Do I Need an Injury Attorney or Can I Handle My Case Myself?
By Jim Ballidis
I hear this question often from prospective clients. Everyone tends to think “I can do it myself!” In the age of the DIY internet, I certainly have that opinion about a lot of projects I handle, unrelated to law. The idea is that if you handle the case, you can avoid any attorneys’ fees. Otherwise, why bother with the hassle?
For a small automobile accident case, a “fender bender” with a couple of visits to the doctor, I applaud you for attempting this yourself. In fact, if you called me, I would tell you how to conduct the case.
However, if you’ve been involved in a crash that has caused you injury, requiring more than a couple of doctor visits, or you have a preexisting condition that has been aggravated, I guarantee your insurance companies, health and auto, and the other party’s insurance company are going to give you a hard time. You need to be part of a team of experts who are experienced and prepared to get you the recovery you deserve.
Insurance companies want to save money, to pay as little as they can, and put you through a process they choose to implement. It can be more painful than a day at the DMV and they can string it out for months. Further, it’s not unusual for the insurer to grind on you about the property damage, wage loss, as well as collision coverage, liability, and your medical bills.
Let’s talk about a few of these negative possibilities:
There’s nothing more aggravating than going to your own doctor and having your Med Pay or other party’s insurance company tell you they’re not going to pay the bill. It happens in many cases, especially to people who have major injuries.
Doing an investigation on liability is always best. If you don’t do this, sometimes the witnesses have aligned against you because the insurance company was the first to talk to them. This biases the witnesses to the idea that you are out for money and you’re not deserving of any remuneration. It’s not a fun place to be.
Many clients don’t realize their sick and vacation time used to treat accident-related injuries is a compensable loss.
Did you know that you’re entitled to taxes and license fees and a portion of your DMV fees if your car is totaled? Insurance companies don’t often volunteer that fact to you. In some companies, the insurance adjuster is incentivized to obtain a cheaper settlement with you.
Unless you’ve gone to the law library and looked at settlements, verdicts, and trial results, how will you know the value of your case? If you aim too high, you guarantee a trial and if you aim too low, you leave money on the table.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gone to a mediation and the mediator is simply trying to close the case out without trying to be fair. Instead, I try to inspire the mediator to reach a reasonable number that provides fair compensation for the client, rather than just any settlement.
Finally, I will tell you that strength comes with early and thorough preparation.
How do I know my method works and you can get more money in your pocket? Studies show lawyers get three times the net settlement for their clients, when compared to people who did it themselves and without a lawyer. In our office, almost all of our business comes from client referrals. And clients wouldn’t refer others to us if they felt they received poor service, or received less money with our help rather than pursuing the case on their own.
Don’t try and handle it yourself if you have an accident that has any kind of complexity to it other than a few doctor visits. Call us at (949) 752-7474. We will join your team, and together, we can get you far more than you can get going at it alone.
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