After an accident, you may question whether you need a lawyer. In this post, San Diego personal injury attorney Curtis shares his insights on the reasons why you should consider seeking legal representation. For the past 15 years, Mr. Quay has successfully handled thousands of personal injury cases. He understands the common pitfalls that unrepresented parties are likely to face and how an attorney can help you avoid them. Find out more below.
For many victims, the days, weeks, and months following a serious accident are extremely tumultuous periods. The constant and chronic pain from their injuries makes it difficult, or even impossible, to go to work, take care of household responsibilities, and generally live life. Meanwhile, unpaid medical and other bills start to mount up, because there is no money coming in to pay them.
All this time, insurance adjusters or lawyers call at least weekly to induce victims into signing settlement papers. Deep down, victims know that insurance companies want what is best for their policyholders and stockholders as opposed to what is best for injury victims, but they really have no idea whether or not the settlement offer is fair. Nevertheless, with everything going on, it is tempting to sign the paper and just try to move on. You may even be told that it’s not worth it to hire an attorney, as they could take up to half of your recovery. This might leave you wondering, “Why should I hire a personal injury lawyer?”
Fortunately, an experienced attorney can address all these issues and more. That’s because in addition to a zealous advocate and a strong voice, an attorney gives solid legal advice that victims and their families can rely on as they seek to rebuild their lives.
1. Medical Issues
Almost any practitioner can deal with some car crash injuries, like broken bones and serious lacerations. However, many other injuries are unique to car crashes. Whiplash is a good example. This degenerative muscle condition usually starts when a patient is thrown forward and the neck violently snaps back, and that action is almost exactly what happens to most car crash victims. Even if they are properly restrained, the laws of physics still propel their bodies forward, and then they pop back into sitting positions; all this usually happens in under a second.
Because it is a soft tissue injury, whiplash often does not show up on X-rays or other diagnostic tests. Furthermore, the victims may not experience much pain, at least initially. But even if the non-expert doctors cannot find anything wrong and the victims feel fine, whiplash has probably already set in.
Contrary to popular myth, whiplash and other soft tissue injuries are not made-up conditions that greedy lawyers use to artificially inflate the settlement value of personal injury cases. They are real conditions with real consequences that, without proper treatment, may eventually become disabling.
Experienced accident attorneys can connect victims with physicians that specialize in treating personal injuries, so they can get the treatment and therapy they need. In most cases, and this point is discussed below, the victims have no out-of-pocket charges.
During settlement negotiations, insurance companies routinely challenge these expenses as not medically necessary, largely because whiplash has a bad reputation in some quarters and the injury is not easy to diagnose. An attorney is a powerful advocate in these cases.
2. Financial Issues
Letters of protection are powerful tools in personal injury cases, and only attorneys can utilize them.
Many times, medical bills are the largest single item in personal injury cases. Emergency care hospitalization often costs thousands of dollars per day; follow-up medical care and physical therapy adds thousands more. Additionally, there are medical devices, prescription drugs, and countless other items.
To make matters worse, many health insurance policies do not cover motor vehicle crash (MVC) injuries and expenses, mainly for liability purposes. As mentioned earlier, since there is little or no money coming in, victims are often unable to even make partial payments.
Letters of protection inform third-party medical providers that lawsuits may be filed and that they will be paid from the proceeds of a future settlement or judgment. When funds become available, attorneys can negotiate with these providers to pay less than face value for these bills, which means that more of the settlement funds find their way into victims’ pockets.
3. HIGHER SETTLEMENTS
97 percent of civil matters — including personal injury cases — settle out-of-court; many of these cases settle before a lawsuit is even filed. But before anyone signs anything, an attorney must determine the case’s settlement value, and an experienced lawyer is in the best position to calculate this number.
Calculating a settlement value is partly science and partly art. The costs, like property damage, medical bills, and lost wages, are relatively easy to determine. The subjective part come in determining what amount of money a jury in that jurisdiction would award an injury victim in that condition. The lawyer’s ability counts here as well, because an aggressive and effective attorney can present a case in a much more compelling fashion than any other lawyer.
Why Hiring A Personal Injury Attorney Should Be A Top Priority
In personal injury cases, as in many other endeavors, a fast start is essential. The sooner that attorneys start collecting evidence and refer their clients to medical specialists, the higher the ultimate recovery often turns out to be.
Victims can help themselves by reaching out to lawyers as soon as possible after the crash. At that point, an attorney can start building a case, deal with the insurance company, and get victims the attention they need, so they have the confidence and peace of mind they need to focus on their recoveries.