People often consider speaking to a lawyer after suffering a personal injury because they know little to nothing about the legal process. The insurance company, however, doesn’t want you to know about your legal rights and does not want you to receive full compensation for your injuries. Insurance adjusters might assure you there is no need for a lawyer, as they have your best interests in mind. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Insurance companies prioritize their profits and shareholders instead of claimants. They often pay much less to injured accident victims without a lawyer. They do not want you to hire legal representation, which is exactly why you should do so.
Having a trusted personal injury attorney handling your claim from the beginning is beneficial in many ways. Never try to start the process alone, as you can say or do something to jeopardize your compensation.
You have nothing to lose by consulting with an injury lawyer about possible representation, so never delay seeking a no-cost, no-obligation consultation as soon as possible after your injury.
You Need an Attorney in a Personal Injury Case, and You Need One Quickly
- You should hire an attorney whenever you have suffered a personal injury.
- You should hire an attorney early in the personal injury process before the insurance company can compromise your legal rights.
You can often get a better legal result when you get help from an experienced attorney. You have a greater chance of receiving compensation, and your check should be more substantial, even after paying for a lawyer.
You Can Often Receive More Money When You Hire a Lawyer for a Personal Injury Claim
You may never even know how much your claim was worth when you sign a settlement agreement without consulting a lawyer. You might only realize that you signed away your legal rights for too little when you run out of money soon after your settlement and are still coping with the effects of your accident.
When you have no legal representation, the insurance company breathes a sigh of relief because they know they might get away with underpaying you with no one to inform you.
Study after study shows that people who have hired personal injury lawyers get better net results in their cases than those who try to represent themselves. Your lawyer receives a percentage of your settlement as their fee, but even after paying them that amount, you will likely have significantly more money than if you choose to forgo legal representation.
There are many functions that a lawyer performs in your case. They know what to do once you hire them and will let you know the tasks you need to complete because neither the law nor the insurance company will give you any leeway when you are on your own.
- Identifies liability for your injuries
- Calculates your losses
- Investigates and gathers evidence
- Presents a strong claim
- Advises whether settlement offers are fair
- Applies the law to your situation
For example, a lawyer can identify all applicable deadlines for your case. The statute of limitations governs how much time you have to file a case under state law. You cannot seek financial compensation if you miss this deadline, and you are not exempt from the time limitation simply because you were not aware of it.
You need an attorney to identify the limit for when you can file a lawsuit in civil court. Otherwise, you risk losing your rights.
Not only can you lack knowledge in a personal injury case, but your injuries might limit your ability to handle your claim. Again, the law and legal process will not wait for you to recover. The insurance company can rush the process to minimize your settlement, and you may not have the physical capacity or possess the knowledge of the law to negotiate for more.
You need to hire a lawyer soon after your accident because so many things can happen in the early days, and you cannot afford to be without legal representation. The longer you go without a lawyer, the more unfortunate things can happen to you.
The insurance company’s strategy begins with adjusters trained to safeguard the insurance company’s interests, and they are far from your friend. Instead, you can think of the adjuster as the guard dog who protects the door of the insurance company’s finances. You want an attorney before you start receiving calls from insurance adjusters.
The Insurance Company Tries to Frustrate Your Goals at Every Turn
The adjuster might open your case right after the insurance company learns of your possible claim, and they have several tricks up their sleeve to make your life more difficult.
They know that your aim is twofold:
- You need to prove that someone else was responsible to get financial compensation
- You must get compensation to cover all of your damages in the case
With that in mind, the insurance adjuster can try to get you to make admissions against your interests. They can attempt to speak to you about the accident, ask you questions, and take anything you say out of context, using bits and pieces against you to make it look like the accident was your fault.
Even if the insurance company admits liability, they may try to argue that what you said indicates that you were partially to blame (meaning that the insurance company may try to reduce your financial recovery based on your percentage of fault).
The insurance adjuster may have other tricks to use. They can convince you that an offer is fair when the settlement is actually for pennies on the dollar. Then, you might sign away your legal rights without realizing what you did. All the while, the insurance company is fully aware of its actions.
Timing Is Crucial When Trying to Prove a Personal Injury Case
You also need to worry about proving your personal injury case. If too much time has passed without legal action, the case can grow cold. The best time to investigate and assemble evidence for your case is as soon as possible after the accident has happened. Then, there are leads for your attorney to pursue, and a lawyer is more likely to build the necessary proof.
If too much time passes, you might even have difficulty finding a lawyer to accept your case. Your lawyer works on a contingency basis, and they need to be confident they will receive payment for their time.
If you contact them too late after an accident, a lawyer might believe your case is a long shot, and they may not accept it. Never wait until the statute of limitations is looming to begin the search for your attorney.
If your lawyer can get to work quickly, they can gather the following evidence that can help your case:
- Testimony from people who saw the accident and can state with certainty what they saw
- Pictures from the scene of the accident shortly after it happened
- The police report from the accident (however, you cannot just rely on the police report because it will not help if your case goes to trial – you need the physical evidence that it references because the report is considered hearsay)
- Testimony from an accident reconstruction expert who uses engineers principles and training to give their opinion about the cause of your accident (even an expert will have a difficult time giving their own credible opinion if too much time has passed)
- Any security or video camera footage
Your Attorney Can Move to Lock Down Evidence
Also, consider that the responsible party may possess some of the evidence you need to prove your case, and you may need to obtain it in the discovery process of the lawsuit. If you wait too long, the responsible party may delete or fail to preserve the evidence.
After you hire a lawyer, one of the first things they will do is write letters to potentially responsible parties with evidence, directing them to preserve everything before potential litigation. Then, if they delete the evidence, the responsible party can face serious consequences, including adverse inferences and sanctions.
It Can Take Many Months to Resolve a Personal Injury Case
The legal process takes time from start to finish, and the personal injury process often seems like a lot of hurry up and wait. Fulfilling a claim or civil lawsuit can take over a year until you have your money. Sometimes, you may even be in the personal injury process for years.
The lengthy process means that you should start earlier rather than later. The insurance company will not act any quicker if you have waited longer to engage with them, and on the contrary, they may do what they can to run out the clock.
Never rush filing a claim, but never wait to hire a lawyer.
It will take any attorney some time to:
- Investigate the circumstances of your accident and build the evidence
- Estimate the value of your case after studying and reviewing your circumstances
- Prepare the claim or lawsuit complaint, making the most persuasive case possible to the insurance company or a jury
The sooner you at least contact a personal injury attorney, the quicker they can get started to lay the groundwork for your claim. While much depends on the insurance company, you also have some control over the timing.
Money Is Not a Concern in Getting Legal Help for Your Personal Injury Case
The one thing that should never impact the timing of when and whether you should hire an attorney is money. Some people think they cannot afford a lawyer because they need to cover costly legal fees upfront, which is an incorrect perception.
The backbone of the personal injury process is the contingency system. Personal injury lawyers receive fees differently than other types of attorneys. For example, if you were to hire a lawyer for a family law matter, they charge you by the hour and even ask you for a retainer in advance for the time they spend working on your case in the future.
You do not have any such worries in a personal injury case. The lawyer signs an agreement with you at the start of your case that states exactly when and how they will receive their payment – which is only from the proceeds of your case if and when you win. Thus, you do not need to write an actual check to a lawyer for their services at any point in your case.
If you hire a lawyer, you will pay them the same percentage of your recovery, and they will not get less just because you retained their services later.
Therefore, you have no incentive or benefit to wait to hire a lawyer. Whether you hire them the day after your accident or months later, you will pay them the same amount, so you may as well benefit from their experience and service sooner rather than later.
The Time to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney is Now
Personal injury lawyers prioritize the interests of injured accident victims. When you win compensation, the attorney receives legal fees, so your interests align. You cannot say the same thing for insurance companies, and you should never trust an adjuster when they advise you do not need legal representation.
Seek medical treatment and then seek legal help from an experienced injury lawyer near you.
Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties.
An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.