This might seem like a complicated question, especially if you’re dealing with an insurance company who assures you that legal representation is not necessary.
Even if you’ve suffered a “minor” injury, the aftermath of a car accident, slip & fall, or other personal injury claim can be overwhelming. In addition to the pain you’re in, you’re also faced with numerous doctor appointments, growing medical bills, and unending phone calls to and from insurance companies.
It’s likely a stressful and confusing situation, even under the best of circumstances. However, as a personal injury lawyer, I’ve found I can usually boil it down to seven factors.
If you meet one or more of these seven conditions, it would be wise of you to make an appointment with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
1. Someone caused your injury.
No matter how severe your injury is, if it was due entirely to your own carelessness, you will not likely have a case.
If you slip and fall at home because you forgot to clean up the milk you personally spilled earlier, that would not warrant a personal injury lawyer. However, a slip and fall at a local grocery store which was caused by an employee who failed to clean up spilled milk in the store is a different story.
If you are looking down at your phone while driving and you carelessly rear-end another driver who was lawfully driving, you would not likely have a viable personal injury case. However, if this situation were reversed and you were injured by the distracted driver, you would very likely have a viable personal injury case.
Now, it might not be that easy to determine who was at fault, but you may feel strongly it was not you. Another thing a personal injury attorney can help with is determining fault/liability.
For example, if an insurance company is denying your car accident claim, stating you were at-fault in the car accident that injured you, a personal injury lawyer is able collect evidence which may support your side of the story.
2. You have medical bills related to your injury.
Many people are under the impression that there is no need to hire a personal injury attorney unless they have been catastrophically injured. However, ANY injury resulting in medical treatment will produce medical bills, and as we know, medical bills are rarely insignificant.
Although it might be tempting to accept an insurance company’s settlement offer only days later, your injuries might require more significant treatment before you have fully recovered. A personal injury attorney can examine your losses (including medical bills) and ensure you are compensated fairly for your injury.
If it has been only a few days since the incident which caused your injuries, you will not likely be able to determine how high your future medical bills will be. The last thing you want to do is accept an offer from the insurance company which will not even pay all of your future/foreseeable medical bills.
3. You’re worried the evidence could disappear.
A successful personal injury claim requires proof that someone else was responsible for your injuries.
Perhaps another driver fell asleep at the wheel and rear-ended you at a stoplight, or maybe a retail employee neglected to put out a “Wet Floor” sign after mopping and there was no way for you to know the ground was as slick as ice. Maybe a drunk driver ran a stop sign and hit you during your morning jog.
In any of these examples, having the right evidence can make or break your case. But not all evidence lasts forever.
A personal injury attorney is experienced in knowing what evidence to collect and where to collect it from before it’s too late.
4. The insurance company is being difficult.
If the insurance company is threatening you, ignoring your calls, offering an insignificant settlement amount, or simply not being nice, that’s a good indication that you should contact a personal injury attorney.
Lawyers have dealt with situations like this before and will be able to get the other party to cooperate. They’re also know your rights are and will fight for you at every step of the way.
Remember, the insurance company’s priority is to protect their bottom line, not yours! Having a lawyer to represent your interests will be invaluable in winning your case.
5. You’re worried that you will be shortchanged.
Between your medical bills and possible lost wages, car accidents and other injuries can be expensive.
You may also have concerns about your future: Will you be able to continue working at your current job? Will you need surgery? What if the settlement offer runs out before you’re fully recovered?
Personal injury lawyers see cases similar to yours all the time, so they know the difference between a low-ball offer and a fair one. They can also tell if you are being overcharged for your medical care and negotiate it down for you.
Without a lawyer, it’s easy for an insurance company to take advantage of your inexperience. Although you might think a settlement offer is fair, a personal injury attorney would know better.
Studies have shown that those who work with an attorney receive significantly higher settlement amounts than those who don’t. Furthermore, your personal injury attorney won’t charge you unless they win.
You have nothing to lose.
6. Your case has become more than you can handle.
Even a relatively straightforward personal injury claim involves a lot of moving parts. From proving liability to playing phone tag, it’s no wonder most people accept the first settlement offer just to put the whole experience behind them.
There’s no need to throw in the towel! With an experienced personal injury lawyer, you’ll have someone on your side, doing the heavy lifting and representing your best interests along the way.
If you’re up against an insurance company or a large corporation, they will certainly have their own legal representation. Hiring a personal injury attorney levels the playing field so that you get an advocate as well.
7. You aren’t sure if you need an attorney.
Chances are, if you’re asking yourself, “Do I need a personal injury lawyer?” the answer is “yes.”
Personal injury cases are rarely as straightforward as they may seem. Having a qualified attorney on your side is a proactive move that can help grease the wheels on your case.
At Sunshine State Law Firm, all consultations are free, so you don’t have anything to lose. One of our attorneys can go over the details of your case and let you know if you need an attorney or not.
Remember, we don’t get paid unless you do, and your best interests are always our top priority.