Since many people ask us “Should I handle my own injury case or should I consult an attorney?” We have made the following observations to assist you in your decision:
If you’ve been hurt because of someone else’s fault you may deserve to be compensated. Your medical bills should be paid. You should also receive reasonable compensation for your pain, suffering, inconvenience, loss of income, and for any damage to your property. If you have been injured at work, regardless of anyone’s fault, you may also deserve compensation.
Our compensation system is an adversary system. The insurance company will use a skilled, trained insurance adjuster whose job is to pay you the least for your injuries. Your job (or your attorney’s) is to get you the most compensation. When both sides do their best, justice wins and you will be compensated adequately.
It is always best to promptly contact a lawyer to learn of the rules and procedures of injury cases. At some point early in your case, the insurance company in both auto accidents and on-the-job injury claims may request you to go to a doctor of their choosing to be examined. After the evaluation by the insurance company physician, the insurance company may order you to stop medical care and eventually decline to pay your medical bills. The insurance adjuster may also contact you frequently to try to negotiate an early settlement. Adjusters are highly competent in negotiating settlements on behalf of the insurance company. If you decide to consult with an attorney, talk to one who is familiar with injury claims rather then one who rarely handles such cases.
The insurance adjuster works for the benefit of the insurance company and is not impartial. You should protect your own interests. Be particularly careful not to sign just anything. Read any document that you are asked to sign very carefully. And if you are approached and asked to sign a settlement agreement that is a strong signal that it is time to consult with an attorney. Do not give a tape recorded statement before you contact a competent attorney and are at least advised of your rights. There are times when you need to give a statement to an insurance company (especially your own) and times when you don’t have to.
By contacting or hiring an attorney, you would not necessarily be filing a lawsuit against anyone. However, you will be advised of your rights in personal injury, negligence, job injury and many other types of cases. If you mishandle your own case due to lack of knowledge or lack of skill, even a competent lawyer may not be able to undo the mistakes that you have made and may not be able to accept your case at that time. The most important time to be informed of your rights and responsibilities at the very beginning of your case. An attorney will not discourage you from seeing any doctor you determine is the best for your best recovery. Many times, an attorney can even assist you in finding a doctor that will treat you for your injuries and be willing to wait until the settlement of your case to be paid for the medical bills.
If you decide to hire an attorney, most attorneys work on a contingent fee basis and will receive a percentage of the final settlement. If the attorney collects nothing, you don’t have to pay anything.