You’ve just been injured in a car accident, and the insurance company has made an offer to settle your claim. You are tempted to do just that, but you’re wondering if the amount they’re offering is really going to be enough to pay all your accident-related bills. You’re thinking about hiring an accident attorney, but you don’t know if you really need one.
Here are 5 reasons why hiring an attorney to represent you in a personal injury claim could be exactly the right move to make:
1 – You Won’t Save Any Money if You Don’t (But it Could Cost You)
Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that they won’t take a fee until your case settles. This type of arrangement allows injured people to obtain legal representation without having to pay an upfront retainer. Personal injury lawyers also typically offer free initial consultations, and advance funds for medical experts and the costs of litigation since most injured clients can’t afford to pay for things like obtaining a report from a medical expert, but without such a document they could have a hard time obtaining a fair settlement. But before you hire anyone, be sure you understand their fee structure.
2 – An Attorney Will Deal With Insurance Companies So You Don’t Have To
Once you hire an accident attorney to handle your claim, he will communicate with insurance companies on your behalf. This will not only reduce your anxiety and stress, but will also allow you to get all the information you will need to build your case, such as:
- Whether liability for the accident has been determined.
- The liability limits of the at-fault party’s insurance coverage.
- Specifics about your own insurance, including whether you have medical payments and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Non-lawyers usually don’t know how to obtain this type of information, but accident attorneys work with insurance companies every day.
3 – Lawyers are Skilled Negotiators
Insurance adjusters routinely offer unrepresented claimants low settlement offers in exchange for a full release early in the claims process, knowing that that they may accept a nominal amount because of financial pressures. An attorney can protect you from this vulnerability, and will likely be able to negotiate a much better award for you once the full extent of your injuries is known. An experienced injury attorney has much more negotiating power than a claimant does, simply because the attorney has the power to file a lawsuit in court, requiring the adverse insurance carrier to spend time and money defending it. If an insurance company doesn’t treat you fairly or refuses investigate your claim, an attorney can also initiate a bad faith claim, something an unrepresented client rarely does.
4 – You Don’t Know the Law As Well As You Think You Do
We’ve all watched our share of legal dramas on television, but there are many rules, regulations, and processes involved in accident cases. Unless you’ve been to law school, learning all of this would be very time consuming for you, but if you don’t take the time to learn the rules, you run the risk of doing major damage to your case.
So if you decide to represent yourself, be prepared for a lot of work. It takes attorneys three years to get through law school, plus all the knowledge they gain on the job. Do you really think you can understand the concept of personal injury law more quickly than that, if at all?
5 – Without a Lawyer, You’re Playing the Insurance Company’s Game
If your accident was minor and you didn’t sustain any injuries, you may not need a lawyer, but if you were injured and still decide not to retain an attorney, you’re doing exactly what the insurance company wants you to do – allowing them to pay you far less than your claim is actually worth. An experienced personal injury attorney will review your claim, understand what it’s worth, and make sure the insurance company treats you fairly.
If you were injured in an accident due to another person’s negligence, contact DDB Law online or call 888-648-5999 to schedule your free initial consultation today.
According to a recent article published in U.S. News and World Report, car accidents are the number one cause of death among teens, and this problem gets worse during the summer. Luckily, if you are a parent of a teen, there are a variety of things you can do to help your teen drive safer and reduce the chances of your child being involved in a car accident, which could result in personal injury or even death.
First, model the behaviors you expect. This means turning off your cellphone, silencing it, or putting it out of reach while you are driving. If your teen sees you using a phone while driving, even if you have told your teen not to use his or her phone while driving, you have shown that driving while using a cellphone is acceptable behavior.
Another behavior you should model is seatbelt use. Teens are the least likely to use their seatbelt even though seatbelt are known to reduce the risk of crash-related injuries and deaths by roughly half. You may not be in the vehicle every time your teen drives, but you can demonstrate the importance of a seatbelt when you are in the vehicle.
Second, establish rules for your teen’s driving. Many parents establish rules about radio usage or the number of passengers the teen can have while driving. Not only is it important to establish these rules, but also it is important to tell your teen why these rules are important. Let your teen know that as he or she becomes a more experienced driver and as responsible driving skills have been demonstrated, the rules will become less strict.
Finally, consider signing The New Driver Deal with your teen. This contract or agreement puts forth expectations for your teen’s driving and helps the teen to see when greater driving responsibility will be awarded. It also makes parents responsible for helping their teen become better drivers. If teens and parents know the rules and respect the rules, the likelihood of a car accident can be reduced.
Florida personal injury law is a specialty, because Florida is one of the few states in the U.S. with a no-fault insurance provision. This means that Florida drivers must carry no less than $10,000 worth of Property Damage Liability, or PDL (covers victim’s car if policy owner at fault), no less than $10,000 worth of Personal Injury Protection, or PIP (covers policy owner no matter who is at fault), but do not have to purchase any Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) insurance, which would take care of the medical and funeral bills of policy owner and passengers who were injured/killed in a serious accident caused by the policy owner.
Florida allows drivers to forgo bodily injury liability to keep insurance rates low, in fact Florida has some of the lowest car insurance minimums in the United States. The idea behind Florida’s no-fault insurance is to reduce the number of costly lawsuits (or torts) since that there is less chance of being sued by another driver following a car accident, because there is no need to prove fault.
However, those who’ve received injuries in serious car/truck accidents definitely have recourse in Florida courts. The American Bar Association’s website describes the chain of events which occur whenever an accident-injured party (the plaintiff) files a lawsuit because he/she has secured an expert attorney and has decided not to accept the monetary settlement offered by an insurance company (defendant).
First of all, the lawyers for each side exchange information about the crash and about the nature and extent of the victim’s bodily/mental injuries. This exchange is called discovery, and often consists of the defendant’s/plaintiff’s responding to written questions known as interrogatories, and of both parties giving depositions, or sworn statements (under oath).
At any point in this lawsuit process–even right before the jury reaches a verdict–the plaintiff may decide, with the guidance of his/her attorneys, to settle the case, accept the damages monies the insurance company offers, and sign a release, which absolves the company from further liability.
In civil–not criminal–lawsuits such as those for personal injury, a court does not give defendants (i.e, insurance companies) jail time or fines. Plaintiffs who win their cases, however, will be granted restitution, or damages, for their injuries. These damages often cover plaintiffs’ medical bills, wages lost during time spent recovering, and/or future wages, if the injuries have been very disfiguring or disabling. Compensation can also be granted for physical pain and suffering.
Each state has a particular statute of limitations during which an injured person must file his/her lawsuit in order for a court to consider it. Quickly securing the services of an attorney following a severe accident is very important, especially since Florida’s no-fault provisions make handling such cases difficult to navigate on your own.