You’ve probably seen many ads for personal injury lawyers on television, billboards around town, and social media. Most personal injury attorneys are eager to take as many cases as possible, but some honest lawyers will admit that there are times when you do not need a lawyer to handle your injury case. We will discuss some of these specific situations.
Of course, it is not always possible to tell whether you should retain an attorney or not. For this reason, it is always good to consult with a lawyer about your case to determine whether you can handle your personal injury claim on your own.
1. You Don’t Have Any Injuries
If you have not suffered any injuries after a car accident, you do not have a personal injury claim. You might still have a property damage claim for the damage to your vehicle, but a personal injury claim cannot exist if you do not suffer some sort of physical or mental injury. Of course, just because you feel okay at the scene of the accident does not mean you have not sustained any injuries. It is vital to get checked out by your doctor. Only a qualified medical professional can determine whether or not you have been injured in an accident.
Furthermore, some injuries may not show symptoms for hours – or even days – after an accident occurs. If you decide not to hire an attorney and settle your case before your injuries have become symptomatic, it might be too late to get any compensation for them. There is no need to let an insurance company rush you into signing a settlement in the days immediately after an accident. You have the right to get any medical examinations and legal advice that you need.
2. The Insurance Company Is Offering You a Settlement That You Feel is Fair
In some cases – especially simple cases without complicated losses like lost income or pain and suffering – the insurance company may offer you a fair settlement offer based on your medical and repair bills. If you are certain that an offer is fair, it may be best to accept it rather than investing your time and energy into a fight over the possibility that you may be able to get a little more money.
There are a few things to be aware of when you agree to settle your personal injury claim. First, the insurance company will always say that the offer is fair and that you cannot do better at trial. You always have the right to consult with your own lawyer to see if the settlement is actually fair. Second, once you settle with the insurance company, it is almost impossible to set aside the settlement or try to get more money later. This is true even if something unexpected happens later.
You might find out that your injuries are worse than you thought, or that the driver was drunk, or that something else has happened that might change what you consider to be a “fair” settlement. It is important to consider all these unexpected events. You must be very, very sure that the offer is fair before you sign away your right to a trial. For these reasons, it’s always a good idea to at least meet with a lawyer before accepting a settlement offer.
3. You Are Comfortable Negotiating with the Insurance Company
Most people do not have to negotiate with insurance adjusters on a daily basis. If you do not have experience doing so, you probably do not want to try it for the first time when your legal rights are on the line. But some people have had to negotiate with insurance adjusters before. Others are comfortable handling the negotiations due to the type of work they do. If you feel confident that you can get the insurance company to negotiate fairly, you can do so on your own without an attorney.
It is still important to consider the legal issues that might be at play in your case. Even if you are a skilled negotiator, the insurance company’s representative might try to derail your claim with allegations of contributory negligence, delayed medical treatment, products liability on a defective vehicle, or other legal issues. All of these factors can affect what a fair settlement offer should be in your case. You should let your own attorney review these issues to see if they will impact your chances at trial. Never, ever, take advice on any legal issue from the other driver’s insurance company or its lawyers. If it is your own insurance company, they are contractually obligated to defend you, and their lawyers have a professional obligation to protect your insurance company’s interests in defending you.
4. The Accident Was Your Fault
When is your own insurance company involved in a claims investigation? If you are at fault. When you cause an accident, your insurance company has a contractual obligation to cover any liability you incur to others, up to the limits of your policy. As a result, you will probably not need an attorney to represent you. That said, if your insurance company tries to avoid its contractual obligations, you should contact an attorney immediately.
Unfortunately, not all accidents have one driver who was clearly at fault. In many cases, the fault will be apportioned between both drivers. Liability can even fall on a third party that wasn’t at the accident. A common example of when this can occur is when a vehicle defect causes an accident. Auto manufacturers are liable for accidents caused by defective parts, systems, or entire vehicles that they sell. This fact is why car companies will voluntarily issue recalls and pay for repairs, rather than settling personal injury claims from accidents caused by the defect.
If you were only partly at fault for the accident, you still have the right to be compensated for the portion of your injuries that were caused by the other driver. For example, if two drivers were each half at fault for an accident, each could seek compensation for his or her injuries from the other driver’s insurance company. The insurance company would value the total amount of the claim, then offer a settlement of half that total since its own driver caused only half the damage.
As you can see, liability is a complicated legal issue. It is important to consult with your own personal injury lawyer in cases where you were partly at fault for the accident. Even if the other driver’s insurance company claims that you were entirely at fault, you still have the right to seek an opinion from your own personal injury attorney. The other insurance company’s lawyer is not on your side. You don’t have to take their legal advice, even if they are an attorney.
5. You Have Plenty of Free Time to Pursue Your Claim
Personal injury claims take time. Even filling out simple paperwork can take hours – especially if you are not familiar with the process and must learn as you go. You will also need to collect medical records, bills from your providers, repair estimates for your vehicle, and other documentation. Often the insurance company will ask for more documentation than what you have provided. The process of gathering all the required documentation can be exhausting – which is why it’s usually a good idea for injured victims to retain a lawyer. Having an attorney handle your claim can allow you to focus on what is really important, which is your physical and emotional recovery.
Some people have the time to spend on these tasks, and would rather do it themselves than hire an attorney. But many busy injury victims with jobs and families simply do not have the time to spare. In this case, you should hire an attorney to handle these tasks for you. Personal injury staff members have experience in collectingl documentation quickly and at the lowest possible cost. They can accomplish these kinds of clerical tasks while the lawyer is reviewing all potential legal issues in your case. The cost of hiring a personal injury lawyer is well worth it when you consider the hours you could spend trying to process your own claim correctly. It is also worth it in the results you achieve. Many victims are able to get a larger settlement with an attorney than they would have by settling the claim on their own.
6. You Are Prepared to File a Personal Lawsuit in Court
It should not surprise you to learn that insurance companies do not settle claims because they want to give you money. The reason they settle claims is to avoid going to court. This means that you have to make it clear that you will go to court if needed in order to get a fair settlement offer. Sometimes, insurance companies assume that injury victims who do not have attorneys are not willing to go to court. They make lowball settlement offers, knowing that they can get away with it if the victim does not want to file a lawsuit. The way to prevent this is to make it clear during your settlement negotiations that you will file a lawsuit if you do not get a fair settlement offer.
Some people are able to file a lawsuit on their own. Again, this takes a fair amount of time and energy, and you will have to spend time learning how to do it if you have not filed a lawsuit before. Even if you are able to file the suit, however, you must be prepared to “prosecute your claim.” This is a legal term that refers to moving your case forward. If you fail to do so, your case can be dismissed. You will need to properly serve the appropriate documents on the defendant and his or her insurance company. If you still do not get a fair settlement offer after filing the lawsuit, you will need to attend court hearings and communicate with the judge. You will then have to start the discovery process. This consists of exchanging documents, formal written questions, and other evidence in the case. The other driver’s insurance company will also be allowed to depose you.
All of these steps are difficult for anyone to do without a lawyer. In fact, filing a prosecuting a lawsuit is difficult for even many inexperienced lawyers. Even if you figure out how to get through the process, you are likely to make some innocent mistake that could impair your legal rights.
You can hire a lawyer after filing a lawsuit, but it will be more difficult to protect your legal rights. A personal injury attorney has the best chance at developing the best legal strategy for your case if he or she is involved from the very beginning. Besides, getting an attorney involved at the last minute doesn’t help you at the start of your claim when you need to confidently assure the insurance adjuster that you will file a lawsuit if necessary. Carefully consider the entire court process before you make decisions about filing a lawsuit in your case.
An Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Who Will Tell You If You Need a Lawyer
Sometimes you need a lawyer to tell you if you need a lawyer. The skilled attorneys at Arash Law have over twenty years of experience handling cases of all sizes. We can help you determine whether it is worth it to hire a lawyer for your particular case.
When clients need our help, we fight hard and get results. We have collected over 150 million dollars for clients in San Francisco, Riverside, San Jose, San Diego, Sacramento, Sherman Oaks, and throughout California. We negotiate fair settlement offers, and when necessary, we file lawsuits and fight hard in court. Call (888) 488-1391 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with one of the experienced California personal injury attorneys at Arash Law.