Can I Handle My Personal Injury Claim Myself?
July 5, 2012
You may be asking yourself, “Why would I ask a personal injury attorney
if I can handle a claim on my own?” “Isn’t the injury attorney
always going to say that I need a lawyer?” — No!— There are certainly
personal injury cases where you do not need a lawyer. Why would I tell
you this? The short (and self interested) answer is because I rely heavily
on referrals from other clients for my business.
If I do not believe that I can add value to your personal injury claim,
I will not represent you. The last thing I would ever want to happen is
that you end up with less because of our involvement. It is bad for business,
but more importantly, it is simply not the right thing to do. However,
before you run out and try to settle your personal injury without a lawyer,
you need to better understand what factors to consider before going at
it on your own.
Compare the following:
Situation 1: Just this week I received a call from a potential client who wanted my
opinion on whether or not she should hire me or should just settle the
claim on her own She is a smart, educated woman who had been doing a pretty
good job of handling the claim on her own. Her claim was well organized
and she had a solid grasp of her general rights under the law. Her case
was extremely straight forward in that the other driver was clearly at
fault and her injuries were relatively modest in that she had made a good
recovery within a couple of months. At the time that she contacted me,
she had already received an offer on her claim. We discussed her case
at length and I gave her some pointers and told her that I thought she
could handle this claim on her own.
Situation 2: Earlier this year I received a call from a potential client who already
had an offer on her case. She too was smart, educated and seemed to have
a good grasp on her rights. She had all of her medical treatment organized
and was able to see that the offer did not seem all that fair. Based upon
my review of the case, I accepted representation and was able to get her
over 24 times what the insurance company had offered her when she was
handling the claim on her own. Plus, her health insurance company was
attempting to get payment from her and I was able to reduce the amount
they wanted by two-thirds.
So what are the factors that would make us accept one case over another?
Here is a general list to help you decide whether or not you should go
at it on your own. If you have questions about what to do, please call
an experienced personal injury attorney in Georgia to help answer these
Is it clear that the other party is responsible for causing the accident
or the incident? – If this is not clear, then you will likely need a lawyer to prove that
the other person is responsible. A good indicator is whether or not the
insurance company readily acknowledges that they are responsible for your
injuries. If not, call a lawyer immediately and do not give a recorded
statement. There may be situations such as drinking and driving or hit
and run where the liability is clear, but you will still need a lawyer.
In these situations you could be entitled to punitive damages. This is
an area of the law that is by no means intuitive and you should clearly
speak to a personal injury lawyer if this is the situation your are presented with.
Are your injuries clearly related to the accident or incident? – Have you had other injuries that are similar to the ones you have experienced
in the accident? Did you receive medical treatment soon following the
accident and did you have consistent medical treatment? If the insurance
company is questioning your injuries or the reasonableness of your medical
treatment, it is likely that you will need a lawyer.
How severe are your injuries? – If you have significant injuries you will definitely need a lawyer.
Every insurance policy has limits on what will be paid out for personal
injuries. Odds are that if you have received significant injuries, there
will be some type of policy cap on what you can recover. However, there
are ways to combine various policies to make sure that this cap is larger.
Insurance laws and coverage issues can be complicated and only an Injury
Lawyer will be able to sort out those coverages to make sure that you
are getting every penny to which you are entitled.
Do you have private health insurance or Medicaid/Medicare? – If you have any type of health insurance whether it be private or provided
by the government then that odds are highly likely that you will need
a lawyer. When health insurance has paid for your medical bills they will
almost always claim that you have to pay them back if you receive a settlement
(this is called subrogation). This is true regardless of whether or not
the health insurance carrier is legally entitled to be paid back. A good
Atlanta Personal Injury Lawyer will be able to determine whether or not
your health insurance has a right to be paid back. Even if they have a
right to be paid back your lawyer should be able to negotiate a reduction
if he or she understands the law. This can result in the difference of
thousands of dollars to you.
If you do not have health insurance, are you able to get good medical treatment? – Remember, insurance companies will not pay for your medical treatment
as it occurs. Many times a doctor will not see you if you cannot pay for
the treatment up front or do not have health insurance. If you are having
trouble getting medical treatment then you should speak to a lawyer without
delay. An attorney should be able to work with your doctor to ensure that
you are getting medical treatment and then the attorney will be able to
pay the doctor at the end of your case.
These are just some basic factors to consider in determining whether or
not you need to hire a Personal Injury Lawyer. Please call our office for your
free, no obligation legal consultation and we will be happy to go over your specific facts to determine whether
or not you need a lawyer.