Accidents are unexpected events. People are rarely prepared for the aftermath. Beyond the traumatizing injury, you also must deal with medical bills, insurance companies, legal paperwork – not to mention delays. All of which is overwhelming, especially when recovering from the injury.
For most people, the next logical step is usually to hire a personal injury lawyer. After all, the lawyer is better poised to handle your case, eliminating the possibility of:
- An unreasonably low settlement
- Longer claim process
- No compensation at all
- Medical bills going into collections
Although we always recommend that people take advantage of the free consultations offered by nearly every personal injury law firm in the United States, there are times when hiring an attorney may not make much sense:
1. You Have the Time Needed to Pursue Your Claim
If you have the time, you may have what it takes to pursue your claim successfully. After all, presenting a personal injury claim to an auto insurance company is not Quantum Physics.
While experience and expertise help lawyers pursue your claim more efficiently, handling a personal injury claim is well within your ability. You only need to put in the time to understand the necessary steps and then take action.
The claim process involves:
- Making phone calls
- Obtaining relevant records and documents
- Obtaining copies of all applicable insurance policies
- Understanding the insurance coverage
- Following up on every detail
Bottom line, if you have extra time – at least 10 hours per week – you can be well poised to pursue your claim.
2. You Understand How Insurance Works
While most people know how to buy insurance, few individuals know how to use insurance. That is, understanding:
- The terms and conditions of the applicable insurance policies;
- Whether additional insurance policies apply;
- Whether there are any excess or umbrella insurance policies;
- Understanding health insurance subrogation;
- How the claim process and insurance adjusters work; and,
- How different insurance policies work with each other.
In addition to the knowledge gap, insurance claims can get complex fast. For one, insurance policies are subject to varying laws based on state jurisdictions. Now think of being involved in an accident in a different jurisdiction from where the defendant (at-fault person) resides.
If you understand how insurance works – how to use it and whatnot – you may be able to handle your injury claim successfully. The same goes if your family member is an insurance broker, adjuster, or familiar with the insurance claim process. Or if you believe you will net more awards without having to pay an attorney contingency fee.
Most personal injury claims resolve through negotiations before a lawsuit is filed. As a result, very few end up in court.
Points to remember:
- You must remain objective – do not let emotions get the best of you
- You must understand everything that entitles you to compensation under the law
- The insurance carrier(s) in question is working to pay you as little as possible
- Insurance companies will have their eyes open for any pitfalls they can use against you. Think of something as simple as phrasing a sentence wrongly.
3. You Do Not Want to Receive Compensation
Some people do not care about compensation for their injuries. These individuals often fall into one of the following categories:
- The person is very wealthy
- The person does not believe in the American justice system
- The person does not appreciate the financial consequences of failing to bring a claim
It is easy to take on this attitude tell yourself that you do not want to obtain compensation:
- You were not injured
- Suffered a minor injury
- Have a great health insurance coverage
- You did not miss any work or suffer any lost wages due to your injuries
However, a lax attitude is not advisable in claims involving serious injury. People and companies across the United States spend billions each year paying insurance premiums for a reason.
4. There is Insufficient Insurance Coverage
A liability insurance policy is always limited—there is a maximum amount of money that the insurance carrier is responsible for (when compensating losses accruing from incidents & accidents that trigger coverage).
For example, if the defendant has an auto insurance policy with a $25,000.00 bodily injury policy limit. Their insurance carrier is obliged to pay up to $25,000.00 to a claimant who suffers bodily injury due to their insured’s negligent conduct.
When an insurance carrier learns that the value of the injured party’s claim far exceeds their insured’s contracted policy limit, the insurance company will pay that policy limit to the claimant as quickly as they can. Insurance companies make these quick payments to prevent any potential exposure for acting in bad faith.
Seeing that personal injury lawyers charge contingency fees – i.e., a percentage of your compensation – an attorney may not be necessary where the injuries far exceed the available insurance coverage and the liability is clear.
It is often challenging to discover all available insurance policies. If faced with a limited insurance policy, it is always a good idea to retain an attorney to ensure that all available insurance coverage is disclosed before settling. Insurance carriers are notorious for withholding excess insurance information. Additionally, an attorney may help you recover a settlement or judgment that exceeds the insurance policy limits and uncover other liable parties with their own insurance policies.
5. You Suffered a Minor Injury or No Injury At All
Not every accident or incident results in injuries. Generally, a personal injury lawyer’s experience and expertise won’t help you much in cases of minor injuries.
7. The Accident Was Your Fault
Now, this is obvious. If you caused an accident and sustained injuries, you probably cannot sue anyone else. However, more often than not, both vehicles involved in a car accident bear some responsibility for causing the accident. Therefore, if there is any reason to believe that the other vehicle contributed to causing the accident, you should not just assume that the accident was your fault and that you cannot bring a claim for personal injury.
If you’re at fault and have automobile insurance, your carrier should provide you with a lawyer to defend you without charge.
8. You Do Not Like Lawyers
Given the ‘bad’ reputation and misconceptions surrounding personal injury attorneys, it’s not a wonder that some people do not like lawyers.
So, if you’re one of the people who believe lawyers are:
- Only in it for the money
- Trying to cheat on you
- Feeding off your tragedies
- Only care about the case (and not you)
- And so on.
If you believe lawyers are pirates – you probably have heard stories your whole life that attorneys are after your money and whatnot – consider pursuing the claim yourself. After all, it isn’t easy to work with someone that you will not trust under any circumstance.
Conclusion: Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney Is Not Always the Best Idea
Consulting with a personal injury attorney is always a good idea. However, hiring a personal injury lawyer may not be the best course of action despite the TV and radio commercials telling you otherwise. We receive dozens of calls each week from individuals seeking to hire our law firm to represent them. However, only a small percentage of these callers have cases that will benefit from legal representation. If you or a loved one suffered injuries due to another’s negligence, call our office for a free and confidential consultation by dialing (305) 694-2676. We will provide you with an honest assessment of your case.