In filing a personal injury claim, you may consider representing yourself to save on the added expense of hiring a lawyer or the perceived loss of compensation due to paying a lawyer part of your award or settlement. You may think representing yourself after an accident could be the way to go—that you would “probably” save on fees and expenses or make more money being fully compensated, but that is simply not true—and there are studies to back it. A combination of factors ranging from lack of experience in legal matters to dealing with insurance companies will cost you and severely hurt your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Not convinced?
Four Reasons to Consider Not Representing Yourself in a Personal Injury Claim
Lack of experience
Whether you are a carpenter or an engineer, as a measure of success, experience counts in your profession. It’s no different in the practice of law. When filing a personal injury claim, understanding the law—the legal system, its processes and procedures—is integral to a successful outcome. Lack of experience and knowledge can lead to costly mistakes that will, at the very least, result in you being awarded less than you deserve. You must work out a detailed legal strategy to ensure a favorable outcome and rightful compensation. At a minimum, you will have to know how to file the paperwork correctly to establish your claim legally. There’s more; for example, building your case may require knowledge of depositions, requests for admission, interrogatories, and more during your investigation. If you go to trial, you must know and follow the rules and proceedings in a courtroom. There is no coaching; you cannot ask for help, nor will you receive a pass solely based on your ignorance of trial procedures. The judge and court clerks will not guide you through the process. They are prohibited from doing so. Experience is one of the primary reasons to have a personal injury lawyer represent you.
The cost of litigation is not free. There are costs and fees associated with legal proceedings, whether you hire an attorney or not. For starters, in addition to knowing how to file a claim correctly, you must have the funds on hand to cover the filing fees and, if necessary, any other court costs. You may have to pay expert witness fees and any costs associated with information gathering or investigations. Filing lawsuits are document-intensive, too. Administrative expenses can include the cost of depositions and even hiring a court reporter to take depositions, making copies of transcripts and numerous medical reports, and mailing or couriering high-priority documents with guaranteed delivery.
Not understanding the full scope of damages
To understand how much your personal injury claim is worth, to be awarded just compensation, you must know the full scope of damages that your personal injury has caused you. Damages are not simply related to direct financial losses such as current or recurring medical expenses or lost income and wages. There are non-economic and punitive damages should be accounted for in your claim. An experienced personal injury attorney can accurately calculate intangible monetary sums such as pain and suffering, emotional trauma, or the loss of quality of life. In addition to economic and non-economic damages, there may be instances where punitive damages apply. This would include gross negligence or willful misconduct. An experienced lawyer can assess the full scope of damages and their worth far greater than you can.
Dealing with insurance companies
If you are injured due to someone else’s negligence, you will need to know how much you are justly entitled to. The one entity standing in the way of that just entitlement is the insurance company that is representing the person who injured you. Especially in a clear case of negligence, it’s more than likely that the defendant’s insurance company will contact you with a settlement offer before you even hire a lawyer to represent you. Part of their pitch may include, “Why pay a contingency fee to a lawyer when you can have the entire settlement for yourself?” They count on your lack of experience negotiating a settlement and vulnerability to accepting a large sum of money tossed your way.
More than that, there’s a big reason that insurance companies do not want you to hire an attorney to represent you in your personal injury claim. That is because it will cost them more to settle a claim. According to an Insurance Research Council study, people who hire a personal injury lawyer will receive far more compensation than those who go it alone, up to three times more paid, according to an Insurance Research Council study, including after paying fees to your attorney. Research conducted by the IRC found that injured parties represented by attorneys receive 3.5 times more money in settlements than those who represent themselves. In short, in your own best interest, let an experienced personal injury lawyer deal with the insurance company.
Why Choose an Experienced Attorney for Your Personal Injury Claim
Ultimately, every personal injury claim’s value depends on a unique set of circumstances. Every case is handled individually, but all cases are governed by the knowledge of processes and procedures within the framework of the law. The greater your knowledge of the law, the greater advantage, and the likelihood of a favorable outcome for you to receive just compensation. If you are injured due to someone else’s negligence, rather than go it alone to receive the compensation you deserve, look no further than speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer at the law offices that you can trust—Hardy Wolf & Downing.