Should I Hire an Attorney for Personal Injury Cases?
We wanted to share this question and answer on our blog as it may help our readers…
I have an ongoing injury case where the insurance company wants to settle. And as part of this settlement process, they want me to release my medical papers to them. Is this a normal procedure? They haven’t even given me a settlement figure yet, so I want to make sure I proceed correctly and not make any detrimental decisions to my case. I also want to know if I should retain legal services.
There is only one reason not to retain a lawyer: you do not want to pay the lawyer’s fees. In some cases it may be a good reason, because attorneys’ fees are often one-third of the total recovery and usually more if a lawsuit is filed.
There certainly are personal injury cases where the client would have netted a larger recovery by not having a lawyer. But that is the exception rather than the rule.
In most personal injury cases, a client is better served by hiring competent counsel. An experienced personal injury lawyer can evaluate your case so that you know whether you are getting fair compensation.
The insurance companies’ goal is to pay you as little as possible. Since case evaluation isn’t something people frequently do, they are not aware of a fair settlement offer or the trial value of their case.
An experienced personal injury lawyer has seen hundreds of these cases and knows how to evaluate all the factors that go into a settlement or trial. When you are not represented by an attorney, the insurance company knows that you are not prepared if your case does not settle. A personal injury lawyer has leverage. The insurance company knows that an experienced trial lawyer will file a lawsuit if they don’t negotiate in good faith.
More work than you are capable of often needs to be done to put your personal injury case in a position to negotiate a reasonable offer. There is more involved than just providing the medical bills and records to the insurance adjuster. You might need a report from a doctor that outlines the cause of your injuries. You might need a vocational or economic expert to explain financial losses that you sustained. An attorney who handles personal injury cases know what experts are needed to properly present your claims.
An experienced personal injury lawyer is a skilled advocate and negotiator. They can explain why your case deserves more money than the insurance company offers.
You might think you can advocate your own case to the insurance company. In some ways, you can explain your pain and suffering better than anyone else can. However, clients that talk to the insurance company often say things that hurt their case. The insurance adjuster is not your friend, no matter how nice they are to you. Their job is to pay out the least amount of money possible.
People that try to handle their own case usually mess it up. There are filing deadlines to preserve; there are claims for damages that can be missed; there are statements that are made to the insurance company that should not have been made; there are medical reports that should have been part of the claim that weren’t obtained; or there is evidence that wasn’t preserved.
All that being said, there are cases where it is not worth the fee to hire an attorney. Those are cases where there is little or no injury suffered, or where there is only property damage sustained. Beyond that, it is wise to consult with an attorney to protect your rights. Consultations are free. Call us before you decide to handle your case on your own. We can be reached at 215-348-5455 or via email at [email protected].