In 2019, civil case fillings across the nation totaled more than 286,000. This was up three percent from the previous year, with personal injury cases specifically rising 36 percent.
With case filings rising, the need for personal injury lawyers increases, too. If you’re planning on filing a personal injury lawsuit, you may be wondering whether you need an attorney. Continue reading to learn what a personal injury lawyer handles and when you need to hire one.
What Does a Personal Injury Lawyer Handle?
A professional services law firm handles cases where you were physically or psychologically damaged due to another person’s negligence. They can also represent people who are being wrongfully sued for causing damage to another person.
One of the most common cases a personal injury lawyer handles is car accidents. But while that may be what they’re most known for, car accidents are far from the only thing handled by personal injury attorneys. They can also handle nursing home neglect, slip and fall accidents, and many other similar cases.
But how do you know when working with an attorney is necessary in these types of cases? There are many tell-tale signs you want to lawyer up, many of which are discussed below.
Discussions With Insurance Carriers
You were in a car accident or were injured on another person’s property. Now you’re getting phone calls from insurance carriers who want to speak with you regarding the incident. Now is an excellent time to find a reliable attorney.
Insurance carriers don’t have your best interests at heart. Truthfully, they want to pay out as little money as possible and will find any way they can to discredit your claim. It’s literally their job.
With that in mind, speaking with insurance carriers without legal representation is a terrible idea. Anything you say could be twisted around to help deny your claim or make a low-ball offer seem reasonable. A personal injury lawyer will know what to say and what not to say.
Even better? Hiring an attorney means you don’t need to be hassled by phone calls or emails from these insurance carriers. Instead, your lawyer can field these phone calls for you so you can focus on recovery or work or whatever else you have going on in your life.
Stalls in Insurance Claims
When you file an insurance claim for medical bills or property damages, the process should move steadily from one stage to the next. However, this isn’t always the way it works. Claims can become stalled for one reason or another.
One of the most common reasons insurance claims stalls is because of the insurance company itself. They try to block the claim, deny it, or keep it stalling until specific statutes of limitations run out. When this happens, the best thing you can do is hire an attorney.
A lawyer can help place pressure on the insurance company to keep the claim moving forward. They can stop stalls that happen on your end, as well. A lawyer will do this by ensuring the proper paperwork is completed as soon as it’s asked for.
If an insurance claim is denied, you need to hire a personal injury lawyer. As mentioned earlier, these companies will do anything they can to avoid paying out money. But there are very few valid reasons for a claim denial.
A lawyer can help work through the appeals process with you. They do this by first proving your claim is valid. Then, they can help determine an appropriate claim amount based on medical bills, property damage, and other legitimate factors.
Low Ball Insurance Claim Offers
When you file an insurance claim, you’re not asking for free money. That money is owed to you for reasons that may vary from one unique claim to the next. When an insurance company offers a claim amount way lower than it should, it’s time to find a lawyer.
The lawyer will help you raise the claim amount and prove why the higher amount is necessary. Without proof that a claim is too low, there are slim chances you’ll get approved.
What are insurance claim amounts based on? They’re meant to cover anything caused directly (and sometimes indirectly) by the event or accident that would otherwise cause you a significant financial burden.
Only a few of the most significant factors that need to be taken into account for insurance claims include:
- Current or past medical bills
- Medical bills that will result from these specific injuries in the future
- Cost to fix property damages
- Missed work due to injuries
There may be other factors that need to be taken into consideration for some instances. Only a lawyer can figure out an appropriate claim amount.
To Avoid Medical Malpractice Statute of Claims Limitations Issues
If your lawsuit is related to medical malpractice, time is of the essence. Each state has a specific statute of limitations in place that limits how long you have to file for a lawsuit. In some instances, your claim can be thrown out if you don’t get in front of a judge in the specified time frame.
Working with a lawyer can help speed along the process. This ensures the limitations don’t run out, and you aren’t left with a financial burden due to a medical practitioner’s mistakes or negligence.
To Find the Right Physicians
When you’re injured due to another person’s negligence, finding the right physicians is essential. Many people fail to realize you can’t use just any doctor when filing under a personal injury claim. Not only do you need to find a quality, reliable doctor, but also one who accepts and understands personal injury claims.
When appropriate, the doctor you go to can serve as a key witness in your case should you need to go to work. The doctor can testify about the extent of your injuries and that they resulted from the accident in question. This is especially important if these matters come into question by the insurance company or other party.
When an Injury Is Serious
If you suffer a severe injury due to another person’s fault, you must hire an attorney right away. Serious injuries generally lead to more expensive claims, which have a more significant risk of being low-balled by insurance companies. Sadly, these lawsuits are also the ones where the claim money is of the utmost importance.
Medical bills can quickly add up, and many health insurance companies don’t cover these types of accidents. When they do, there are often high co-pays that can quickly add up. It isn’t fair that you become financially burdened due to something that was out of your control.
When Someone Else’s Negligence caused an Injury
Any injury that was caused by someone else’s negligence is a reason to hire a lawyer. Only a personal injury attorney can help represent your case in a way that ensures a fair claim amount.
Personal injury attorneys are specialists who know all the ins and outs of these types of cases. They understand fair claim amounts, the rules and regulations governing these cases, and everything else you need for a successful case.
When a Claim Is for Neglect
Neglect claims are another type of personal injury lawsuit. These lawsuits are most often opened against nursing homes. Still, they might be opened against any caregiving facility or caretaker.
Neglect cases can be complicated because they require a lot of proof. Personal injury lawyers know how to obtain this proof and which forms of evidence are permissible by the court. They can ensure you or your loved one receives a just claim amount for the pain and suffering caused.
When Dealing With Uninsured or Underinsured Drivers
Any car accident is an awful experience, but it can be further complicated if the other party is uninsured or underinsured. While most people assume everyone on the road is driving fully insured vehicles, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
A 2019 study found that a little more than 12 percent of people on the road were uninsured. This works out to be about one in every eight drivers. With numbers like that, you likely pass dozens of uninsured motor vehicles every day.
When you get hit by one of these uninsured vehicles, the case is significantly different from what you’d typically expect. A personal injury attorney can help you receive the money owed to you by figuring out the potential avenues for your particular case.
Choosing the Right Personal Injury Attorney
Knowing when to hire a personal injury lawyer is only half the battle. It’s essential to hire one that’s reliable and worth the money invested.
Determining Their Reputation
Before speaking with an attorney or law firm, you can get an idea of their reputation. Check online ratings and reviews. Speak to anyone you know who has hired an attorney for this type of case.
Avoid anyone with a bad reputation. Suppose numerous reviews say the attorney or law firm doesn’t return phone calls, doesn’t invest an appropriate time in cases, etc.
In that case, you should avoid them at all costs. Instead, make a shortlist of all attorneys in your area with positive reputations. One example of a firm with a great reputation is Kemp, Ruge & Green Law Group.
At the Interview
During the phone or in-person interview, pay attention to how the attorney treats you. Make sure you ask if the person you interview with will be the one taking your case. Many people fail to realize they could end up with a different attorney from the same law firm.
Ask yourself if you feel the attorney is paying attention to you. Are they empathetic and caring? Do you think you could work with this person for weeks, months, or even a year or more?
If you feel something is “off” during the interview process, it may be a good idea to choose someone else. Everyone deserves a lawyer they think cares about the cause they’ll be representing. Everyone deserves to work with an attorney who they feel cares about them as a person.
Another critical thing to ensure during the interview is that the attorney you hope to hire has handled cases like yours. Be sure to ask how many personal injury lawsuits they’ve taken and how many they were able to win.
Inquire specifically about the type of personal injury case you want them to represent. For example, it doesn’t help to hear how many nursing home neglect cases the attorney or firm has won if you were in a car accident.
Before You Sign the Contract
Once you find the personal injury attorney you want to work with, there are a few things to ask before signing the contract. Ask them:
- How will payment be made?
- Do you accept a percentage of the claim amount or an upfront fee?
- Are there additional fees (like retainers) required?
- What happens if I don’t win my case?
- What will you need from me? (This might include documents, testimony, witnesses ‘ names, etc.)
- What changes if my case has to go to court?
It’s vital to ensure you understand everything before signing. If you don’t understand something, be sure to ask questions. A reasonable attorney will have no problems answering all of your questions.
More Questions About When You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?
There are many reasons you may need a personal injury lawyer. The reasons mentioned above are only the most significant and aren’t an all-inclusive list. It’s of the utmost importance to always hire a reliable attorney with a good reputation.
Do you have more questions about when you need a personal injury lawyer?
Check out our other blogs. You’ll find posts on personal injury law, attorneys, and related topics to help you dive deeper into the subject.