I received a phone call recently from a lady who had just been in a car accident, letâ€™s call her Ms. Smith. Clearly there were more questions than answers on her end about the entire process and the steps that needed to be taken. As I discussed the situation further, it seemed likely that she was not interested in hiring an attorney, but she instead wanted some advice on how to pursue a claim. Finally, the conversation turned a corner. Ms. Smith turned the tables and asked â€œalright Mr. Posner, you have given me all of the information I think I need, so why should I hire you?â€ This is not the first time I have been asked this question, nor will it be the last. Therefore, I have penned a list of the top reasons why a victim of personal injury should retain an attorney.
1. Deadline to File a Lawsuit
If you’ve been injured in an accident, there are often time limitations on your right to file a lawsuit. These limitations are called statute of limitations and notice requirements, and vary from state to state Notice requirements are especially technical, and must be sent to specific people or governmental entities, and must contain very specific information. Some notice requirements, for example, must be fulfilled within 120 days of an accident. Hiring a competent attorney that you trust is the first step to making sure that all notices and filings have been properly and timely filed. Otherwise, you could forever lose the right to pursue your claim.
2. Important Steps Immediately After an Accident
After a car accident, it is the often the reaction of a victim to go home and wait before anything is done with the case. In reality however, an immediate investigation as to the cause of the accident may be the difference between a successful claim and a failed claim. By hiring a competent attorney, you will get witness statements, preserve evidence, and be organized from the start to preserve all claims that you can make.
3. Dealing with Insurance Companies
When a person gets injured in an accident, it is highly likely that insurance companies, both yours and the negligent driverâ€™s, will begin to immediately ask questions. One must remember that the main goal of any insurance company is to save money. Therefore, they want to settle your case for the lowest amount possible, if anything. Dealing with insurance companies brings pressure that most people are not accustomed to, especially after a traumatic accident. Hiring an attorney takes that burden off of the client. A seasoned attorney knows what questions will be asked and how to answer them. Donâ€™t let inexperience adversely affect your ability to get resolution of a claim.
4. Dealing with PIP Issues (Personal Injury Protection)
After an accident, an injured party likely has immediate needs. This may include lost wages, medical bills, rehabilitation costs, or even funeral costs. Retaining counsel and allowing them to deal with the paperwork and organization of the PIP process allows the client to concentrate on his own recovery, as opposed to forms and filings.
5. Donâ€™t Let the Insurance Companies Give Lowball Offers
A primary reason for insurance companies contacting the injured party immediately is in an effort to procure a small, and oftentimes, undervalued settlement. In order to obtain a truly fair settlement, you must take into account all injuries suffered, property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. This is not always apparent immediately or soon after an accident. Hiring legal counsel allows for an experienced attorney to take everything into account, including their own expertise and experience in dealing with the different insurance companies, and determine that appropriate amount that you deserve. Most importantly, a seasoned attorney can properly advise you as to the legal value of your claim. The insurance companies will try to lowball youâ€”not because they are bad people, but because they are trying to protect the interests of their shareholders. You should have someone to protect your interests. If the insurance company is still trying to get away from what is proper, an experienced attorney will know to file suit and take them to court. A good and well-prepared attorney will plan to go to trial whether they believe the case will settle or not.
6. Your Main Concern Should Be Your Health
The most important thing after a personal injury accident is your recovery. Without a representative on your behalf, in injured party must deal with the insurance companies, scheduling appointments, pay bills, deal with missing work, and deal with pain and suffering all at the same time. Hiring an attorney takes most of that burden away. A legal representative can deal with the insurance companies, your PIP coverage, assist in recovering for missed time at work, and assist in handling your case in general. Once an attorney is hired, the burden is taken off of the clientâ€™s back and put squarely on the attorneyâ€™s shoulders, allowing the client to concentrate on physically improving.
7. Maximize Your Recovery
An accident, whether automobile or other personal injury, can have a profound effect on a victims life. Missed time at work, medical bills, inability to perform necessary duties, and pain and suffering are just a few of the burdens placed on a victim who has been injured due to the negligence of another. Hiring an attorney will put you in the best position possible to recover for all of your injuries and losses. Donâ€™t allow yourself to be cheated out of what is owed to you. Maximize your case to the best of your ability. Hiring legal counsel can put you in the best position to do so.
8. Deal with Paperwork
Not only will your attorney take care of your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) claim, but he will order the police report, obtain all medical records and bills, stave off the bill collectors, deal with insurance companies, and make sure that you donâ€™t miss any bills.
9. Maximize your Settlement by Reducing your Expenses
Many people donâ€™t realize that some services are negotiable. Attorneys are experts at reducing your existing expenses, such as medical bills and medical liens. A small reduction in the amount charged by your health care providers can make a big difference in your bottom line.
10. Best Chance for a Positive Outcome
Although no attorney can guarantee an outcome, hiring a diligent legal representative will put you in the best likely scenario to recover. Using knowledge of local laws and ordinances, information on insurance companies and experience dealing with similar situations, an attorney can best put you in a position to maximize your chances for recovery in your personal injury matter.