As a general rule, a person should reach out to a personal injury lawyer after suffering an injury in an accident or through negligence or misconduct. A lawyer helps the injured party pursue fair and reasonable compensation for the injuries and damages. A lawyer also safeguards the injured party’s best interest against large insurance companies and organizations that may attempt to offer low settlements or deny otherwise valid claims.
Five Situations That Call for Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
Liability for the Accident is in Contention
Proving liability is one of the most important steps in a personal injury lawsuit. An accident victim must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the negligence, errors, or misconduct of the other party caused his or her injuries. For instance, a slip and fall victim can recover compensation only after proving that the property owner’s negligence caused the injuries.
A personal injury lawyer investigates the case to figure out how the injury occurred and who is at fault. The lawyer compiles evidence and creates a strong strategy for pointing out the other party as legally responsible.
The Victim Suffered a Severe Injury or Permanent Disability
Personal injury cases involving severe injuries or permanent disabilities have unique issues that do not arise in other cases. A victim who suffers a disability due to a car accident, defective product, medical malpractice, or other top causes of personal injury accidents might require ongoing medical treatment and care. The disabling condition might render the victim unable to work both in the present and future. The victim will suffer future damages or losses due to the impairment or disability.
Severe injury cases often produce high-dollar settlements. Insurance companies and adjusters tirelessly look for ways to reduce the value of these claims to keep making profits. An injury lawyer who knows how to document damages properly and build a strong injury claim can increase the odds of a victim recovering reasonable compensation.
The Insurance Company is Engaging in Bad Faith Practices
A competent injury lawyer understands personal injury laws and numerous insurance bad faith practices. The lawyer will be ready to file a personal injury lawsuit if the insurance company seems uninterested in negotiating a reasonable settlement for the victim’s injury claim. A simple lawsuit threat is sometimes enough to motivate the insurance company and other involved parties to offer a fair settlement.
The Liable Party is a Government Entity
Personal injury cases involving government entities are more challenging to settle than average injury claims. Government entities and certain government officials enjoy some form of immunity that shields them from liability in most claims or lawsuits. Exceptions are available, however.
An injury victim of a subway accident or train accident should involve a lawyer right away. Claims against government entities have shorter time limits compared to other claims. A lawyer will file the claim correctly and on time.
Multiple Liable Parties Are Involved
Cases that involve multiple at-fault parties require the legal support and representation of an aggressive injury lawyer. These cases include multiple vehicle collisions, construction accidents, product liability claims, and medical malpractice claims.
A lawyer will know how to handle additional issues that often arise in cases with multiple liable parties. As the potentially at-fault parties blame each other for the accident, the lawyer will be building a case that safeguards the victim’s best interests.
Reasons to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
The Victim Can Focus on Recovery
An injury takes a toll on both the physical and mental health of the victim. Handling a legal case while dealing with the effects of a traumatic incident can be an overwhelming task to the victim. Leaving the task to someone with the knowledge and skillsets to handle the issue efficiently is a wise decision. Besides constantly updating the victim on the case’s progress, a lawyer will do most work. That way, the victim can prioritize recovery.
Getting A Realistic Picture of the Case
An injury victim may be wondering, “how long does a personal injury lawsuit take?” A lawyer used to settle personal injury claims will have the skills to analyze similar cases and reasonably estimate how long the victim’s case may take.
The lawyer will evaluate the merits of the injury case and provide the victim with a realistic idea of his or her likelihood of obtaining a reasonable settlement. The lawyer will also present evidence and arguments to increase the chances of getting a favorable result in the injury case.
Skillfully Negotiating with Insurance Companies
The liable party’s insurance company can aggressively negotiate for a lower settlement. Insurance companies usually have tactics to convince the injury victim to accept their initial settlement offer.
An injury lawyer understands these tactics and will build a strong claim to put the victim in a better-negotiating position. The outcome will be higher compensation for the victim.
Adding Objectivity to the Injury Case
Personal injuries result in physical pain and emotional trauma. This trauma may keep the victim from making objective decisions about the injury case. A lawyer brings much-needed objectivity in the case, helping the victim receive reasonable compensation.
Leveling the Playing Field
The other party’s insurance company will have plenty of resources and a team of legal representatives. Engaging the company without a lawyer will stack the deck against the injury victim. Involving a lawyer from the onset will help even the playing field.
Cons of Managing Your Own Case
If an injury victim has never handled a claim before and lacks an in-depth understanding of state-specific personal injury laws, he or she is likely to make mistakes. These mistakes can hurt the chances of the victim receiving compensation.
The victim may, for instance, give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster. The adjuster will review this statement to find any information to justify the claim denial or question the victim at trial.
The victim may ask for too little or too much settlement. Asking for too little will prevent the victim from recovering the full extent of the damages. Asking for too much will indicate the victim does not know the value of the injury case and the types of personal injury damages to which they are entitled.
An unrepresented plaintiff may ignore the state-specific statute of limitations for bringing an injury claim against the liable party. In Illinois, victims have two years from the day the injury happened to file a claim. This time limit can be considerably shorter in certain situations. Failure to understand these unique situations can cause the victim to miss the chance to file.
An unrepresented injury victim may accept the first offer from insurance representatives of the at-fault party. This offer is usually low, and it cannot fully cover the losses or damages suffered by the victim.
Things to Consider When Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer
Key Areas of Practice
Most personal injury lawyers have focused on specific practice areas. Some lawyers dedicate most of their time to car accidents. Others have focused their practice on product liability claims or lawsuits. While any injury lawyer can try any case, the victim will have a higher chance of recovering damages by working with a lawyer whose focus lies in the victim’s area.
Winning Record Both in and out of the Court
The injury victim should consider how a potential lawyer has performed inside and outside the court. The victim should hire a lawyer with a proven track record at the negotiation table and trial.
Cost and Payment Terms
The victim should familiarize themself with the lawyer’s fee structure before entering into any agreements or providing retainer money. The victim should know all the possible legal fees in advance. The victim should also know all the potential expenses associated with the injury case.
Listening and Communication Abilities
An injury victim should consider a potential lawyer’s listening and communication skills. The lawyer should have the ability to carefully listen to what the client is saying and deliberate on what the client said before speaking. The lawyer should provide regular case updates and be available to respond to any question or concern the client may have.
How to Afford a Personal Injury Lawyer
Most personal injury lawyers offer their legal support and representation on a contingency basis. This arrangement saves the victim from the hassles of paying any legal fees upfront. The victim also does not pay any legal fees if the case is unsuccessful.
A contingency fee arrangement can be either flat or tiered. With a flat contingency fee arrangement, the plaintiff pays the same percentage regardless of the stage at which the injury case settles. With a tiered contingency fee, the percentage charged increases depending on the stage at which the case settles.
Most personal injury lawyers do not charge consultations. Free consultation offers an injury victim a chance to learn about the lawyer and the process of obtaining compensation. It is also an opportunity for the victim to ask and get answers to questions, such as “what does litigation mean in a personal injury case?”
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.