You never know when you’ll sustain a personal injury. You may be driving on the right side of the road and then, suddenly, another driver rams you from behind. You may also be walking on the sidewalk minding your own business when, out of the blue, you are hit by a speeding cyclist. When you suffer an injury due to the mistake of another person, should you contact a Boston personal injury law firm or let the case slide?
Well, all personal injury cases are not the same. Ultimately, the decision on whether to hire an attorney lies on you. However, if you have sustained serious injuries and are considering filing a claim with the insurance company or taking the party at fault to court, working with an attorney is highly recommended.
Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Attorney?
Not all injuries warrant you to hire a lawyer. After an accident, you will need to answer a number of questions to determine whether it would make sense to hire an attorney. Here are some questions to think about:
How Serious Are Your Injuries?
The extent of your injuries should guide you on whether to hire an attorney. If you have sustained some light scratches and have the time to follow up on the insurance claims, you can settle the matter on your own. Sometimes, you may even solve the matter with the other party without involving the insurance company. However, this is rarely the case.
If you suffered serious injuries such that you had to seek medical attention, it is advisable to hire an attorney to help you file a claim. This is especially if the pain lasts longer than a few days. On the same note, if your treatment involved hospitalization, rehabilitation, orthopedics, cosmetic surgery, chiropractic work, physical therapy, or surgery, you’ll want the case to be evaluated by a personal injury lawyer.
Depending on the extent of your injuries and the monetary losses you incurred, the attorney will come up with reasonable compensation to demand from the party responsible. The lawyer will look at things such as the cost of your medical treatment, lost wages, and any disability resulting from the accident to come up with a fair claim for damages.
Was the Injury Caused by Someone Else?
After an accident, most people do not like taking full responsibility for their actions. On the same note, your insurance company may not be willing to offer you fair compensation. You can file a claim on your own only for the company to dismiss it. Sometimes, the insurance adjuster may propose a ridiculously low amount as payment for your injuries. To avoid these scenarios, it would be prudent to hire an attorney to handle the claim on your behalf.
When you are involved in an accident, Boston law enforcers may be the first authority at the scene. From their investigations, the officers will file a report of what they saw and what they think was the cause of the accident. Unfortunately, sometimes the police officers may think that you caused the accident, even if you were the victim. The other party may also blame you for the accident. In such cases, you will need help from an experienced lawyer.
A personal injury attorney will carry out independent investigations to establish the cause of the accident. If the attorney arrives at the scene of the accident, he/she may take photographs of the scene, write down statements from witnesses, and compare the findings to what the law enforcers have. The attorney will also advise you on what to do to avoid incriminating yourself for the accident.
Has the Insurance Company Representative Contacted You?
Immediately after an accident, the insurance company may send its representative to contact you for a settlement. You may be tempted to accept the settlement right away, especially if you have large medical bills to clear. However, don’t be so fast to settle. In fact, you should not settle before consulting a lawyer.
Most people don’t know their legal rights and how much they can be awarded in court for a personal injury. Insurance companies like to take advantage of this. Some companies will also make it seem like they are doing you a favor by settling. Don’t fall for their gimmicks.
Hire an attorney to negotiate a settlement with the lawyers of the insurance company. You are more likely to be offered substantial settlement when you have an attorney negotiating on your behalf.
Is the Insurance Company Disputing the Liability of its Insured Client?
Sometimes, it may be obvious that the accident was caused due to the negligence of the other party. However, the insurance company may still try to dispute liability. This is usually done to make you think that your claim is far less than it is or that it’s not valid.
When liability is being disputed, you should get a lawyer involved. The attorney can carry out investigations to prove that the insurance company is liable for settling your claim. If the company still refuses to settle, the attorney can advise you to take the matter to trial.
Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means that you will not incur huge fees upfront during the case. Instead, the lawyer will charge you a percentage of the settlement that you will be awarded if you win. With this arrangement, the attorney will be more incentivized to build a strong case and help you win.
Are You Comfortable with the Law and Settlement Process?
If you decide to handle the personal injury case on your own, you’ll need to be comfortable with the law. You should understand the legal ramifications of your claim as well as the settlement process. Getting a reasonable settlement takes savvy negotiation skills and a strong knowledge of both the case and statutory laws.
Some personal injury cases can be quite complex and may require the testimony of expert witnesses to uncover evidence that will be beneficial for your claim. Can you get ahold of these witnesses? Handling car accident cases may require a solid understanding of physics, accident reconstruction, and witness interviews. You should also understand your medical records so that you can know how much to claim.
Having an experienced personal injury lawyer to work on your claim will go a long way in helping you get a settlement. The attorney can handle all the legwork of filing your claim, getting witness statements, finding expert witnesses, and gathering evidence that will be crucial for your trial. With an attorney working on your case, you can rest easy knowing that a professional that has your best interest at heart is fighting for your rights.
Eric J. Parker, the Managing Partner of Parker Scheer LLP, has over 30 years’ experience representing victims in complex personal injury cases. He is active in many legal associations and has won many awards for performance and principles. Eric believes in giving back to the community and supports young scholars and law students by acting as faculty and mentor to them.