Those involved in minor “fender bender” collisions with minimal injuries may find the insurer's settlement offer sufficient to cover the damage and move forward without an attorney. Those who are moderately injured are strongly encouraged to retain legal counsel. Insurance companies are businesses seeking to remain profitable; therefore, attempting to navigate a moderate to severe injury claim should be done with assistance from a personal injury lawyer accustomed to working with them. Keep in mind that court employees are not resources for legal advice. They will merely provide you access to forms, the local rules, fee information, etc. We will next look at the five reasons why you will benefit from the assistance of an attorney in these matters.
When Fault is Contested
In accidents where the party at fault is being disputed, an attorney may be the difference between recovering damages or not. Proving the negligence of an opposing party may require a firm understanding of the technical aspects of related evidence and there are many potential variables. Keep in mind that you are not automatically barred from bringing a claim if you were issued a citation from the police at the scene of the accident. A seasoned injury attorney will have the knowledge necessary to present a strong case on your behalf using tools such as medical documentation, accident data, witness interviews, and more.
Capability of Proceeding to Trial
Many who attempt to represent themselves find the process to be complex, requiring a great deal of time, expensive, and tense. If you make a procedural error, violate local rules, or are unable to meet a deadline, the court may impose penalties. Opposing counsel is likely to believe they have a clear advantage as the litigation progresses and that a self-represented party is unlikely to prevail in a trial. When you enter these matters with an attorney, you are doing so from a position of greater strength, and defense counsel will know that your claim has the capability of being taken to trial if necessary.
Insurance Company Negotiation & Tactics
The insurance company is likely to be represented by veteran adjusters, attorneys, or other representation. These individuals may attempt to manipulate a party who is representing themselves, or employ a host of strategies or tactics for their benefit. Having experienced legal representation allows for you to be in a much better position for negotiating and helps ensure you are treated fairly.
Assessing & Calculating Damages to Maximize Recovery
When accidents lead to severe injuries and long-term impairment, the plaintiff will be pursuing significantly greatly compensation. In addition, there may be a wide scope of different damages that require complex calculation. Some of the more complex include those for deformity, disfigurement, pain and suffering, and future lost wages and medical costs. In these situations, the knowledge and familiarity that a personal injury lawyer possesses is critical.
Potential Costs of Litigating
Often individuals may be reluctant to pursue legal actions because they simply do not have the resources to secure an attorney. In the realm of personal injury law, it is normal that the attorney agree to represent plaintiffs on a contingency basis. This means that attorney fees are not paid until an award or settlement is obtained. This allows injury victims the ability to seek recovery in the court system regardless of income. In addition, there are typically a variety of potential fees incurred that the attorney will cover as the case progresses such as:
- Court filing fees
- Deposition-related costs
- Fees for copying documents
- Expert witness fees
- Fees for court reporting
We have discussed five key reasons why injury victims should retain a personal injury lawyer. These are some of the more common advantages, yet other significant benefits may apply as well. One important thing to remember is always to consult with an experienced attorney in a timely manner, as you are likely subject to some time constraints for pursuing a claim. It is also recommended that the lawyer you consult with has a practice that is specifically focused on personal injury law. This includes cases of wrongful death, auto accidents, construction accidents, dog bites, cases of premises liability, and others.