If you’ve been involved in a car accident, been injured on the job, or suffered an injury after a fall, you may be wondering if you need to hire a personal injury lawyer for your case. If your injuries are minor or your case is small, you might be tempted to handle them independently.
But the factors of your case could be more complicated than they first appear. Hiring a personal injury lawyer helps protect your rights and ensures you’re receiving the financial and medical assistance you need after an injury, no matter the size of your case.
Managing Your Case Without a Personal Injury Lawyer
There are some situations where you can handle a claim by yourself. This saves you money in legal fees, but you run the risk of filing your claim incorrectly or making errors during the process. Ensure you understand what you’re responsible for and feel confident you can handle the claims process on your own before deciding to forego legal help.
California is a no-fault state for auto insurance
No-fault car insurance laws prevent you from filing a claim if your injuries are below the serious injury threshold. There is no national standard for what a serious injury is defined as, but you must meet specific criteria in California.
This includes needing hospitalization, suffering permanent disfigurement, or losing a part of your body through amputation. If you haven’t suffered a serious injury, you’re unable to file a claim against an insurance company, and you may not need to hire a lawyer.
Accident with no or minor injuries
Claims for low-speed car accidents that cause no injuries or minor injuries may be managed without a lawyer. Costs from auto repairs and medical bills due to these types of accidents will be low and entirely covered by insurance policies.
You may not have a reason to get legal help if you can handle filing claims against your auto insurance and the other driver’s insurance policies on your own. Especially if the compensation is enough to cover your expenses.
Negotiate with your claim adjuster
An insurance adjuster handles the personal injury claim you submit to your insurance company. The adjuster investigates what happened to determine the facts of the case and what your claim is worth. They’ll present an offer to you based on your current and expected medical expenses, lost wages, and your pain and suffering.
Your offer is also based on the limitations of your policy. They won’t offer you more than your maximum coverage allows. Since the adjuster works for the insurance company, they have an interest in keeping payouts as low as possible. If you know your claim is well below your policy limits and aren’t afraid to negotiate with your adjuster to reach a settlement offer, you can consider handling the case on your own.
Understanding the law and settlement process
Before deciding you don’t need legal help, make sure you have a deep understanding of how the settlement process works in your state. You’ll also need to know how your state handles fault, liability, and negligence laws and how they may affect the outcome of your case.
For your case, you need to be familiar with the types of compensation you can receive and what counts as economic and non-economic damages. If you don’t already have knowledge about these subjects, it can take a lot of time and research to learn the information you’ll need for your case. Unless you have the time to educate yourself or have a legal background, it may be wise to hire an attorney instead.
Personal injury protection coverage
You may not need to hire an attorney if your insurance covers your medical expenses. Personal injury protection (PIP) insurance, also called MedPay in some states, offers additional coverage that is attached to your auto insurance policy.
It covers all your medical and injury-related expenses from accidents, regardless of who is at fault. California does not require that drivers get personal PIP insurance as part of their insurance coverage. If you have separate PIP coverage that covers your expenses, and you won’t need to file additional claims or sue another party, you may not need the help of an attorney.
You’re Already Receiving the Maximum Amount Available
Insurance companies can’t offer you more than what a policy is limited to. If the settlement from the other party’s insurance company is the maximum amount they can payout under the terms of the policy, you may not need a lawyer to fight for a higher settlement for you.
Depending on your policy, you may receive compensation from your insurance company under auto liability coverage, comprehensive or collision coverage, or your home insurance policy. For example, California mandates that drivers carry a minimum of $15,000 per person for bodily injury liability insurance and a minimum of $30,000 per accident.
If you are looking for additional compensation, you will need to hire an attorney to collect damages from the defendant if they have any assets available. A personal injury lawyer may also get more out of the insurance policy than advertised.
When to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer for Your Case
There are several instances where you should hire a lawyer to handle your personal injury case. If you’re inexperienced with filing claims, are feeling overwhelmed by the legal process, or aren’t interested in negotiating with insurance companies, an attorney can help.
On average, you receive 3x more in compensation
An Insurance Research Council study shows that, on average, you’ll receive a 3.5 times higher settlement if you’re working with a lawyer. Insurance companies know you mean business when you have legal representation attached to your case. They may offer you a higher payout or be more willing to negotiate.
Lawyers also know the types of compensation you’re entitled to. They understand the claim and legal processes and won’t miss deadlines or make mistakes in your paperwork, potentially costing you compensation.
Our proven record of success
At Shirvanian Law Firm, we hit Liberty Mutual at over 140 times their initial settlement offer. The lawyer previously handling the case recommended settling for their offer of $3,000 in a disputed liability case involving a shoulder surgery.
We got our client $425,000 in compensation after two years of litigation and countless hours working on the case. Our team can get you the payout you deserve.
Serious catastrophic injuries
People with serious or catastrophic injuries need to hire a personal injury attorney for their case. You have a legal right to seek damages for your injuries and the financial harm you suffered. Hiring an attorney may help the insurance companies take your claim more seriously and offer you a better settlement to begin with. A lawyer can ensure you’re getting all the damages you’re due from your type of injury, and they can negotiate to get you the maximum compensation available.
You may not feel pain or realize you’re injured immediately after your accident or slip and fall. Some injuries take time to present, and you don’t want to run the risk of accepting a settlement quickly only to find out you have a bigger problem. A lawyer can advise you on when to file your claims and accept offers so you can be compensated for the full cost of your injuries.
Pain and suffering
Damages for emotional distress, including pain and suffering, are often awarded to victims when cases go to court but may not be included in your settlement initially. A lawyer knows this and will fight to include these damages in the compensation you’re offered. You may be entitled to pain and suffering damages even if your injuries were minor.
Some people are reluctant to hire a lawyer due to the cost, especially if they already have mounting medical bills. Fortunately, almost all personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee, meaning they won’t be paid or charge any legal fees unless you settle your case or win in court. The contingency fee agreement allows your lawyer to collect payment from your settlement or winnings and is based on a percentage of your awarded amount.
Access to the best injury doctors/therapies
Personal injury lawyers do more than defend your legal rights. Their experience working with injured victims means they have working relationships with top medical providers and can help you find the care you need. While you’re recovering, your lawyer will take on your case. They’ll work with your doctors and therapists to document your injuries for your case to ensure top compensation.
Hiring Shirvanian Law
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident, hire an attorney to handle your case. They can help you get the medical and legal assistance you need. Call us first at Shirvanian Law when looking for a personal injury attorney in California. We like tough cases. We listen, we care, and we take your injury seriously.
Narbeh Shirvanian’s defense experience and litigation strategies are integral to bringing the negligent party to justice. We can fight on your behalf for the compensation you’re entitled to. Contact us today for a confidential, free consultation.