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