After an accident, it might seem like a given to hire an attorney to manage a personal injury settlement claim. Further, you’ve probably heard horror stories of insurance companies mistreating people and shortchanging them after an accident.
This definitely happens, but it’s not as common as the billboards and commercials want you to believe. Hiring a personal injury lawyer is necessary for a plethora of situations. In others, it’s overkill.
We normally discuss reasons to hire legal counsel after an accident. Today, we’re going to talk about when NOT to hire one. Let’s get into it.
Common Scenarios When Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney is NOT Necessary
Let’s discuss some situations where hiring a personal injury lawyer may not be worth it.
There were no substantial injuries
This is the most obvious reason to avoid the legal system. Some accidents only involve property damage – or less. For example, the extent of a minor car accident (like a fender bender) may only be a couple of dents. In this case, the at-fault party’s insurance company would cover the repairs – and getting an attorney involved would not be worthwhile.
Generally speaking, if no one requires medical treatment after the accident or needs to miss more than a couple of days of work, a personal injury settlement claim wouldn’t be necessary.
Insurance companies are offering you a fair amount
It’s important to understand that insurance companies usually offer fair compensation. But this all depends on your definition of “fair”.
In some cases, the insurance company may try to downplay the severity of your injury and offer you a lowball settlement. If the personal injury settlement amount does not cover your medical bills and other damages, you will likely need to hire an attorney to negotiate with the insurance provider.
Keep in mind, the negotiation process can take months or years. To give you an idea, the average car accident settlement takes between 10-11 months – but every case is different.
Moreover, you will need to pay a personal injury attorney anywhere from 25-40 percent of the total settlement. This is referred to as the contingency fee agreement. As a rule of thumb: if the contingency fee is one-third of your settlement, the results will need to be improved by at least 50 percent to justify hiring them.
If you believe the settlement from the insurance company adequately covers your recovery, hiring a personal injury attorney may not be necessary.
Hiring a personal injury lawyer doesn’t make sense mathematically
Every personal injury settlement claim is different. Your claim may be small enough that hiring a personal injury lawyer is simply not feasible.
For example, lets’ say you were driving an old, beat-up vehicle with high mileage. Another driver runs into your vehicle at a low speed and totals it. You sustain a small scrape in the process. The insurance company only gives you a few hundred dollars for the vehicle – and the extent of your medical treatment is some gauze and a Band-Aid.
In this scenario, there isn’t much for a personal injury attorney to work with if you chose to pursue a personal injury settlement claim. There are certainly attorneys out there that will take smaller cases, but most will command a higher percentage of the recovery.
Don’t Jump to Conclusions
It’s very important to avoid judgment calls immediately after an accident.
Be extremely careful about labeling yourself “not injured”.
Some injuries take time to show symptoms – like a traumatic brain injury, spine injury, internal injuries, etc. You may not feel any pain at the time of the accident. It’s crucial to get examined by a medical professional regardless. They will be able to spot the early signs of an injury and make sure you get the treatment you need.
From here, you will get a more detailed assessment from your doctor – and likely a specialist. They will determine the extent of your injury and recommend treatment or physical therapy. Given the costs associated with this treatment, filing a personal injury claim may be necessary.
Keep in mind, once you sign an agreement for a settlement, you likely won’t have another chance to pursue more money. Make sure you have all the facts, assessments, and professional recommendations in order before you make any big decisions.
What Warrants a Valid Personal Injury Settlement Claim?
Personal injury claims are generally warranted when the victim of an accident suffers an injury and is facing financial, physical, and/or mental damages. These include (but are not limited to):
- Medical/hospital bills
- Future medical treatment
- Property damage
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Reduced quality of life
A personal injury settlement claim seeks to earn compensation for these damages from the at-fault party.
Keep in mind: even though insurance companies usually offer fair compensation, they are obligated to minimize payouts and protect their bottom line. This is why many victims end up needing to hire a personal injury lawyer to fight for a fair settlement that adequately covers all damages incurred.
Generally speaking, if these types of situations arise – which were caused by another party’s negligence, you may need to hire an attorney:
- You had to stay in the hospital due to injuries
- You suffered broken bones
- Your long-term health is affected
- Medical costs are more than a few thousand dollars
- You are facing an extended absence from work
- There is a dispute of liability in the accident
- Several people were injured in the accident
- There are inaccuracies/inconsistencies in police reports, medical assessments, and insurance communications
- Insurance is not willing to cover damages
These are just a handful of reasons to hire a personal injury lawyer. Get in touch with a firm if you believe you have a valid personal injury settlement claim.
Have More Questions?
It’s important to note that most attorneys offer free consultations to determine if your personal injury settlement claim is worth pursuing. They won’t likely take your case if they believe it is too small or there isn’t a good chance of winning.
You are probably facing this situation for the first time. Many attorneys understand this and are happy to point you in the right direction. In other words, it never hurts to ask a personal injury lawyer for their professional opinion on your situation.
At Midwest Injury Lawyers, we provide legal counsel to victims of injuries in Illinois and Indiana. Our knowledgeable team is available to answer your questions and provide recommendations for the next steps. For any questions, concerns, or inquiries about your situation and personal injury law, give us a call at 312-786-5881, or request a consultation online.