Can I Make a Personal Injury Claim Myself?

It is a terrible idea to file a personal injury claim if you suffer injuries in an accident due to another party’s negligence. If you need to file an injury claim, you must work with an attorney. Trying to file a personal injury claim on your own can leave you without the resources you need to pursue your claim effectively, and you may end up inadvertently lowering the compensation you can recover from your accident.

Can I Legally File a Personal Injury Claim on My Own?

Legally, you have the right to file a personal injury claim on your own without pursuing assistance from an attorney or other party. However, filing a claim on your own can cause complications, including making it more difficult for you to determine who may bear liability for the incident or what compensation you might deserve.

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When Should I Contact an Attorney to Handle My Personal Injury Claim?

Many people start by trying to handle a personal injury claim on their own, often because they assume that the liable party’s insurance company will issue a fair offer or that hiring an attorney may substantially reduce the compensation they ultimately get to recover for their injuries. If you have attempted to handle the claim on your own, you may find that some circumstances arise that indicate the need to contact an attorney as soon as possible.

1. The insurance company issues a settlement offer that does not reflect the actual damages you sustained because of the accident.

Serious accidents can mean substantial damages: high medical costs, lost time at work, and substantial pain and suffering that may make it difficult for you to enjoy life during your recovery. However, many insurance companies will not acknowledge the full extent of those losses when they issue an initial settlement offer. Instead, the insurance company may issue a low offer that reflects only a percentage of the compensation you really deserve for those injuries.

Instead of accepting a low offer or continuing to negotiate without knowing how much compensation you really deserve, bring in a lawyer to help you negotiate with the insurance company. A lawyer can help present the compensation you really deserve for severe injuries sustained in an accident and give you a better idea of how to negotiate with the insurance company.

2. The insurance company denies full liability for the accident.

Many personal injury claims involve multiple parties that could bear or share liability for the incident. As part of the investigation process, the insurance company will attempt to uncover who might bear liability for the accident, including how the insurance company can shift liability away from the party covered by that insurance company’s policies.

The insurance company may try to claim, for example, that you caused or contributed to the accident yourself or that a third party caused the accident. If the insurance company can establish that someone else, including you, caused the accident, it may reduce the compensation it pays out. However, that may also reduce the compensation you can recover.

If the insurance company disputes liability for the accident and declines to pay the compensation you deserve, a lawyer can give you a better idea of who might have caused the accident and the steps you need to take to prove it.

3. The insurance company argues the extent of your injuries, or when your injuries occurred.

Sometimes, the insurance company might accept liability for the accident but insist that you did not sustain the injuries you claim in the accident or that you do not need the treatment you claim. The insurance company may use a couple of different strategies. In some cases, the insurance company may claim that you never suffered those injuries and do not have the limitations you claim from the accident. In other cases, the insurance company may try to claim that you sustained your injuries at another time: that you had a preexisting condition that causes your symptoms, for example, or that you suffered injuries in another incident, outside the accident caused by the insured party.

By working with a lawyer, you can often better establish the full extent of your injuries, when they occurred, and the treatments you needed for those injuries more clearly, which can make it easier for you to obtain the full compensation you deserve.

How a Lawyer Can Help with Your Personal Injury Claim

If you have suffered any injury, from broken bones to traumatic brain injury, you may want to work with a lawyer as you pursue compensation for your injuries. Severe injuries can cause a lot of battles and challenges. Letting a lawyer handle the legal side of those challenges can prevent some of the struggles you might otherwise have faced.

1. A lawyer can help collect evidence related to your accident.

Before you can file a personal injury claim, you must know who caused your accident. Ideally, you want to know all parties that contributed to your accident, since you can file a claim against everyone that caused or contributed to your injuries.

A lawyer can help collect those vital details and give you a better idea of who you need to pursue compensation from after an accident. Not only that, a lawyer can gather that evidence that establishes liability for the accident, which can make it easier for you to make the insurance company pay out for those injuries.

Lawyers often have access to evidence that you may find it more difficult to access on your own. For example, a lawyer may have an easier time getting access to video footage or collecting statements from witnesses in a way that you can easily use as part of a personal injury claim. A lawyer may have access to records that you would find it difficult to open on your own, too: a truck driver’s records or the trucking company’s records after a truck accident, for example, or the records of a company that repeatedly failed to take care of a known hazard that seriously injured people.

2. A lawyer can help put together the evidence related to your claim, including evidence of your injuries, in a compelling argument.

A compelling claim can go a long way toward showing the insurance company exactly what compensation you deserve and why you deserve that compensation. In many cases, a lawyer may need to pull together information about your injuries, the treatments your injuries required, and the negligent actions committed by the liable party in a way that will clearly showcase why the liable party caused your injuries and exactly what damages you sustained.

Presenting that information on your own could leave you struggling to showcase your exact losses, especially if the insurance company wants to deny coverage. By working with a lawyer, on the other hand, you can clearly and concisely show what damages you sustained and what you expect from the insurance company.

3. A lawyer can help you get the full picture of the compensation you deserve.

Many people do not know how much compensation they should expect from a personal injury claim. Sometimes, the insurance company may try to convince you that the policy has specific limits that will prevent you from obtaining compensation for all the financial losses you suffered.

Other times, you may not even realize the full extent of your financial losses, especially if you have not calculated and kept track of your medical bills and other expenses as you managed your recovery.

On the other hand, a lawyer can help talk you through the financial losses you most likely experienced because of your injuries and the compensation you should expect. Then, a lawyer can take a look at the insurance policy that covers the liable party and let you know what it offers, how much compensation you should expect, and where you may run into trouble.

4. A lawyer can help with the negotiation process.

Negotiating with an insurance company can quickly feel like it has turned into a minefield. The insurance company can make the claim process extremely stressful and hard to secure the compensation you deserve. You may find yourself facing tactics and challenges that make each interaction with the insurance company more difficult.

For example, your lawyer may warn you that talking to the insurance adjuster about your physical health and recovery, even in what seems like small talk before you take on the more serious issues associated with your claim, could cause you to inadvertently limit the compensation you can recover for pain and suffering.

Chatting about your future activities and plans could also cause the insurance company to doubt the full extent of your injuries. Not only that, if you brush off the actions of the liable party at any point or accept even partial liability for the accident, including apologizing for any actions at the time of the accident, you could inadvertently accept partial liability for the accident.

By letting a lawyer deal with the insurance company on your behalf, you can often reduce the difficulty of those interactions and increase the odds that you will recover the full compensation you deserve, rather than mistakenly limiting the compensation the insurance company offers.

5. A lawyer can present your claim if you must go to court.

Most personal injury claims settle out of court, which helps the insurance company decrease overall costs associated with the claim. However, the insurance company will sometimes push to take the claim to court to resolve it. If you need to go to court, having an attorney on your side can be critical.

When you go to court over your claim, you will need to make a compelling argument that establishes both liability for the accident and the compensation you may deserve for any injuries you sustained. Lawyers have considerable experience putting together those arguments and can help ensure that your case gets seen in the best possible light.

The Cost of Hiring an Attorney

For many people, cost represents the most significant barrier to working with an attorney. You may have immense bills that you have to deal with, especially if you have sustained severe injuries that require extensive medical treatment, or you may have lost your income because of your accident. Personal injury attorneys understand how a serious injury can impact your finances, and in many cases, they will work with you to help you reduce the financial burden.

First, most personal injury lawyers will start with a free consultation. During the free consultation, you can get a better idea of what compensation you might deserve for your injuries, what steps you must take to protect yourself, and the actual cost of hiring an attorney. Most attorneys will also use the free consultation to decide whether or not they can help you recover more compensation than if you handled the claim on your own.

Next, many attorneys will accept personal injury clients on a contingent fee basis. Instead of having to pay for legal services as you receive them, you can pay your attorney based on a percentage of the compensation you ultimately win for your injuries.

If you suffered serious injuries in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, working with an attorney can make it easier to handle your claim and increase the odds that you will recover the compensation you deserve. Contact an attorney to learn more.

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