Can I Handle My Personal Injury Claim Without a Lawyer? Millions of people suffer injuries every year due to accidents that were not their fault. From car wrecks to slip-and-fall accidents and medical malpractice, personal injuries can be serious, expensive, and have lasting consequences. The most frustrating thing about these injuries is that they could have been avoided if not for someone else’s negligence or recklessness. Luckily, personal injury law gives you an avenue for pursuing legal avenues to recovery if you have been injured due to another party’s negligence. The goal of personal injury law is to restore victims to the position that they would have been in financially if the accident had never occurred.
Sometimes it can be hard to know what kind of injury warrants retaining legal help. No one wants to feel overly litigious, and certainly not all accidents are someone else’s fault. However, it is not fair for you to bear the physical and financial burden of someone else’s negligence. If someone else’s reckless or negligent conduct caused you to suffer an injury that resulted in medical bills and other financial damages, you likely have grounds to bring a personal injury claim against them. Below, we have listed some of the most common personal injury claims that we handle at our firm. However, this list is not intended to be comprehensive. Regardless of what your injury is or how it happened, we will fight to get you the compensation to which you are entitled.
If you have a minor injury or an injury that does not require medical care, hospitalization, or time off of work to recover, then you likely do not have grounds to bring a lawsuit. However, if you have suffered an injury that also resulted in demonstrable financial damages (such as hospital bills, lost wages, etc.) and was caused by another party’s negligence, you have standing to bring a personal injury lawsuit to recover for all damages that you suffered as a result of that harm. While you are not legally required to have a lawyer to bring a personal injury lawsuit, you are unlikely to get the best outcome without an experienced attorney on your side. It can be a complicated process to negotiate a fair settlement, avoid the pitfalls of insurance, identify all potentially liable parties, and navigate the civil court system. It is also hard to get an idea of what a fair settlement would be based on the unique factors and circumstances of your case without having experience in the industry, since this information is usually confidential and is not readily available. A settlement might sound very generous until you learn that you are also entitled to recover for anticipated future costs and medical expenses. Retaining a lawyer also tends to speed up and streamline the process and give you a clear idea of what your legal strategy is and what you have to do next.
There are many challenges involved in bringing a personal injury claim without a lawyer if you do not have legal training or an abundance of free time to learn every aspect of insurance and personal injury law. It is especially tricky because victims of accidents do not start out on an even playing field with the other party or the insurance company. Claims adjusters are trained to settle for the lowest amount possible and they know every trick in the book, after all, they do this for a living.
Add this to the fact that the victim of an accident may be experiencing high pain levels, dealing with serious injuries, and may even be in a state of shock or suffering a concussion or other traumatic brain injury, and it is easy for a victim to be taken advantage of. A lawyer keeps this from happening. They advocate for your best interests when you cannot, and they fight for the best possible outcome in your case so that you can focus on your recovery. Below are some of the challenges that victims of accidents face when they attempt to bring their own personal injury claim without the assistance of an experienced attorney:
If you have suffered a serious injury in a car accident or other incident, you may be staring at mounting medical bills and becoming increasingly concerned about how much this injury will cost you. An attorney, however, is not the place to cut costs. Many people are surprised to learn how much more they are able to settle for or receive through jury awards when they have an experienced legal advocate on their team. It also allows victims to focus on their recovery, and leave the stressful legal matters to professionals who can guide them through the process as efficiently and seamlessly as possible. Lawyers can also help you avoid costly mistakes that can otherwise significantly delay the process and cost you a fair settlement.
Most personal injury lawyers work on commission, meaning that they recover a portion of any award you are given or settlement that you make. This also means that if you do not succeed in being awarded any damages, your lawyer will not be paid. This creates a strong incentive for personal injury lawyers to get you as large a settlement as possible. It also allows you to receive far more money than you would on your own. Unless you are an attorney with plenty of time on your hands, it is unlikely that you will have an accurate idea of what a fair settlement in your case is and how to best calculate all of your damages. This lack of knowledge can cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars and leave you in a bad position not too far down the road after your settlement runs out and your medical bills continue.
The value of your personal injury claim can be estimated based on a number of factors, including the economic impact that the injury had on you and the severity and permanence of your injury. When you bring a personal injury claim, you are entitled to economic damages as well as damages for pain and suffering. Economic damages are calculated based on actual expenses that you have incurred as a result of the injury. For instance, medical bills, and costs related to hospitalization, treatment, medication, physical therapy, surgery, rehabilitation, in-home care, and transportation to treatment, can all be considered economic damages. Damages for pain and suffering are determined based on your amount of economic damages as multiplied by a number that corresponds to the permanence and severity of your injury. In some cases, you may also be entitled to punitive damages.
One of the biggest benefits to hiring a lawyer to handle your personal injury claim is that they can handle talking to the insurance claims adjusters. Anyone who has been in an accident knows what a blessing is to have that task taken off of their plate. Insurance claims adjusters may seem like harmless customer service agents, but they are not there to serve you, and their interest is in serving their employer before your best interests.
Insurance claims adjusters begin contacting victims of accidents very soon afterward, and they often create a false sense of urgency to reach a settlement agreement. This is a strategic choice on their part. By getting you to settle soon after the accident when you cannot possibly know the full extent and cost of your injuries and damages yet, they will be able to get you to accept a lower settlement than you are actually entitled to. They may also be able to get you to make statements that can be used against you to try and negate or limit coverage. It is best to let a lawyer handle the negotiation process on your behalf to avoid any of these frustrating pitfalls and ensure that you receive an equitable settlement that will actually compensate you for your present and future harm.
A lawyer can help you build the strongest possible claim for recovery, but there is a lot that you can do on your own, starting at the scene of the accident. If you are physically able in the aftermath of an accident, it is a good idea to take photos and videos of the scene. You should get photos of the damage to both vehicles (or your body, depending on the kind of accident) as well as the scene of the accident.
If you were in a car accident and believe the other driver may be drunk, it is important to say this on the phone when you call 911 and/or inform officers when they arrive at the scene so that they can conduct proper testing. This is relevant because if the other party broke the law, negligence will be presumed via the doctrine of negligence per se. Regardless of the kind of accident, you can also make a note of anyone present who may have witnessed it and get their contact information so they can provide their account of events to police or insurance.
As soon as possible after the accident, it is important to seek medical attention. Sometimes injuries, such as soft tissue injuries or traumatic brain injuries, are not immediately apparent, but it is still important to see a medical professional as it also begins building documentation for your claim, should you choose to bring one. It is a good idea at that point to begin keeping a journal related to your injuries. Each day, it is a good idea to record any expenses you incurred due to your injury (co-pays, medical bills, medication costs) as well as whether you missed work and any other impacts the injuries had on your daily life. For instance, if you were unable to hold your grandchild due to an arm injury sustained in a negligent slip-and-fall accident, make a note of this. You can also keep track of your pain, and keep photos of your injuries as well as medical documentation. This journal will be invaluable when it comes to calculating both economic damages and damages for pain and suffering.
Regardless of whether and how you choose to move forward with your claim, this will be very helpful and can also provide critical information and insights to your lawyer when they are building your case and calculating your damages, as well as for when they are negotiating your settlement.
If you have been injured in the City of Hamilton, the county of Butler, or the greater Ohio area due to someone else’s negligence or recklessness, the experienced personal injury attorneys at the Law Firm of Kruger & Hodges want to hear from you. Contact the Law Firm of Kruger & Hodges today to schedule a consultation and find out how we can help.