident. Therefore, an insurance company may claim that your injuries predate your accident and refuse to cover them.
Insurance companies may also try to deceive or confuse you about the details of your claim. These tactics can only work if the accident victim does not fight back. You can hire an attorney to render these bad-faith tactics ineffective.
What Happens If I Wait to Hire a Lawyer or Report Injuries?
Waiting is among the greatest mistakes someone can make after an accident—it’s right up there with admitting fault for an accident.
If you wait too long to hire a lawyer (who will then report your injuries), you can:
- Allow the statute of limitations for a lawsuit to expire, preventing you from seeking compensation through the civil justice system.
- Allow deadlines related to your insurance claim to expire, potentially forfeiting compensation in the process.
- Put yourself in a position where you must pay out of pocket for all accident-related expenses.
The only priority that should come before hiring a lawyer is seeking medical attention. Once you have received any emergency care you require, research personal injury lawyers in your area and contact those who you believe are qualified to lead your case.
There Is No Legitimate Reason to Wait to Hire an Accident Lawyer
First, recognize how much money can be at stake depending on the outcome of your insurance claim or lawsuit. An accident that causes disabling injuries often leads to overwhelming losses. If you have severe injuries, and you then factor in the cost of non-economic damages, you may have much to lose if you fail to meet your case’s deadlines.
Personal injury lawyers remove every possible reason to wait to hire them, as law firms:
- Don’t require any upfront compensation from clients: Those who come to personal injury lawyers for help are often high on stress and financial pressure and low on liquid funds. Attorneys ensure that injury victims, including you, can access legal services regardless of their financial circumstances.
- Pay for all case-related expenses: A personal injury firm will accept your case without requiring an upfront fee and cover every expense as it completes your case. These expenses can be costly. Between expert fees, manpower necessary to move the case forward, and potential court costs, you may be grateful to have a law firm funding your case from start to finish.
- Only receive a fee if they win for you: Law firms receive their fee when they secure a settlement or jury verdict for their client. This ensures that the firm will fight vigorously to secure the compensation you deserve, as they only cover their expenses if they win for you.
There are no financial reasons or other rationales for waiting to hire a lawyer. The significant risks escalate if you wait, including losing the opportunity to fight for the compensation you deserve. You cannot afford to take that risk, so find and hire a lawyer as soon as possible.
Criteria to Consider When Searching for a Personal Injury Lawyer
You don’t want to just hire an attorney for your accident claim or lawsuit—you want to hire the right attorney for your case and unique circumstances.
To hire the lawyer best suited to lead your case, consider:
- The law firm’s primary practice areas: The firm you hire should have extensive experience with your case type. For example, if you were in a truck accident, you want to find a firm that regularly handles truck accident claims.
- The firm’s reputation among former clients: Reviews from former clients speak volumes about whether a law firm delivers on its promises. When you review testimonials, you may quickly get a sense of whether former clients feel prioritized or let down by the law firm.
- The firm’s case results: You will find no clearer, more objective measure of a law firm than its case results. Look for results that are large, specific to your case type, and reflective of the client’s circumstances (such as serious injuries and wrongful deaths).
- The firm’s office location: For a law firm to provide the level of legal service you deserve, it generally helps to have an office near (or in) the city where your accident happened. Some law firms can provide effective legal services even if they don’t have a nearby office, but you should generally look near your geographic area when seeking a lawyer.
You should also consider your own interactions with the law firm, specifically your free consultation. Most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations so prospective clients can ask questions and get to know the firm’s personnel. You get to see the firm show patience, knowledge, and client service.
Recoverable Damages Personal Injury Lawyers Seek Compensation For
Recoverable damages are unique to each case. Attorneys must identify their client’s damages, work with experts to determine the monetary cost of those damages, and then seek a financial recovery that covers that cost.
Some of the damages personal injury lawyers must always consider are:
- Healthcare expenses: Most accident victims hire a lawyer because they have injuries or have lost a loved one. In either case, the individual who hires the lawyer may face significant medical bills. Their attorney will work to ensure liable parties cover those medical bills.
- Pain and suffering: Accidents can cause long-lasting physical pain, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other symptoms that qualify as pain and suffering. Attorneys consult economists and mental health professionals to determine the cost of such conditions.
- Professional damages: When accident victims miss work and lose income, they expect their lawyer to recover compensation covering lost income. A victim may also deserve compensation for missed bonuses and promotions, lost benefits, and other professional damages resulting from the accident.
- Property expenses: Several case types, including auto accident cases, involve costly property damage. Your lawyer will assign a monetary value to all property damage related to your case and include that figure in their settlement target.
An accident victim may suffer many other damages, from rehabilitation costs to disability-related expenses and the cost of losing a loved one. Your lawyer will perform a personalized review of your damages and fight for the compensation you are entitled to.
Find Your Personal Injury Lawyer as Soon as Possible
Most accident cases have statutes of limitations or other deadlines you must meet if you want to file a lawsuit. Missing your case’s filing deadline can mean losing the financial recovery you deserve, so hire an attorney as soon as possible.