Personal Injury Claims
Not every claim which you are considering against another party requires an attorney. The facts and circumstances dictate when you need to involve the services of an attorney. For instance, if you are involved in an automobile accident which was not your fault and the other driver has an insurance policy with low limits which will not fully compensate you for your injuries, then you may be successful in handling the claim without an attorney.
After the accident, the insurance adjuster for the driver at fault will contact you to obtain information about your claim, including your property damage, medical bills, lost wages, and medical records. Cooperation in providing this information will usually result in some form of settlement offer in an attempt to avoid litigation.
However, be careful about what information, especially statements, made to the opposing side when liability or fault is contested. Frequently, the insurance adjuster is seeking to prove your fault or diminish the value of your claim. In such instances, you may want to retain an attorney early on in the process. Even when fault is clearly placed on the other driver, adjusters may attempt to “low ball” you with an offer that is not fair for the injuries and damages you have suffered.
Most lawyers do not mind giving free advice to clients regarding settlement offers which may have been extended in a potential case. If a fair offer has been tendered, you should accept it. Remember, getting an attorney involved will reduce your recovery by at least 33 1/3 %.
Another consideration regarding the decision to involve an attorney relates to the amount or availability of insurance coverage to pay your damages. If the person who has injured you (in a car accident or otherwise) has multiple types of insurance and policies, it is not always easy to discover that information. The person might have insurance with separate companies which the adjuster with whom you are negotiating is not aware.
An attorney can seek affidavits from the insurance company and its insured to protect you in the event other insurance is later discovered which will pay for your injuries. Attorneys also have resources to confirm the existence of certain types of insurance coverages.
If you suffer minimal injury or damages, it is frequently not worth getting an attorney involved. Do not go to an attorney with the hope or thought that he will make your damages higher by helping you get unnecessary medical treatment from “plaintiff friendly” doctors. These types of claims not only cost you more in the long run, but also slow down the judicial system.
This does not mean that you should not get thoroughly checked out by your physician following an accident. Sometimes injuries which at first seem minor, develop into serious life altering conditions. Do not assume that just because you are able to leave the site of any accident (automobile or other), that you are medically o.k. Get your own doctor to perform a thorough examination.
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