Do I need an attorney if I get into an accident?
Do I need an attorney to file a lawsuit for me if I have been injured in an accident? Can’t I handle the case myself?
The short answers to these questions are no and yes, right? Why should it make a difference? The injuries, lost wages, pain and suffering are the same whether there is a lawsuit or not, right?
Let’s outline the options that you have after you have been in an accident that has caused you injury:
1) You can handle it yourself and deal directly with the insurance company.
2) You can hire an attorney to handle it for you without filing suit—just to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company. Or,
3) You can hire an attorney and file suit against the responsible party.
If you are handling the case on your own, there is no difference in the “value” of the case, but the difference may be in whether you actually are offered and ultimately settle for the true value of your case.
If you have suffered a personal injury and are entitled to compensation, you may also be wondering how to determine what an appropriate settlement would look like. You have the right to be compensated for your pain and suffering and you should be able to recoup your medical bills and lost wages.
If you do not ask for an amount that represents the true value of your claim, then it is in the hands of the claims adjuster to offer you an amount that may or may not be appropriate. But how will you know? Do you know the insurance liability limits? Are there other sources of insurance? What is the adjuster likely to pay out? Do you know how to assess the value of your case? And how are your negotiating skills?
But remember, the adjusters work for the insurance company, which wants to pay out as little as possible. If you have never negotiated a claim like this before, you may not know how to bargain.
If you have not filed a lawsuit, but you have an attorney handling the claim for you, he or she will know what documentation to provide to the insurance company to support your claim, and he or she will do a thorough evaluation of the claim to know what to ask for when it comes time to make a demand for settlement.
Having an attorney also changes the settlement dynamic; it levels the playing field, so to speak. The attorney may also be able to uncover other sources of compensation, which may not be readily ascertainable to you. Does it make a difference if he has filed a lawsuit on your behalf or not? Yes and no. If he has not, he or she is dealing directly with the adjuster. Your attorney’s job as your advocate is to get a fair settlement of your claim that represents the true value of your case.
Negotiating a fair settlement is a give-and-take process. If your attorney files a lawsuit, he is now dealing with another attorney on the other side rather than an insurance adjuster. The adjuster still holds the purse strings, but the attorney is relied upon for his evaluation of the case. The court is involved in the supervision of the case by this point and has deadlines for the filing of various documents and for attending certain meetings towards settling the case. Depositions of witnesses may be taken and important documents may be subpoenaed (legally demanded), such as wage loss information, medical records, etc.
In other words, there is pressure from the court, but now there is also sufficient time to get more information across to the other side to support your case and to help your attorney to do a thorough evaluation. Is the value of the case different just because a lawsuit was filed? No, it is not, but you are much more likely to obtain a settlement that reflects the true value of the case rather than one that compromises value for expediency.
Here at Oracle Law Group, our personal injury attorneys are experienced when it comes to handling claims and negotiating with insurance companies. That is why you need to bring your personal injury lawsuit to us. We can work to get you a better settlement amount than you can probably get on your own. We work hard to ensure you get proper compensation for your personal injury so that you do not have the added stress of a low personal injury settlement amount.