Can I Settle My Own Personal Injury Case?

People with grounds for a personal injury claim may wonder, “Can I settle my own personal injury case?” No law requires you to retain a lawyer to settle your personal injury claim. So, it is possible to settle your claim quickly and recover compensation to cover the full scope of your injuries or losses if you represent yourself.

Injured woman hands removing bandage from arm. Can I settle My Own Personal Injury Case

You must, however, be ready to learn how the claims process works, take the time to calculate the value of your claim, and negotiate aggressively with the responsible insurance company. You must also be in a position to acknowledge when the situation gets out of hand, and you need the legal support of a seasoned personal injury lawyer.

Call Ankin Law at 312-600-0000 to schedule a free review of your case with our personal injury lawyers.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Settling Your Own Personal Injury Case?

Settling your own personal injury case comes with its advantages, but also carries disadvantages.

The Pros

You Understand Your Claim Better than Anyone Else

You know the details of your accident better than insurance adjusters and lawyers because you were directly involved and physically present at the accident scene. You also understand the type of injuries you sustained, the treatment you have received so far, and the impact of the injuries on your daily life.

You Can Save Money on Lawyer’s Fees

Your lawyer will deduct 33% to 40% of your compensation as a legal fee, especially if you entered a contingency fee agreement. The lawyer will also deduct other case-related expenses like deposition fees, administrative costs, and investigation and evidence-collection expenses.

If you can convince the insurance company to offer you a settlement that reflects the actual value of your claim, then you can represent yourself and save money on lawyer’s fees.

You Will Have Personal Control Over Your Case

Settling your personal injury case gives you direct control over the case. You can decide on legal strategy, evidence collection and presentation methods, and negotiation strategies without the influence of legal counsel.


You Will Probably Receive Less than the Actual Value of Your Claim

Insurance companies employ numerous strategies to avoid paying claims or pay as little as possible. They may dispute liability, offer lowball settlements, and contest the severity of your injuries. They may also deliberately delay the claims process and pressure you into accepting a lowball settlement.

If you fall for these tricks, you will accept a settlement that is just a fraction of what is entitled to you. Such a payout may exhaust before you attain full recovery. The outcome is that you will have to pay for any additional medical bills and other costs out of pocket.

If you hire a personal injury lawyer, you are more likely to secure a payout that covers the full extent of your damages or losses. Your lawyer will determine all your recoverable damages and negotiate medical bills after settlement to ensure you take home fair compensation.

Lack of Objectivity Because of Emotional Investment in the Case

Getting injured in an accident or incident caused by another person’s negligence can make you angry, disappointed, and stressed. These emotions can prevent you from thinking objectively about your legal situation.

After going through emotional suffering, you may want to settle your case quickly. The outcome will be a settlement that cannot pay all your damages or losses. The desire to get revenge against the party liable for your injuries may cloud your judgment and compromise your case.

A Settlement Marks the End of Your Case

You will lose the right to any additional compensation for your injury and losses immediately after accepting a settlement from an insurance company. You will be ineligible to pursue further compensation, even if your injuries worsen, or you get diagnosed with new injuries.

Procedural Errors and Missing Filing Deadlines

You may make procedural blunders if you opt to handle your own personal injury case. These blunders include filling out crucial documents incorrectly or missing filing deadlines. You have two years from when you got injured to sue the negligent party. You will waive your right to recover damages if this deadline passes before you take legal action.

Lack of Negotiation Skills

As a self-representing claimant, you may lack the negotiation skills to protect your interest. You may also lack the experience required to determine how much your case is worth. As such, it is easier for an insurance company or its adjuster to persuade you to accept a lowball settlement despite having a strong claim.

What Are the Most Common Challenges in Settling Your Own Personal Injury Case?

Victims may face common challenges when self-representing a personal injury case.

Undervaluing Your Case

One of the most common challenges in settling your own personal injury case is underestimating how much your case is worth. Undervaluing your case is a costly blunder, as you will only accept a settlement once. If you fail to account for some recoverable damages when valuing your case, you will receive a payout that does not cover the full extent of your losses.

Lack of Legal Knowledge

Personal injury law constitutes a variety of statutes, regulations, case studies, and precedents. Without legal knowledge, it may be difficult to identify laws that apply to your situation. It may also be hard to identify factors that might bolster or weaken your case.

Identifying all available legal options and choosing the best course of action can be challenging for someone without legal training. You may also struggle to adhere to legal procedures and deal with setbacks you may encounter along the way.

Limited Resources

Personal injury cases usually require the input of different professionals, including healthcare practitioners, financial professionals, and accident reconstruction experts. These professionals offer testimony that helps strengthen your claim. If you handle your case yourself, you may lack the connections to locate and hire the right expert witnesses. You may also lack the financial resources to cover the cost of their services.

When Do You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

You are likelier to secure compensation for your injuries when you have legal representation than when working alone. A 2017 Personal Injury Study found that 91% of plaintiffs who had legal counsel obtained a settlement or court award, compared to 51% of those working without legal counsel.

The study also found that legal representation significantly increased the compensation amount. Plaintiffs working with legal counsel received a payout of $77,600, while those without legal representation received an average of $17,600.

But, when do you need a personal injury lawyer? The legal guidance and representation of a seasoned personal injury lawyer are necessary in the following situations:

You Have Suffered Catastrophic Injuries

Cases involving catastrophic injuries are often high-stakes and should be handled by an experienced personal injury lawyer. Careful documentation of all damages is necessary to ensure you obtain sufficient compensation for all your medical bills, lost earnings, and other expenses related to the accident or incident.

You may need expert witness testimony to establish a direct link between your catastrophic injuries and the accident or incident in question. An accomplished lawyer has cultivated valuable connections with professionals across different sectors and can leverage those connections to find and hire the right expert witness for your case.

Liability Is Not Straightforward

The burden of establishing liability in a personal injury claim lies on you (the plaintiff). Sometimes, liability is evident. Other times, liability is not straightforward. Personal injury cases may have multiple liable parties.

A lawyer can carefully examine your case, conduct additional investigations, and prove liability against all parties that may have been negligent. The lawyer can predict how long your personal injury lawsuit will take and update you regularly on its progress.

The Insurance Company Is Engaging in Bad Faith Insurance Practices

Insurance companies have a legal duty to act in good faith when resolving personal injury cases. Some companies, however, act in bad faith to avoid paying a claim or pay as little as possible. They may, for instance, perform insufficient investigation, ask for unnecessary documents, offer misleading information, and create unnecessary delays.

A personal injury lawyer knows what to do when an insurance company engages in bad-faith insurance practices. The lawyer will, for instance, conduct additional investigation, determine if you have grounds for a bad faith insurance claim and, if so, file the claim.

The Insurance Company Alleges That You Were Partially Liable for the Accident

The at-fault party’s insurer might take responsibility for the accident, but could allege that you were partly to blame for the accident.

In Illinois, you will not receive any compensation if your contributory negligence is more than 50%. You will receive compensation if your contributory fault is 50% or below. However, an amount equivalent to your percentage of fault will be deducted from your total compensation.

Insurance companies usually make contributory fault allegations to devalue or avoid paying claims. A lawyer will back your claim with compelling evidence and aggressively counter contributory negligence claims.

Personal injury lawyers at Ankin Law can better your chances of receiving adequate compensation for your injuries and damages. Contact us today for legal guidance and representation.

Chicago personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney Howard Ankin has a passion for justice and a relentless commitment to defending injured victims throughout the Chicagoland area. With decades of experience achieving justice on behalf of the people of Chicago, Howard has earned a reputation as a proven leader in and out of the courtroom. Respected by peers and clients alike, Howard’s multifaceted approach to the law and empathetic nature have secured him a spot as an influential figure in the Illinois legal system.

Years of Experience: More than 30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, U.S. District Court, Central District of Illinois
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