How a lawyer can help ...
Do you need a personal injury lawyer? If the money or damage is minor (less than the insurance deductible or less than the small claims limit for your state), you can probably handle it yourself. But if the stakes are high or the consequences more immediate, don’t go it alone. Do the math: weigh the value of your claim acting alone with the cost of representation by a personal injury attorney on contingency.
A personal injury lawyer can help…
- Assess your legal situation. An experienced personal injury attorney will help you understand the legal issues involved in your specific personal injury claim. Is the injury serious? Is it a permanent or temporary injury? Who was at fault? Was there an uninsured or underinsured motorist involved? Is there any third party responsibility? Do you have pain and suffering? Should you try to negotiate with the insurer yourself? Do you have to accept his settlement offer? Do you know what your case is worth (the insurance company does and won’t tell you)? A good lawyer will tell you whether it makes sense to sue in small claims court, to sue for a larger amount in state court or to settle out of court.
- Obtain additional evidence, information and reports. A good personal injury attorney will know what kinds of evidence to look for (i.e., medical and vocational evidence, police reports, etc.) and will investigate and interview potential witnesses for statements.
- Provide legal coaching. If representing yourself works better for you, consider using an attorney as a legal coach to help you (1) understand the personal injury law that applies to your case; (2) find the evidence that best supports your case; (3) understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of your claim; (4) understand the litigation process and customs unique to your local courts; (5) draft or review paperwork; (6) identify opportunities for a settlement to your personal injury claim; or (7) represent you if at some point you feel you can no longer go it alone.
- Negotiate. If there is an unresolved dispute, there will be negotiations with a claim adjuster who is a professional negotiator. You’d be wise to hire an attorney to negotiate on your behalf and to protect your interests.
- Make a phone call or draft a lawyer’s letter. Your attorney can handle all communications with the other party, including phone calls. This reduces your exposure to the risks and unpleasantness of dealing with the other party on your own. Similarly, good lawyers often extend each other professional courtesies and may be able to obtain with a phone call what would otherwise take a battle. A letter from your lawyer helps to establish your claim and puts the other party on notice that you are taking the matter seriously and are represented by a professional.
- Represent you in court. An experienced lawyer can help you file a personal injury lawsuit against the party with whom you have a dispute. If your opponent has a lawyer, then by all means, you need to get one too