Anytime you’re involved in an accident, you should proceed as though you will have to seek damages. This consists of completing a police report, taking photographs to document the incident, and talking to witnesses. This information can all be used to file a claim for damages with an insurance company, but you may not need to hire a lawyer for this process. The following guide will help you determine if you should consult an attorney.
How Much is Your Claim Worth?
While an experienced Lakeland personal injury lawyer is best suited to provide a more accurate assessment of your case, you can estimate the general size of your claim. If you were involved in a small fender bender and weren’t injured, your damages will likely be under $1,000. The insurance company will offer a quick settlement that will help you pay for repairs in that situation. However, if it was a more serious accident and you sustained broken bones and other serious injuries, your claim will be worth much more. If the insurance company can get you to sign off on an early settlement, they can avoid having to pay for your long-term care needs. In that case, hiring a lawyer will ensure you get a fairer settlement.
How Severe are Your Injuries?
When it comes to evaluating your injuries, an attorney with personal injury experience will be familiar with most types of injuries. They will consult with your doctors to determine precisely what will be involved in your recovery and what treatments will be necessary to restore your former quality of life. These considerations are essential in determining the value of your injuries in regards to filing a claim. If you suffered emotional health problems, such as PTSD, as a result of the accident, a lawyer would know how to prove this aspect of your damages as well. The lawyer’s goal is to ensure you get the compensation you need to cover your recovery’s full cost.
Can You Negotiate on Your Behalf?
Unless you work in insurance or the legal field, it’s very unlikely that you have the knowledge and experience you need to negotiate for a fair settlement. Insurance companies count on injury victims to negotiate on their own because they know most people don’t understand what damages they are entitled to seek. This allows them to offer a lower settlement than they would typically have to pay. However, those who hire an attorney end up with more considerable payments because injury lawyers are skilled in negotiating with insurance companies. They know how laws, medical care, automotive repair, and other factors will influence the damages that their clients can seek.
What Will You Do if Negotiations Fail?
While injury claims are usually negotiated before legal action is necessary, that’s not always the case. In some situations, the insurance company won’t meet your needs for damages, hoping your lawyer will come down far enough to make it worthwhile for them. This often means you won’t get enough money to pay for the damages you suffered. Rather than accept an inadequate settlement offer, your lawyer will be prepared to file a lawsuit in civil court. If you have already hired a lawyer, they will be ready to file your initial complaint with the court.
Is There a Question of Fault?
The investigator working for the insurance company will likely try to shift some of the accident’s faults to you. If they can do this, they can reduce the maximum amount you can claim for damages. For example, if they find that you’re 20% to blame for an accident and you’re claiming $100,000 in damages, the most you can recover is $80,000. However, when you hire a lawyer, they will have their investigators look into the accident to prove that you weren’t at fault. This can significantly improve the outcome of your claim.
If you determine that consulting a personal injury attorney is in your best interests, don’t delay. There is a statute of limitations on how long you have to file an injury claim, so it’s crucial to get the process moving as quickly as possible. Additionally, your first consultation will be free of charge, so it will cost you nothing to obtain a professional evaluation of your case.