After being injured at no fault of your own, you might be inclined to pursue compensation by yourself, without the help of an attorney. On paper, this might look like the best option. Perhaps you want to save money by negotiating the claim yourself; or maybe you think an attorney will just complicate matters.
It is totally understandable that you’d want to keep things simple. After all, you’re already dealing with an injury, which is stressful in and of itself. But before making your decision, you should consider the various benefits of having an attorney on your side. The following will outline some of those benefits.
First and foremost, when dealing with an insurance adjuster, it’s super helpful to have a knowledgeable negotiator on your team – someone who understands the law and who has experience dealing with insurance companies. Without a skilled attorney, it is very easy to get low-balled by an adjuster because they’re almost always looking out for their own self-interest – that is, they’re trying to save money, not help you obtain maximum compensation.
Conversely, attorneys are, by definition, advocates – that is, they’re looking out for your wellbeing, and thus they want nothing more than to achieve a high settlement amount. Moreover, they are equipped to do this. An experienced personal injury attorney knows the tactics used by insurance adjusters. A good lawyer can help you avoid these tactical pitfalls and potentially persuade the adjuster to settle at a higher amount.
What’s more, insurance companies tend to take attorneys more seriously when it comes to the threat of going to court. Without the authority of an attorney, you lack serious leverage at the negotiating table. In the end, having legal representation can help you obtain more compensation.
It is also important to remember that an experienced, reputable attorney is not looking to complicate your life. Instead, during consultation, they can help you decide the best path, which in some cases, might entail moving forward without an attorney. For instance, a lawyer might inform you, in consultation, that you live in a no-fault state and that your settlement is more or less predetermined by the law. Even in this situation, you may benefit from working with a lawyer who may be able to uncover other sources of payment.
In short, it’s a good idea to at least consult with a skilled lawyer who has a comprehensive understanding of the legal system in your state and locality. They can help you determine the most effective strategy for moving forward, thereby reducing your stress level.
You’re In Charge
It’s important to note that, though attorneys can help lead negotiations, they must always defer to you and your needs. They can’t, for instance, accept a settlement without first asking for your consent. They are there to advise you. They are not there to boss you around.
In fact, there are legal principles in place to help protect against this type of infraction. According to ABA Model Rule 1.2(a), “a lawyer shall abide by a client’s decisions concerning the objectives of representation,” and “shall consult with the client as to the means by which they are to be pursued.” Finally, “A lawyer shall abide by a client’s decision whether to settle a matter.”
To that end, an attorney can help you make hard choices. For instance, they can use their experience to counsel you on whether you should take your claims before a judge. In some cases, the court-related costs might outweigh the compensatory benefits. A seasoned lawyer can help you make that very difficult decision. But in the end, it’s your choice as to whether you want to accept a settlement or go to court.
It’s also more likely that you will obtain a higher level of compensation with an attorney than you would without one. A study conducted by the Insurance Research Council (IRC) found that claimants with attorneys were far more likely to receive compensation. Moreover, victims with legal representation received higher settlements. Researchers found that 85 percent of the settlements in the study involved claimants with attorneys. And those settlements were three times greater, on average, than those reached without representation.
In short, it might be in your best interest to consult with a reputable attorney who has experience in personal injury claims. Your attorney can help you chart a path forward and thereby make your life a little less stressful.