When should you hire a personal injury lawyer to handle your case? This is a question many injured victims ask themselves, with a good percentage of them confused whether they actually need a lawyer. A good lawyer can help injured victims receive appropriate and deserving compensation in cases where there has been negligence on the part of the defendant. Medical record review is the first important step in evaluating a personal injury case, which makes the easy accessibility and availability of medical records a major requirement. Though the number of lawsuits being filed in the U.S is increasing, with courts reporting around 5% increase year-over-year of civil case filings in the district courts in 2016, in more than 75% of civil trial cases at least one party does not have lawyer representation, according to the NCSC (National Center for State Courts) and the SJI (State Justice Institute).
The role of a personal injury lawyer is significant if the injury was the result of someone else’s negligence and you have to prove fault. This involves applying particular standards to the evidence which in turn needs a thorough understanding of the court system and injury law. Moreover, legal representation will ensure that the evidence pertaining to the claims is properly collected. The decision to hire a personal injury lawyer is an important one and merits certain considerations.
- The seriousness of the injury: If the injuries are serious (disabling or long-term injuries) and need medical attention or are causing pain and discomfort and disrupting normal life even after a few days, legal representation could help. For instance, if the victim needs hospitalization, surgery, physical therapy, or some other medical procedure, it is best that a lawyer looks into the case. Since these involve medical expenses, reliable legal counsel will help injured people get the results they are looking for. Expert legal assistance will help evaluate how the injuries will impact the victim’s earning capacity over time.
- When multiple parties are involved or liability is not clear: Representation by a personal injury lawyer is necessary when multiple parties may be liable for your injuries. If many people have been injured, the compensation could be reduced because there may not be as much settlement money to be distributed. Moreover, if you are partially at fault for the accident, your settlement offer could be decreased. In such instances, an attorney can provide the necessary protection against counterclaims and cross-claims by the other parties involved in the accident.
- The entity you are fighting against: Are you filing the case against an influential or large entity such as a government or corporation? Such entities will have an experienced legal team to represent them and protect them. You could end up losing if you plan to handle your own case against such experienced legal counsel.
- Has an insurance company contacted you regarding the accident? In such an instance, it is best to have a lawyer represent you. The insurance company typically requests for documents such as medical records, your version of the incident, recorded statements and so on. Such information should be shared only under the guidance of a legal expert because otherwise it could harm your case.
- When the insurance company refuses to make a fair settlement: Only an efficient personal injury lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company and obtain deserving compensation for you. In some cases, the insurance company may engage in bad faith insurance tactics (denying a claim without giving a reason, not conducting a complete and fair investigation, delaying/denying claims or requests for approval of medical treatment, and so on), which calls for the services of a personal injury lawyer.
- When the settlement received is inadequate: This requires negotiating to increase the settlement, and a personal injury lawyer knows how to negotiate on the injured person’s behalf.
- The time taken to settle the claim: Handling all the legal aspects of the case is tough for inexperienced plaintiffs. There may be state laws that affect the case, and various types of compensation available, and fault and legal liability. Your case could roll on for months or years, especially if there are multiple parties involved.
- Court time required: An experienced legal team can be of great support if your case is likely to go to court and involves various parties including medical experts and witnesses. Legal experts will help prepare to question these people in court and represent you in front of a judge.
A personal injury lawyer can help injured victims secure substantial compensation and offers services ranging from preparing evidence via a comprehensive medical record review, to getting you ready for a trial, to asking the right questions in court – all of which require considerable legal expertise and experience. Typically, personal injury lawyers have skilled teams including investigators to examine the technical aspects of your case and medical review services to provide the very important review of the medical evidence. Most personal injury law firms provide a free consultation before taking on an injury case. Sometimes, lengthy trials may not be necessary to resolve your case – an experienced attorney can guide you regarding whether your case can be best worked out via ADR (alternative dispute resolution) methods such as arbitration or mediation that can save you time, money, and energy.