Could you handle your personal injury claim alone? It’s certainly possible. There have been cases in Florida in which hiring an attorney is not a necessity, and this is especially true for cases involving very minor injuries or minimal property damage. A personal injury attorney may not be needed if you can gather enough evidence to support your claim and negotiate with the insurance adjuster yourself. However, if it’s a complicated case, you will almost certainly want a lawyer by your side. The personal injury lawyers at Calandro Law in Riverview are experts when it comes to getting fair settlements in personal injury claims after an accident. Contact us to get a free consultation to learn more about the specifics of your case.
In spite of what the insurance industry and some lawyers like to tell you, settling a personal injury claim with an insurance company can actually be quite simple. Most claims involve only a few letters and phone calls with an insurance adjuster whose knowledge of the law is limited, so there’s no need to master complex legal jargon. However, your right to receive compensation generally is governed by common sense about who was careful and who wasn’t, how severe the injuries were, and whether or not you are willing to negotiate until you get a fair offer from the insurance company. Before you decide to take your case on by yourself here are a few important things to know.
Common Mistakes People Make Without a Lawyer
It can be difficult to pursue a personal injury claim after being hurt in a car accident, and there are many problems that can occur along the way. It is possible that people who choose to forego an attorney will make a myriad of mistakes during the process. Some which may badly damage their ability to receive payment for their injuries, medical bills, and lost wages. Here are some common mistakes you should avoid:
Not calling the police after the accident or obtaining information from the other driver
Tracking down parties involved after the fact can be a very time-consuming and costly process, negatively impacting your case in the event that you pursue a personal injury claim. In some cases, an attorney won’t take your case since the culprit isn’t identified or the police didn’t file a report.
Sharing too much information with the insurance company after the accident
It’s important to understand your legal rights before speaking with an insurance company representative, so you don’t accidentally say something that can be used against you later on down the road.
Receiving medical treatment after waiting several weeks or months
In the event of a an accident, it is important to receive the necessary medical care as soon as possible. People who delay getting medical treatment are often frustrated with the insurance company later on when they find they are uncooperative or deny their claim.
Hiding a past injury from an insurance company
Almost every car accident that is ever reported is documented, so it is a big mistake to think that you can hide an incident from an insurance company. If you lie to the insurance company you are likely to severely hurt or damage your case.
Mentioning harmful information about the case to the medical provider
It is often surprising for people to learn that doctors, nurses, and other medical providers record everything you discuss with them during your visit. If you make damaging statements to a medical professional, they won’t hesitate to record them in your medical record. Your statements may be used as evidence in your case, which means you may be confronted with them down the road.
The Severity of Your Injuries Will Impact Your Claim
If your injuries are small and not life-altering, it is possible that the insurance company won’t fight your case as much. But as the damages grow, the adjuster will try to reduce the amount. Your personal injury case starts at the scene and depending on how severe your accident is you may or may not be taken to the hospital immediately. There can be no personal injury case without any treatment or medical documentation. That is why it is essential to go to the doctor even if you don’t feel the need for immediate aid—both for your own health and support of your claim.
You will not get very far with your insurance claim unless you provide medical records and bills to verify your injuries and the extent of your injuries. Tell every medical provider you see exactly what type of injuries you sustained and when you sustained them. In order to claim out-of-pocket expenses such as medication, crutches, or transportation, you will need to request copies of your medical bills and receipts. The value of your claim is calculated by taking into account medical bills and expenses. The insurance companies, however, are required to cover only reasonable medical expenses. Avoid “accident doctors” who add up large bills for multiple tests or a lot of questionable treatments. You may be liable if the insurer won’t pay for the bills.
Liability and Damages Must Be Clear
Liability must be clear; who was at fault for the accident? In the context of a car accident, that could mean the other driver rear ended you or you have multiple witnesses saying they ran a red light. Without a lawyer, the insurance company may not take you serious if fault is not clear, and if the insurer disputes liability, expect low settlement offers.
This also applies to damages and other losses, including pain and suffering. You need to be precise about your damages when you attempt to settle a personal injury claim on your own, or the insurer will likely undercut your compensation. There must not be any doubt between your doctors about your diagnosis and the extent of your disabilities, and there must not be any strange or odd events in your medical history or medical records. Insurers will lower your settlement amount if they think your case is unusual.
Dealing With Insurance Companies
Although it is possible to handle an injury claim or a claim yourself, you should not try this on your own. Your injury claim will be handled by insurance adjusters whose job it is to pay you nothing or as little as possible. As a claimant or defendant you need to be aware of many issues that arise during the course of a claim or lawsuit. Below are examples of problems you might encounter if you try handling a claim on your own:
- Insurers try to force you to settle early. The insurance company wants you to settle early. If you do, you may lose your right to a settlement if your injuries become worse
- Insurers give you the “best possible deal” or “top offer”. A top offer from an insurance company is often not enough to make you happy. You can’t simply “wait out” the company to force them into paying you, since your case doesn’t get any better the longer you wait.
- The adjuster may claim that you are at-fault for an incident. It is difficult for you to respond properly to such accusations if you are unfamiliar with the law and the standards of proof required to prove fault.
- Insurers know you cannot litigate the case on your own. Insurance companies and their attorneys know that even though you can represent yourself in a civil lawsuit or litigation, you cannot adequately do it yourself. A person who has not been practicing law normally does not know the procedures for representing themselves in a serious case.
Negotiating Your Own Settlement in Florida
The insurance company will rarely write you a check for the amount requested in what is called a “Demand Letter”. The negotiation process starts after the claims adjuster reviews your letter and your evidence. Minor injury claims follow the same negotiation steps as other injury claims, including the respondent’s counteroffer, followed by bartering back and forth until a settlement is reached.
An insurance adjuster making unreasonable demands for extra information or a firm refusal to relent on a low-ball settlement offer, you may need assistance. If the insurance company denies your claim altogether, you obviously need an attorney. Many injury claims are wrongfully denied by an insurance company.
When You Should Hire A Personal Injury Attorney
To get anywhere close to the amount of compensation that you deserve for your injuries, pain, and suffering, you will need the help of a personal injury attorney who has handled serious injury cases. Regardless of the insurance company involved, they all share one aspect in common. Insurance companies will do whatever it takes to avoid paying claims regardless of how severely you are hurt. Some questions to ask yourself when deciding to hire a personal injury attorney:
- Is the litigation too complicated?
- Are there complications to my injury claim?
- What’s at risk if I’m denied a fair settlement?
Let the attorneys at Calandro law take the burden of an auto accident lawsuit off your hands. Schedule a free consultation today by calling us at (813) 563-8962 or filling out the form on the right side of the page.