Dan Baylard |
You’ve just been injured. It could have been small, like twisting your ankle from slipping on wet floor at a grocery store. Or it could have been something more painful, like being bit by your neighbor’s dog or even surviving a devastating car crash on your way to work.
Accidents happen all the time. If you’re the victim of an accident, big or small, it’s important for you to know that you don’t have to navigate this difficult time alone.
If you’ve landed on this page, chances are you’re trying to determine whether or not you need a lawyer, especially after hearing all sorts of myths about personal injury lawyers. While every case is different, there are many points to consider while you decide to either hire a lawyer or represent yourself.
“Is my injury big or small?”
This may be the first question that comes to mind when you consider hiring a personal injury lawyer. Figuring out the answer can be difficult. After all, how do you measure the size of an injury? Some of the smallest nerves in your body can have the biggest effect on your pain.
Another way to phrase this question is: “Is my injury soft tissue or a hard injury?” Soft tissue injuries can come about from tripping and falling, minor car collisions, and minor injuries at work. Meanwhile, hard injuries tend to involve some combination of the following: permanent scars, damaged organs, and broken bones. They can be the result of trauma to the spinal cord, burns, poisoning, medical malpractice, and much more.
“Can I represent myself with a soft tissue injury?”
In many cases, yes you can. If it’s very clear what happened in your accident, you may only need to work with an insurance company to negotiate a settlement amount.
You may want to represent yourself if: You understand how to calculate your settlement amount and feel comfortable analyzing what happened, communicating with an insurance company about the accident, and negotiating your settlement amount.
“When should I hire a lawyer?”
There are many cases where you can choose to represent yourself or choose to hire a lawyer. In other cases, you will need to hire a lawyer. The severity of the injury is one determining factor when making your decision, but it’s not the only one.
Choose between self representation and hiring a lawyer when…
- It’s clear who was at fault in the accident. The only step remaining is to come to a settlement agreement.
- You want to work on the claim and you have the time and energy to do so.
- You feel comfortable negotiating with insurance companies, obtaining your medical records, acquiring police reports, and speaking with witnesses of the accident.
If one or more of these factors applies to you, you may feel more comfortable representing yourself and handling your case on your own. Of course, you still have the option to hire a personal injury lawyer.
In other cases, you will need to hire an attorney.
Hire a lawyer when…
- The insurance companies involved are acting in bad faith.
- Large upfront costs, litigation, or technical expertise are required to settle your case, including when you opt in to a class action lawsuit.
- Your injuries are permanent and/or very serious.
- You and the insurance company cannot come to a settlement agreement.
- Your claim is against your town, city, the state government, or the federal government.
In cases such as these listed above, the chances of settling the case alone are slim.
“So, should I hire a lawyer?”
This question is one of the most widely asked, especially when you’re the victim of an accident that led to a personal injury. While the specifics of your case can help determine the answer to this question, the parameters outlined in this article can help you get started choosing the right path for you.
Of course, it’s never a bad idea to consult with a personal injury lawyer if you’re unsure whether or not you can represent yourself. Many attorneys provide free consultations, giving you the chance to tell your story and get some advice on the best steps to take.
Because most lawyers do offer free consultations, you don’t have to settle for the first opinion you hear. Especially if you’re considering hiring one of these attorneys, ask all the questions on your mind and be open to consulting with other lawyers. If you do decide to hire a lawyer to represent your case, you’ll want to work with someone you feel comfortable with. This consultation process will help you get a feel for you’d like to work with.
No matter which route you choose, remember that you don’t have to deal with your personal injury alone. If your injury is soft tissue but your doctor’s appointments and daily obligations take your time away from handling the case, a lawyer can still help. Before you wonder how you’re going to navigate this issue alone, remember that the help you need is often just a phone call away.