You should hire a personal injury attorney so as to best protect your rights and to put yourself in the best possible position to receive compensation for your claim. Perhaps you think that you should negotiate directly with the insurance company. The insurance adjuster for the person who caused your injury may try to convince you that you should not hire an attorney. But should you really take advice from the insurance company that represents the other side?
Before you even consider attempting to handle your own claim, there are some things you should know. First, an experienced personal injury lawyer knows when to resolve your claim. If you settle your claim too early, you may be barred from receiving compensation for new injuries that arise after the case is settled.
Second, an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you evaluate any offer that you might receive so that you know whether you are getting fair compensation for your injuries. The insurance company is a business. It maximizes its profits by paying as little as possible on every claim.
Third, anything you say can be used against you should your case proceed to trial. Insurance adjusters or private investigators may be sent to take a written or recorded statement. You will be asked to provide authorizations so that the insurance company can obtain information about you. It may ask for information to which it is not entitled. The insurance company might lead you to believe that it will settle your claim if you provide all of this information. After you have provided the information, the insurance company may tell you that it does not wish to make you an offer of settlement or may make an unreasonably low offer. An experienced lawyer can guide you through the process and ensure your claim is resolved fairly.
Fourth, preparation often needs to be done to put your case in a position to receive a reasonable settlement offer. The attorney may need to gather physical evidence, witness statements and even expert reports to put your case in the best position to settle. When you are not represented by an attorney, you do not have the leverage that a lawsuit will be the response to an unreasonable settlement offer. Insurance companies keep records about attorneys. They know which attorneys are serious about pursuing their claims and which attorneys settle almost all their claims. Any settlement offer that you receive may very well reflect your lawyer’s experience and reputation. You have no experience or reputation with the insurance company.
Finally, if you represent yourself, you may make a mistake. You may settle your claim too early, only to find out that you have additional injuries and may have significant additional medical costs which were not considered when you accepted your settlement. You may miss a filing deadline and be barred from bringing a claim at all. You may fail to identify all available insurance coverage. You may not realize that there are liens against your settlement. If you settle your claim without addressing these claims against your settlement, you may be liable for reimbursement, fines and penalties. Just as an experienced accountant may pay for himself by getting you a bigger refund on your tax return, an experienced personal injury lawyer is a valuable resource that is essential to the proper handling of your claim. At Lacy Katzen LLP, our personal injury lawyers have been helping injured people and their families for 70 years.