Can I File a Personal Injury Claim Without an Attorney?
Some personal injury cases are minor and can be settled directly through insurance. However many personal injury cases are not that straightforward. Insurance companies always have legal representation and will work diligently to minimize payouts to claimants. Here are some things to keep in mind when determining if you need an attorney to represent you.
Severity of Your Injuries
Many injuries sustained during a car accident are minor and individuals may not see the need for an attorney. It is important to speak with a medical professional about your injuries so that symptoms don't worsen over time. If you settle too quickly with an insurance company, and then later develop worsening symptoms, you might be unable to seek additional compensation. When injuries are more severe, the potential for significant compensation increases. In the event of severe injuries, it is typically best to consult with an attorney who can aggressively seek proper compensation on your behalf.
Insurance Company Accepts Liability
If the defendant's insurance company accepts fault for the accident, proceeding with a claim on your own might seem like a good idea. However, liability is only one side of the coin. Compensation for damages is the other. A lawyer can help ensure you receive the appropriate amount of compensation for the damages.
Injury Claims Can Be Time Consuming
Personal injury claims are often complex and time-consuming, which can overwhelm individuals who seek a claim without an attorney. Injury claims often involve:
- Filing the right paperwork at the right time;
- Gathering evidence from the police, any potential witnesses, and the scene of the accident;
- Negotiating with insurance companies;
- Obtaining medical records from all treating providers;
- Communicating with health insurance company regarding potential liens on recovery.
Cases Where an Attorney Is Needed
So when "should" you consult with a lawyer? Generally, it is advisable to consult a lawyer in cases involve complex legal issues and serious damages. They include:
- Serious Injuries - When a serious injury is sustained it can cause a significant financial burden due to medical expenses and lost wages. Hiring an attorney can lead to increased compensation so it's typically a good idea to consult with an attorney right away.
- Medical Malpractice - Medical malpractice claims can also be complex cases. You will need to prove the medical professional breached the duty of care which often involves medical experts on your side.
- Product Liability - Product liability cases can be difficult to prove and typically require expert witnesses on issues of liability and damages.
While it is possible to file a personal injury case without the help of an attorney, there is always the risk of being taken advantage of by insurance companies. Many types of personal injury can also be quite complex and legal procedure may present a significant challenge to someone who is not a lawyer. When in doubt, consulting with an attorney is recommended. Most attorneys will offer a free initial consultation to discuss your claim and work on a contingency basis, which protects you from undue financial exposure.