Should I try to handle my claim on my own or should I hire an attorney?
Personal injury lawyers are paid a percentage of the recovery they obtain for you. It may appear at first glance that you can maximize your recovery by handling your claim on your own without having to pay a lawyer. You know that you’ve been wronged; why bother with the expense of an attorney?
However, letting an attorney handle your case will be better for you in the long run since an experienced attorney understands all of the minute details of the law, including aspects that you might not be aware of.
Hire an attorney to help with your personal injury case
An attorney will usually increase the amount of your recovery. Even with their fee, you may very well come out with a bigger payout than you would have gotten by going it alone.
Why do lawyers get bigger payouts?
First, about 95% of personal injury cases are settled pretrial. Those transactions generally go through the insurance company of the party that caused your injury. You can certainly manage a settlement on your own, but you’ll just have to deal with what the insurance company offers. They’re going to lowball you. They make money by minimizing payments to victims.
Insurance adjusters may deny your claim, blame your injuries on pre-existing conditions, limit settlement offers based on low impact or low physical damage to the vehicles, or settle a claim right after the accident before the victim has time to hire an attorney. Insurance companies have fleets of lawyers on staff. They know when you have a good claim against them, but they’re counting on the fact that you don’t share that knowledge.
An attorney, on the other hand, knows exactly what you can claim and how to get it. Attorneys have the experience and the training to negotiate with insurance companies to ensure that accident victims get what they deserve. They know how to fight the insurance companies’ tactics and make sure your injuries don’t get blamed on pre-existing conditions. They can make sure you’re compensated for your pain and suffering and other non-medical damage. When faced with an attorney rather than just the victim, insurance companies know that they can’t simply pressure you into accepting an unfairly low offer.
How an attorney will handle your case
If the insurance company denies your claim or refuses to offer a reasonable settlement, your only resort is to sue the insured party. If you’re looking at a lawsuit, you’ll need an attorney to handle the ins and outs of court.
A lawsuit has very specific rules and procedures, and a small error may be enough to cost you your entire case. Without a properly formulated legal argument, you can lose your case even though you’re in the right. Your attorney knows the local court rules and how to make a proper legal argument – what to say and how and when to say it.
Your attorney also knows how to get the evidence you need from the party that injured you. You can be sure that the person or business that caused your injury will have an experienced team of attorneys and you don’t want to face that expertise alone. Lawyers go through years of intensive education to learn how to navigate the court system so that you don’t have to worry about it.
Your North Carolina attorney will also be an expert in North Carolina law – most personal injury issues are state law issues and you need an attorney with in-depth knowledge of the local rules and regulations.
If you accept a settlement offer or represent yourself at trial without an attorney, there’s nothing you can do to change a bad outcome. An experienced attorney will make sure you get what you deserve upfront, with no funny business from the insurance company or the insured.
Can you represent yourself?
There are certain cases where the expense of an attorney may not be worth it. For minor injuries that led to minor expenses, you may prefer to simply handle the case yourself. If your injuries were mostly bumps and bruises, the recovery probably won’t be enough to justify hiring an attorney.
However, you will be responsible for following all of the court rules and managing all the necessary evidence. A mistake can cost you your whole case. You may also choose to represent yourself if an attorney won’t accept your case, which generally occurs because it has a low chance of success.
The best way to determine whether you need an attorney is to talk to one. If you’ve been injured in an accident and need an attorney to help you with your case, contact the attorneys at SeiferFlatow to schedule a consultation.