A lot of people try to pursue their personal injury case on their own. Technically, there is nothing to prevent you from attempting to negotiate with the insurance company without an attorney. In fact, it may be worthwhile for people who have smaller, whiplash-type injuries, and who have enough time to research the issues and do the legwork without an attorney.
However, we have had many people call our office because they became too frustrated dealing with the insurance company. You should hire an attorney if:
Disabling injuries change peoples' lives. Over the years, we have seen far too many people go from being healthy and productive breadwinners to wondering if they will be able to pay their mortgage or keep their cell phone turned on. It is doubly frustrating when an insurance company refuses to pay fair compensation to someone who will likely never be able to return to work. For people in that situation, there are four potential ways to get help.
Automobile insurance companies hold the upper hand when dealing with people on personal injury claims. The insurance company has better access to information, they have more experience, and they have all the money in the world so there is no pressure on them to pay a high settlement to someone who is not represented by a lawyer. If you are questioning whether the settlement offer the insurance company made you is unfair, you probably have good reason to wonder.
You’ve hired an attorney. You’ve gone over your legal theories and positions, and you are sure you are going to win your case. Then, your attorney suggests you participate in a settlement negotiation. “No way!” you think, I have a winning case, why would I want to talk to the other side? Here’s why: Settlement negotiations allow you to maintain control over the ultimate outcome of your case. Litigation is an all or nothing proposition: once you present your side of the story to a judge or jury, the result is out of your hands. At that point, the only option you have is to wait and see if the judge or jury believes as strongly as you do, that you have a good case.
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Imagine you were just in accident and you hurt your neck. You file an insurance claim thinking everything will go smoothly. After all, your neck did not hurt before your accident, but it sure does hurt now. If you are like most people, you assume the insurance company will instantly recognize that the other guy was at fault and make you a reasonable settlement offer. All too often, that does not happen.
If you ask Google, “How much is my personal injury case worth?”, you will get a long list of blog posts and personal injury calculators. If you ask a lawyer, “How much is my personal injury case worth?”, you will get a lawyer who tells you, “It depends.”
In September of 2014, the Annenberg Public Policy Center reported that only 36% of Americans could name all three branches of the United States’ government. (Spoiler alert: they are Executive, Legislative, and Judicial.) The Executive branch (currently led by President Donald J. Trump) and the Legislative branch (also known as Congress) get plenty of attention in the media. The Judicial branch (the courts) is also an important part of our government, but people know less about it than they do the other branches.